Confessions of a (former) Beethoven Hater

I have a secret that I never told anyone, growing up as a classical musician- I hated Beethoven! My rather formal and strict piano teacher had very precise ideas about what constituted great music and Beethoven was her ne plus ultra. I therefore imagined that I had some dreadful flaw which no one must ever discover.
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Smoosh!

Yes, I know talented musicians are achieving success at a younger and younger age- but this is something I haven’t come across before!
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Postcard from L.A.

Torrential rain, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, drought, wildfires…it’s a myth that the sun shines all the time in Southern California. What is true is that some of the most… how shall I put it… unusual people in the world live here.
A few recent examples:
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Fabulous music of a non-classical nature

Rufus Wainwright’s Want One is the non-classical album I’ve played most over the last year, and I’m STILL not tired of it. The son of talented and famous folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, Rufus was drenched in all kinds of music from an early age. By his teens, he was closeted away listening to French opera, when he wasn’t on tour singing with his mother. At 24, he made his first album (Rufus Wainwright), which was followed a couple of years later by his second (Poses), both receiving acclaim. Want One, his third, surpasses them in terms of inspiration, sophistication and sheer consistent quality. At first, I was slightly put off by his pouting, rather pretty-boy publicity shots, but having seen him perform live recently, I can vouch for the fact that his intelligent and self-deprecating wit more than compensates!
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Milt the Magnificent

Today I have the honor to refer you to the site of someone who has recently become a hero of mine. Milton Mermikides is a 30-something professional musician, composer and teacher in London who was recently diagnosed with leukemia and has been in hospital ever since. He immediately put up a website from his hospital bed, brought in all his musical instruments and equipment, and began an outpouring of creativity which would be stunning from someone in perfect health, let alone someone who is have ing such intense health challenges. He has so far produced 29 videos and five pieces, including one based on abstract electronic music completely based on his blood results!
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Sounds of Alarm

Lots of alarm about “the future of classical music” on some of the blogs I read today. What occurs to me is that one of the reasons that people are so alarmed by this idea is that they don’t regard classical music as just music. It has to be kept separate and elevated, ideally in an airtight container marked “Fragile :This Way Up”.
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