You don't have to be dead to be great, but it helps. The news that the judges of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition have failed to award a first prize can only confirm the pessimism of those pundits who complain how far today's performers fall below the standards set by the artists of old.

Now music-lovers can check out the truth of the Golden Age myth for themselves with the opening of a new video-viewing facility at the Music Performance Research Centre in the Barbican Music Library. Thanks to sponsorship in kind from Sony UK, callers can now view, free of charge, their pick from rare archive footage of historic live performances by the likes of Artur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Boris Christoff, Leopold Stokowski (without Mickey Mouse) and Igor Stravinsky.

Meanwhile, in another inventive bit of sponsorship, Reuters, the international press agency, is adding a visual dimension of its own to its financial support of the Endellion String Quartet (right). Concert-goers attending the ensemble's Quartet Plus series of quartets, quintets and sextets by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Brahms (starting this Wednesday at the Queen Elizabeth Hall) will be greeted by a foyer display of historic news photographs and newsreel and television footage from Reuters' archives. Film extracts range from early shots of the young Yehudi Menuhin, through Furtwangler in full swing conducting the Berlin Philharmonic of the 1940s, to Luciano Pavarotti's one and only appearance as Otello in Chicago under Sir Georg Solti.

Music Performance Research Centre, Music Library, The Barbican, Silk St, EC1

Quartet Plus starts with Haydn, Chopin, Brahms, 7.45pm Wed QEH, South Bank Centre, SE1 (071-928 8800)

(Photograph omitted)