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First seen as part of a 1912 double bill, Ariadne auf Naxos was revised and reshaped as Europe plunged into the carnage of the First World War. Strauss was profoundly relieved when his son, Franz, was declared unfit for military service. But his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, had already served as a reservist when the now familiar version of their backstage comedy on high and low art premiered in Vienna in 1916, four days after the assassination of the prime minister in the dining room of a hotel a few minutes' walk from the opera house.

Opera: All the world in a symphony

PROMS 47-48

Classical: It's a player's right to choose

The Berlin Philharmonic has voted for Simon Rattle as its conductor. But orchestras are odd constituencies, as Ian Pillow knows

Berlin Philharmonic takes risk on iconoclast Rattle

THE MOST prestigious orchestra in the world took a gamble with its own future yesterday,choosing as its chief conductor a youngish iconoclast from a distant land once mocked for being tone deaf.

Battle of the maestros for Berlin

OFFICIALLY IT has been a global job hunt with every living conductor in the world a potential candidate. In reality the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's quest to find a chief conductor has been narrowed down to just two men and the result should be announced later today.

Letter: Brassed off

RICHARD GOTT shares the popular misconception that the repertoire of the military band is confined to martial music (Essay, Culture, 6 June). Ceremonial occasions, while seeming to be the limit of his experience, are an infinitesimal part of the role of the military band. Most military bands spend more time in classrooms providing much needed musical tuition for young musicians. How many symphony orchestras provide a full day's free tuition with their musicians to grade-eight standard and beyond, or the experience of playing as part of a full wind band that carries a valuable certificate of work experience?

Rattle and Barenboim in a battle for Berlin

A prestigious musical job is up for grabs this week, with two of the world's top conductors in the running to lead the Berlin Philharmonic. Imre Karacs reports

Music loses as Labour plays military tune

YESTERDAY, bandsmen of the Household Division switched from martial airs to the relaxed lyrics of The Beatles' Michelle after the First Battalion Coldstream Guards marked the monarch's birthday by Trooping the Colour. The only worry on the musicians' minds was hitting the right note.

Obituary: James Blades

JAMES BLADES was one of the best loved and most naturally talented musicians to grace the British orchestral scene over the past 60 years. He brought the skills and art of great percussion playing to a wide public not only through his performing ability but through his extraordinary talent in communication with people from all walks of life. He was kindly and encouraging to the first efforts of the smallest child and he advised composers like Igor Stravinsky. He was a close friend of Benjamin Britten, who turned to him constantly for advice on percussion techniques and special sounds such as creating the unique instruments for the church operas - "you know what I mean Jimmy"; and he did!

Smart Moves: Listen to the music makers

Persuading 100 talented, opinionated musicians to play exactly the way a conductor wishes takes sophisticated leadership skills, as managers are discovering. By Philip Schofield

Yehudi Menuhin: 1916-1999

AT THE age of 12 he played the violin in a manner which made Einstein believe in god. At the age of 82 he was still conducting in concert halls across the world.

Obituary: Robert Shaw

THE NAMES of the century's most distinguished orchestral conductors - people like Klemperer, Furtwangler, Toscanini - tend to be known even to people who are not otherwise familiar with the world of classical music. The art of the choral conductor is a rather better-kept secret, and, though Robert Shaw may not have been a household name, he was none the less a great choral conductor. Indeed, along with the Swede Eric Ericson, two years his junior, he probably ranks as the greatest choral trainer of the century.

Classical: From the basses to the stars

FIDELIO/WALTER WELLER

Danger, daring, surprise, the works

Classical Music

Classical: Sadly second rate

CHARLES IVES BOURNEMOUTH SO POOLE
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