Behind the scenes

The Sorrows of Angelica Catalani

For almost 3 decades, Angelica Catalani (1780-1849) commanded the operatic stages of Europe. Her powerful soprano voice nearly covered three octaves in range, and it has been suggested “no singer ever surpassed her in chromatic scales, whether in velocity or [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 27th, 2018
Filming Rachmaninov’s Études-Tableaux All Night

Boris Giltburg spent all night playing Rachmaninov for a very special film, revealed here! It’s the dead of night, probably around 3am. Outside, on the main street, cars are still whooshing by. Inside, it’s mostly dark, apart from two spotlights [...] more >>

by Boris Giltburg | September 5th, 2018
The Ochydactyl

Please let me introduce you to probably the most horrendous musical torture device ever invented. It might reasonably have been used to extract confessions during the Spanish Inquisition, but in reality, it was a patented apparatus that was to increase [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 5th, 2018
The Chirogymnast

The importance attached to virtuosity at the beginning of the 19th century is evidenced by the publication of an enormous number of new methods for piano. The great majority was directed towards the acquisition of practical and technical perfection in [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 27th, 2018
The Dactylion

The opening decade of the 21st century is once more gripped by a passion for musical virtuosity. Countless young and aspiring musicians—frequently supported and driven by overzealous parents—are vying to study at the most prestigious conservatories and with the most [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 20th, 2018
Marguerite Dufay – Trombonist

It was always easier to laugh at women instrumentalists than to take them seriously. Entertainer Marguerite Dufay played in the Parisian music cafés in the late 19th century, classified as a ‘comique excentrique.’ A comic eccentric was a performer in [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | April 24th, 2018
Life on the Road III

Life on the road sometimes takes unexpected turns. As we left the first part of our tour diary, midway through our week of six concerts in six days in Scotland, our singer had just lost her voice. Rapid replanning of [...] more >>

by Oliver Pashley | March 9th, 2018
Life on the Road II

Day 1 All ready to go! Heloise (singer) and I are meeting at Euston station to take the train to Glasgow, where we’ll be meeting Anne and Marianne (harp and double bass), who are driving from Reading with the big [...] more >>

by Oliver Pashley | February 20th, 2018