Welcome To Beka

 The legendary recordings of Beka Classics were capturing the new sound  which was emerging  throughout  the last century. A new generation of brilliant artists redefined what was considered classical music.   The 20th-century orchestra was far more flexible than its predecessors and used a much wider variety of instruments In Beethoven's and Felix Mendelssohn's time in the 19th century, the orchestra was composed of a fairly standard core of instruments, which was very rarely modified. As time progressed, and as the Romantic period saw changes in accepted modification with composers such as Berlioz and Mahler, the 20th century saw that instrumentation could practically be hand-picked by the composer. Saxophones were used in some 20th-century orchestra scores such as Vaughan Williams' Symphonies No.6 and 9 and William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, and many other works as a member of the orchestral ensemble.T

In our releases, one can witness, how in the 20th century saw dramatic innovations in musical forms and styles. Composers and songwriters explored new forms and sounds that challenged the previously accepted rules of music of earlier periods, such as the use of altered chords and extended chords in 1940s-era Bebop jazz. The development of powerful, loud guitar amplifiers and sound reinforcement systems in the 1960s and 1970s permitted bands to hold large concerts where even those with the least expensive tickets could hear the show. Composers and songwriters experimented with new musical styles, such as genre fusions (e.g., the late 1960s fusion of jazz and rock music to create jazz fusion). As well, composers and musicians used new electric, electronic, and digital instruments and musical devices. In the 1980s, some styles of music, such as electronic dance music genres such as house music were created largely with synthesizers and drum machines. Faster modes of transportation such as jet flight allowed musicians and fans to travel more widely to perform or hear shows, which increased the spread of musical styles.

Birthday treat: Fauré plays Fauré 

It's Fauré's birthday. A good few years after I wrote his biography for the Phaidon 20th-Century Composers series, I love him more than ever and would dearly love to start that book all over again. Not the most practical idea at the moment, so instead, here is his own piano roll recording of his Nocturne No.7 in C sharp minor.

While piano rolls do have their limitations, in this case it's the closest we can get to the real thing. He made this in 1910.

How you can help to save the EUYO 

The music world has been shocked today by news that the European Union Youth Orchestra is facing closure, since the EU has not found a suitable new way to fund it. The orchestra should have been celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Instead, it's fighting for its life.

The short-sightedness of this decision seems remarkable even by today's crazy standards. The EUYO has been a magnificent institution, its artistic levels astronomical, its value as a training ground for fine young musicians immeasurable. I well remember that in my student days my peers on orchestral instruments regarded membership of it as the biggest peach on the tree. Above all, and just days after the excellence of youth orchestras was recognised by the RPS Awards, which presented its Large Ensemble prize to the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, to let the EUYO collapse would be much worse than cutting off nose to spite face. It would be to throw out a treasure whose effects are only positive, life-enhancing and unifying.

Here, from the EUYO website, is the background to this state of affairs, which is mired in the obtuse layers of systems we know and don't much love (and I write as a decided Remainer, incidentally). Following this, also from the website, is how you can help.


The European Union Youth Orchestra, a world renowned institution celebrating its fortieth year as a cultural ambassador for the EU, is to cease operations from September 2016 due to a lack of funding from the European Union.

  • The EUYO was founded in1976 following a resolution of the European Parliament.
  • For 38 years, between 1976 and 2013, the EUYO was supported by the EU as a Cultural Ambassador for the EU. It includes players from all 28 EU member states.
  • Since 2014 a change in the EU's cultural funding policy meant that the Orchestra was no longer funded by the EU. Funding was only available for projects under the EU's new Creative Europe programme. Representation was made at the time that this method of funding could not sustain the Orchestra, and that the proposed funding method was inappropriate. With no other option, the Orchestra applied to Creative Europe, and from 2014-15 the Orchestra received some funding under the new Programme.
  • The EUYO was informed on 15 April 2016 that its Creative Europe partnership is no longer in receipt of any funding from the EU. Since that time the Orchestra has been in regular contact with the EU to attempt to find alternative funding from the EU. However the funding routes so far suggested by the EU do not allow the Orchestra to plan any form of secure future.
  • Especially considering the high visibility of many agreed performances this summer - such as the Grafenegg European Music Campus, the Slovak EU Presidency concert, the Wrocław European City of Culture concert and the Alpbach European Forum - the Trustees of the Orchestra have come to the conclusion that it would be harmful to the long term interests of the Orchestra, and of the EU, for the summer 2016 tour to be cancelled. They have therefore decided to take responsibility for the forthcoming tour, and together with the EUYO's Residency Partners, to find the monies required to permit this year’s tour to proceed. The Summer 2016 tour is thus assured.
  • However, without EU support the Orchestra has no viable future. In the absence of EU funding it will therefore cease operations from 1 September.
  • The EUYO has supported more than 3,000 of Europe’s young and emerging classical musicians since its foundation by philanthropists Lionel and Joy Bryer and conductor Claudio Abbado in 1976. The EUYO’s alumni have all come through the Orchestra's rigorous, annual audition process conducted in all (currently 28) EU Member States, and many are now notable conductors, soloists, teachers, and instrumentalists working with major orchestras in the world. The EUYO’s Honorary Patrons include the Heads of Government of all of the EU’s Member States, and the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament. Parliament President Martin Schulz is the EUYO’s Honorary President. The Orchestra acknowledges support from all 28 EU member states.
Sir John Tusa, Trustee, Co-Chair said:
For 40 years the EUYO has been the musical expression of European unity, artistic collaboration and partnership. It is a tragedy that the European Community seems no longer to value such work as a key part of the European project.”
Ian Stoutzker, CBE - Trustee, Co-Chair and Orchestra Board Chair, said:
“I and others became Trustees in 2014 with the sole aim of helping the EUYO to fulfil its mission at the highest level. Recent critical acclaim suggests that we are on our way. Should the Orchestra be abandoned at this point by the EU, the European Union will have scored a spectacular own-goal.”
Marshall Marcus, CEO of the European Union Youth Orchestra said:
"If the EU is not able to help fund its own youth orchestra, an orchestra which is the only organisation in the world that recruits and brings together young people every year from all 28 EU member states in support of the ideals of the Union, then the Orchestra will cease to exist. A sad day for the EU".

How can you help? 
We are beginning a campaign to try to help safeguard a sustainable future of the European Union Youth Orchestra. If you would like to contribute to this campaign there are several ways to do so.
Firstly, you can write to the European Union to express your support for the EUYO and to request that Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Honorary President of the EUYO, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport ensure adequate funding for the continuation of the Orchestra.
If you wish to include information about the EUYO and its achievements then information on the following internet pages may be of use to you:
The letter should be addressed to Mr Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. This can be an email or sent as an attachment to: 
Or by post to:
Mr Tibor Navracsics
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
European Commission
Cabinet of Commissioner Tibor Navracsics
Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
Rue de la Loi 200, 1049 Brussels
If you write by post we would be most appreciative if you could let us know by e mailing our Development and Communications Manager, Charlotte Hamilton at  charlotte@euyo.eu
Secondly, if you wish to make a donation towards the European Union Youth Orchestra appeal fund, please also email our Development & Communications Manager at charlotte@euyo.eu to receive details on how to go about this. 
Alternatively, cheques can be posted to: Charlotte Hamilton, EUYO, 6A Pont Street, London SW1X 9EL. Please make cheques payable to: The European Union Youth Orchestra.
We are in the process of creating a dedicated website to receive online donations and will share this with you in the coming days as soon as it is activated.
Thirdly, please post the following messages on your social media sites: 
FACEBOOK: We ask Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Honorary President of the EUYO, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport to make available funding from the EU to ensure the continuation of one of Europe’s greatest cultural endeavours – the European Union Youth Orchestra. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the EUYO will cease operations on 1 September following a decision by the EU not to fund the Orchestra. For detailed information and ways to show your support, please visit www.euyo.eu
TWITTER: We ask @TNavracsicsEU @EU_Commission, @Europarl_EN, @EUCouncil to support #EU’s #orchestra @euyotweets. #EUYO to close in Sept. #SaveEUYO

A Magic Flute that lived up to its title 

Here's my review of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer's "staged concert" of The Magic Flute the other night. They gave it back its innocence, and with it, magic aplenty. I've sometimes despaired of ever hearing this most beloved of operas performed in bearable style, but Fischer's tempi, his spirit, his humanity and his attention to detail were as close to ideal as one could dream of. http://www.criticscircle.org.uk/?ID=518&PID=5

Save the Budapest Festival Orchestra! 

The Budapest Festival Orchestra - which was in London yesterday to give a stunning performance of The Magic Flute (more of that shortly) - is being threatened with gigantic cuts to its funding from Budapest's Municipal Assembly, amounting to 200m forints - about €940,000 - reducing to 60m forints. That's reducing the funding by around three quarters. On Saturday afternoon the orchestra and its conductor, Iván Fischer, held a musical demonstration in downtown Budapest.

The BFO and Fischer on Saturday. Photo: Balázs Mohai /MTI via hungarytoday.hu

To a packed Vörösmarty Square, Fischer declared (according to Hungary Today): "First and foremost we are here to demonstrate that we really love Budapest and we know, too, that Budapest really loves the Budapest Festival Orchestra... We want a Budapest that has more music, more happiness, more love and less hate." He reportedly spoke out for minority groups, saying that the orchestra wants them to feel as welcome in Budapest as anyone else, in an environment filled with music. In the video above, Hanno Müller-Brachmann sings Sarastro's aria from The Magic Flute, in which the sage tells his assembly that there is no place for revenge and hatred in his realm.

Hungary Today further reports that Budapest's mayor, István Tarlos, has said that the city council will continue to support the orchestra to the extent that its budget permits. Richard Morrison in The Times, though, has quoted a "more sinister reason than austerity" behind the cuts. Fischer's openly humanitarian stances have not always been welcomed under Viktor Orbán's government. 

The orchestra has had to cancel some of its schools and community projects as well as some concerts in Budapest. 

The Budapest Festival Orchestra remains the only orchestra for which I drop everything and run, not only superb but also vivid, flexible, positive and endlessly creative. I'm about to write up a review of last night's Magic Flute, which was a musical dream come true. To slash support for a national treasure of this calibre would be to do something considerably worse to one's own face from spite than cutting off the nose. 

Just listen to the BBC Young Musician of the Year's strings winner 

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 16, has won the strings final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Just listen to him play this Rachmaninoff Elégie, with his sister Isata Kanneh-Mason at the piano. I hope you're as bowled over as I was during my rushed attempt at a catch-up on the competition's progress.

Sheku will be taking his place in the grand final at the Barbican on Sunday alongside saxophonist Jess Gillham and horn player Ben Goldscheider. Three wonderful performers - I just wish all of them could win outright.

Beloved Brahms 

Radio silence here attributable to book. It's going back to the editor on Tuesday, but I am going to Vienna tomorrow and the two things don't really match, so the past week has been intensive. Vienna is to be a wonderfully pianoy trip.

Today, meanwhile, is the birthday of a composer who came from Hamburg, but settled in Vienna because that was where composers settled. He is, of course...

Johannes Brahms, 1853
That is roughly how he'd have looked when he first met Robert and Clara Schumann.

As it's the wunderschönen Monat Mai, the sun's shining and the lilacs are coming out, and things are looking up a bit (London has roundly rejected the Tory party's racist mayoral campaign and elected Sadiq Khan, the first ethnic minority person to hold such high office in this country, with the biggest personal mandate in UK political history), here's Brahms's song 'Meine liebe ist grün' - My love is as green as the lilac tree.

The words are by Felix Schumann - Robert and Clara's youngest son, born in 1854 when Schumann had already been hospitalised in Endenich. Felix died tragically young in 1879. Brahms must have been virtually in loco parentis to him when he was born, and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that there's a torrent of generous love in this music.

Long Read - Forensic Eye, my interview with Katie Mitchell 

Katie Mitchell. Photo: David Levene 

For this weekend's Long Read I invite you to come over to Opera News, the American magazine from New York, for the May issue of which I've interviewed the director Katie Mitchell. The interview took place in the winter, well before the current controversial production of Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden; nevertheless, she talks about her use of split-stage action, her determination to reimagine familiar works from new angles and why feminism can be a creative force in the opera world. We talked a lot about Pélléas et Mélisande, which she is directing at this year's Aix-en-Provence Festival, and her Alcina there in 2015.

ENO appoints artistic director 

Daniel Kramer. Photo: mariinsky.ru
The announcement is in. It's Daniel Kramer. He takes over on 1 August.

The American-British director, 39, is currently staging ENO's new Tristan and Isolde. His work with ENO extends backs to 2008: he was selected as part of ENO’s young director’s initiative for which he directed Punch and Judy at the Young Vic, which won the South Bank Show Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. He also directed Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle for the company at the Coliseum in 2009. 

He is nevertheless best known for his work in theatre, notably as an associate at the Gate, Notting Hill, and the Young Vic, plus being creative associate at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is at a stage of life and career at which we can expect him to be hungry for success and creative about how to achieve it. 

ENO says: "The appointment was made by a panel of ENO Board Members chaired by Harry Brunjes, including Louise Jeffreys and Anthony Whitworth-Jones. The views of members of the Orchestra and Chorus and the senior artistic team were also taken into account. Daniel was unanimously chosen as the exceptional individual from a very strong field of candidates."

Daniel Kramer says: "“I am honoured to join this wonderful Company. The core of English National Opera is its unique Company spirit – its award-winning orchestra and chorus and its incredible staff, stage and house crew. My intention is to champion this family and to inspire audiences night after night with a thrilling programme of musical diversity, attracting audiences from opera to operetta through to popular music. We will work, too, with the wider community outside the Coliseum, to develop emerging talent and new audiences. We are here to play and sing for you. I hope you will join us in this new chapter of our evolution.“

I'm just waiting for the howls of outrage to start sounding round and about at the inclusion of the words "popular music". But if ENO is to remain the company we love and treasure, it needs a figure who can inspire confidence, around whom there is a genuine creative fizz, and who can attract a strong music director to stand alongside him. First sense is that Kramer fits the bill. Can he bring back the glory days? Let's hope so and wish him well with all our hearts, because it probably won't be easy.

Breaking: Zimerman to play last-minute London recital 

Krystian Zimerman. Photo: Kassakra/Deutsche Grammophon

Just in: Mitsuko Uchida has sadly had to cancel her Royal Festival Hall recital tomorrow. They have found a replacement. His name is Krystian Zimerman. He will play Szymanowski Mazurkas Op.50 Nos 13, 14, 15 and 16 and Schubert's two final piano sonatas, D959 in A major and D960 in B flat.

Zimerman has not given a London recital for something like six years, so this is all rather amazing.

Call the box office PDQ on 0207 960 4200. 

Ghost Variations: The Other Violinist 

My newest post at the Unbound Shed for Ghost Variations is about another violinist deeply involved in the story of the Schumann Violin Concerto. It's none other than this month's anniversary giant, Yehudi Menuhin. If you have made a pledge to the book, Unbound automatically emails you every post in my Shed, but you can also dip in of your own accord at this link.

Join our mailing list for the latest news