Arts and Entertainment

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.

Sam Rivers: Sax symbol blows on

Sam Rivers played with Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix. Keith Shadwick meets the energetic octogenarian

The young and the restless

A new generation of conductors is taking Europe by storm. Jessica Duchen outlines the trials and triumphs that lie ahead in the pressure cooker of the pit

Denise Leigh: If at first you don't succeed

Winning the talent show Operatunity has taken the blind singer Denise Leigh to unimagined heights in the music world. But only after a decade of struggle, she tells James Rampton

Last Night of the Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London

So it was farewell to the 2004 Prom season; farewell to Michael Davis, leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra; and farewell to their chief conductor, Leonard Slatkin, after four eventful but far from harmonious years in the saddle.

Prom 36: BBC Scottish SO/Volkov, Royal Albert Hall London

When the Israeli-born Ilan Volkov was appointed chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra last year, much was made of the fact that he was only 27.

Proms 19 and 20: Bavarian Radio SO / Jansons, Royal Albert Hall, London

Here was a pair of Proms to which all those who insist that Western classical music is dead ought to have been frogmarched.

Sir Simon Rattle: Time for Britain's greatest living conductor to face the music?

This September, Sir Simon Rattle will perform at the BBC Proms at the head of arguably the greatest symphony orchestra in the world. For the past two years, Rattle has been principal conductor and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and such is their combined lure that seats for the two concerts are already hard to come by, despite the presence on the programme of such difficult, challenging works as Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra, and the last significant offering of the French composer Olivier Messiaen, Eclairs sur l'Au-Dela.

America sings a new song of celebrity censorship

A furore over a Linda Ronstadt gig is the latest in a series of rows about politics that is casting a shadow over the world of US entertainment. By Andrew Gumbel

Preview Classical: l'enfance du Christ

Hector Berlioz, one of the most under-rated of the great composers, is loved by millions for his early Symphonie fantastique, yet the rest of his output is largely ignored. In truth, Berlioz's works often betray his origins as a "self-made" composer, but it is his refusal to act within formal constraints that make him such a genius. And if there is one conductor who has been responsible for altering our view of Berlioz from a "one- hit wonder" to a composer of rare originality, it is surely Sir Colin Davis, who has championed him for more than 30 years. Now, with the the London Symphony Orchestra, he has embarked on the year-long Berlioz Odyssey, an exploration of the composer's large-scale works. Last week we had the first opera, Benvenuto Cellini; this week we have the seasonal L'enfance du Christ, with a superb line-up of soloists, headed by Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside and Robert Lloyd. With more to come next year, this is a real cause for celebration.

Give over, Beethoven!

Musicians in top orchestras fear they'll go deaf as instruments get ever louder, reports Louise Jury

Preserving the unique sound of men behaving badly

`There has never been a truly great woman composer - and it will not do to blame the men'

Letter: Vienna chauvinists

Sir: The Promenade Concert on Monday evening, 6 September, was given by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. I was disgusted to see that the orchestra had no women members.

PROMS 99: THE NEXT SEVEN DAYS

TODAY

Before the week is out...Watch this

IF YOU'RE after a (bite-sized) slice of high culture on the cheap, Birmingham is the place to head to this week. The Royal Shakespeare Company, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Royal Ballet are among the 80 organisations performing free on the city's streets as part of Artsfest 99. Each performance lasts only 30 minutes so you can enjoy a little of everything, from jazz to a live link-up to the Proms. Just the ticket for the short-attention-span generation.

Music: Prom Of The Week

Glyndebourne's annual visit - semi-staged, without the sets of a full show - is never more than a token of what you'd get in Sussex. With Debussy's Pelleas and Melisande that's a real loss, because Paul Brown's spectacular (if de trop) designs are its USP - housing the action in a grand salon whose spiral staircase and Perspex floor (lit from below through carpets of flowers) make an amazing visual impact. Stripped bare for the Albert Hall it will probably look lost and vague. But then, lost and vague is the traditional way to do Pelleas. Whatever survives of Graham Vick's production, you'll get diverting performances from Richard Croft and Christiane Oelze in the title roles, plus a tumultuous Golaud from John Tomlinson, who gives the part such a Wagnerian dimension you can only wonder where he's left his spear. Andrew Davis (above) conducts the London Philharmonic. Get there early. Monday 7pm
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