Saturday, 28 July 2018


Shostakovich was only 24 when
he penned the Impromptu op. 33
Video of 20th century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s recently discovered impromptu for Viola and Piano (op. 33) has surfaced on theStrad.

The short piece, which shares the same opus designation as Shostakovich’s music for the Soviet-era film, “Counterplan,” was discovered in Moscow’s central archive in 2017 – the exciting find was revealed on the 25th of September that year, to coincide with the composer’s birthday.

The impromptu was previously unknown to scholars. It was discovered among the possessions of the late violist Vadim Borisovsky, a 40-year veteran of the Beethoven Quartet, who passed away in 1972. How Borisovsky came into possession of the manuscript is uncertain: the three-page document (one title page with autograph: “dated 2 May 1931, Leningrad,” and one page each for the viola and piano parts) bared the dedication to “Alexander Mikhailovch,” (which scholars liken to the violist Alexander Ryvkin of the Glazunov Quartet) with the fond reminiscent: “in memory of our meeting.”

The stunning piece, which Shostakovich titled “Impromptu no. 33” is only one of two known compositions for viola to have been written by the composer. His 147th opus, a Sonata for Viola and piano, which he completed only weeks before his death in early August of 1975, would be his last work.

Listen below to the West coast premiere of Shostakovich’s Impromptu op. 33. Violist Paul Neubauer and pianist Wu Han perform (Lincoln Center, NY):

- Rose.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


*CLICK TO ENLARGE* The Strauss manuscript presently up for auction:
final scene from Die Schweigsame Frau. | Nate D. Sanders Auctions |
Los Angeles auction house Nate D. Sanders Auctions is presently listing for sale an autographed manuscript by Richard Strauss, containing music from the final scene of his 1935 opera 'Die Schweigsame Frau' (The Silent Woman). 

The opera was penned by the composer during his brief tenure as President of the Reichsmusikkammer (Reich Chamber of Music, or, "RMK") during WWII, in conjunction with famed writer Stefan Zweig, who provided the libretto.

The manuscript currently up for auction is autographed by Strauss and contains both marginalia and revisions to the score written in the composer's own hand, which are believed to have been added to the manuscript sometime between c. 1938-42, when Strauss handed the manuscript over to his confidante, the conductor Hans Swarowsky. By this time, Strauss had vacated his post as President of Reichsmusikkammer after a letter written by the composer, which famously rallied against the Reich's regime of promoting nationalistic, politicized music was sent to Zweig, (who was of Jewish descent), and was quickly intercepted by Gestapo Officials.

That letter, dated 17 June, 1935, read (in part):

"Do you believe I am ever, in any of my actions, guided by the thought that I am 'German'? Do you suppose Mozart was consciously 'Aryan' when he composed? I recognize only two types of people: those who have talent and those who have none."

Strauss' tenure as President of the RMK already stood on shaky ground by the time the composer's intimate confessional was discovered by Reich Officials. Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels initially championed the composers works - even going so far as to refer to Strauss as "The Most Venerable Tone Master." This adoration, however, would be short-lived: within weeks of Die Schweigsame Frau's premiere in the summer of 1935, under mounting pressure from Alfred Rosenberg, head of the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur (Militant League for German Culture), discord over the composer's intent to include Zweig's name in the playbill, and the interception of the now infamous letter by Gestapo Officials, Strauss was forced to resign under the auspices of ill health, brought about by "advanced age."

By the time Strauss passed on the manuscript presently up for auction in 1938, 'Die Schweigsame Frau' had been banned across Germany.

This is the second time in two years this fantastic piece of WWII/music history regalia has come up for auction. It was previously listed by London auction house Sotheby's in May 2016.

The starting bid for the manuscript is $15,000 USD.

From Nate D. Sanders Auctions:

“Richard Strauss autograph manuscript signed for the final scene in his 1935 opera ''Die schweigsame Frau'' (''The Silent Woman''), a comedic opera written with librettist Stefan Zweig. Written on three 10.5'' x 14'' pages of bifolium manuscript, Strauss signs ''Richard Strauss'' at the top of the first page, where he also writes ''Schwanengesang'' (''Swan Song'').

Strauss elegantly hand writes the vocal score for bass voice (sung by the lead character ''Sir Morosus'', who here sings ''Wie schon ist doch die musik'', or ''How beautiful music is'') and piano, comprising eighty-six bars on 12-stave paper printed by B. & H. Nr. 5. C., with their watermark. With a few alterations to the words and music, such as ''wunderbar erst wenn sie die Frau'' crossed-out and rewritten, and with score slightly different than published version. Undated but circa 1938 when Strauss gave the manuscript to his friend, conductor Hans Swarowsky. At this time in 1938, the opera was banned in Nazi Germany after only three performances following its premiere in 1935, due to its association with Zweig, who Strauss insisted be credited on the production.

''Die schweigsame Frau'' was one of Strauss' crowning achievements, of which ''The New Grove'' wrote, ''...the character of Sir John Morosus being modeled on that of the Shakespeare-Verdi knight...The clever score is full of 'gems'. Sparking and genuine...'' Manuscript is beautifully presented in a dark green pebbled leather case with gilt titling to front and spine, and with silk moire interiors. Manuscript measures 10.5'' x 14'' and case measures 13'' x 17''. Uniform toning and very small hole to page two from erasure to one word. Overall in very good to near fine condition, an exquisite presentation.”

The Strauss manuscript is listed as Lot 31 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. Bidding is now open for prospective buyers, with a deadline of 5PM PST this Thursday, July 26th, 2018.

Those interested can place their bids here:

Listen below to Morosus' gorgeous Monologue "Wie schön ist doch die Musik" from Richard Strauss' "Die shweigsame Frau." The eminent German Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff performs:


For more information on Strauss’ Die Schweigsame Frau, the composer’s relationship with Stefan Zweig, and his tenure as president of the Reichsmusikkammer, visit

Here on Unraveling Musical Myths.

- Rose.


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- Rose.


Breaking news out of Italy: a major discovery has been made at the University of Pavia: a manuscript parchment leaf containing primitive annotations of medieval music, which scholars have dated 1100 AD has been located in the University’s library, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC) reported Monday.

*CLICK TO ENLARGE* The ancient manuscript, "antifonio IX," c.1100 AD.  Illustrated detail enlarged at R.
| MiBAC, Roma, Italy |

The rare document was discovered purely by chance: it was tucked inside an antique volume of Giovanni De Deis, In Ecclesia Mediolanensi (Milan, Melchiorre Malatesta, 1628), presently undergoing restoration under the financial backing of MiBAC.

Speaking with Italian press, Minister
Alberto Bonisoli highlighted the find, underscoring the importance of literary preservation and the city’s endeavors to fund restorations:

"The discovery of this precious document confirms how important the work of protection and research towards the country's book collection is. Collaboration with the university world and its library system is also fundamental."

The Director-General for Libraries and Cultural Institutes of MiBAC, Paola Passarelli, agreed:

"This discovery is the result of different synergies able to use the tools of the present to rediscover the words and, in this case, the "notes" of the past. The ancient antiphonary is a return to the origins, a fragment of the past that continues to remain in the present, fueling the inexhaustible dialogue with our cultural memory. Because books, and with them libraries, are this: caskets of knowledge, guardians of narratives of knowledge to launch the challenge to our future. The rediscovered parchment has already been inserted into a passe-partout that allows it to read recto-verso, ready to be studied."

A “passe-partout,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is a method of mounting a fragile document in which strong gummed paper is used to bind the material to it’s backing. In this instance, the parchment was smeared with “animal glue” to adhere to a cardboard backing.

The restoration of the Giovanni De Deis volume was carried out by
Alessandra Furlotti, who discovered the relic in the “Salone Teresiano” of the University Library when she noticed a “separation” in the binding of the book near it’s rear. Upon inspection, Furlotti discovered the parchment, tucked away - recycled at some point in the very distant past as material for reinforcement. It was not at all an uncommon occurrence in the early days of bookbinding for bookbinders to use any material made available to them – from music manuscripts, to newsprint, and even pages from other books themselves to re-bind aging books.

Whoever re-bound the Deis volume with the manuscript ensconced the parchment in animal glue of an unknown origin – perhaps aiding in the preservation of the document itself, which is described as a

 “, almost complete, of an antiphonary, or a breviary that also included the liturgical parts, certainly one of the oldest that can be studied today, dateable around 1100 [and one which] can be placed in the Novara area.”

The manuscript is also illustrated. 

From the miBAC press release:

“The document is also decorated with a difficult to interpret miniature, which represents a mythological animal with colored legs and snake features.”

The ancient relic was authenticated by French musicologist Dominique Gatté.

There are no further updates at this time. 

Official Press Release (miBAC)

- Rose. 

Monday, 23 July 2018


A famous capture of Carlos Kleiber, enthusiastically immersed in von Weber's
epic Der Freischütz. This footage was captured during rehearsals in 1970 with
the Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester. The film was featured in the Schultz
documentary "I am Lost to the World: Traces to Nowhere" in 2010.
Those who have had the pleasure of reading conductor Charles Barber’s incredibly revealing 2011 biography on the eminent maestro, "Corresponding With Carlos," will by now be quite familiar with the Austrian icon’s delightfully drôle sense of humor.

It could be self-deprecating:

“I am sorry to say: I hardly conduct at all; so that would mean you would be totally hors d’oeuvre (out of work) and horrified at my lack of interest, energy, initiative, and so forth … I’m a real mess, actually. Don’t tell anyone, please.”[1]


"I’ve given up music, incidentally. But maybe I’ll still conduct. That would make me…what? A professional?"[2]
“you are the only person that writes to me! I have successfully alieanated (spelling?) all other would-be correspondents. If they are American, I do it with Abe. With other countries…well, I find a way!”[3]
and even crass:
“regarding ORIGINALITY: the warm glow one gets from growing things from scratch on one’s own dungheap IS gratifying, though I’d hate to have to re-invent the telephone, for instance”[4]

Barber's exciting 2011 release, Corresponding with
is an absolute must-have in the collection of
any Kleiber aficionado. There is, in my opinion, no
greater source material for a biographical work than
the intimate exchanges left behind by the subject.
Barber expertly weaves these prized relics into the
compelling narrative of a shared musician that is as
much scholarly in it's context as it is astonishingly
refreshing in detail. You do not want to miss this
gem. Copies can be found on Amazon for purchase.
These humorous quotes are from rare, intimate exchanges between Kleiber and the author - who, quite daringly, contacted the notoriously reclusive conductor first by mail in 1989, seeking the maestro's expertise as a budding young conductor himself, despite fair forewarning to expect the cold shoulder as a form of response. What Barber received in return was anything but. How fortunate for him - and how incredibly lucky for us!

Whilst Barber’s impressive collection may not amass to treasure trove status – rare as the letters are – they remain the richest source of biographical data on the revered maestro: they contain priceless insight into the mind of a musical perfectionist, and reveal the child-like persona underneath – one which seems to both perfectly neutralize, yet at the same time, compliment an illusive, self-doubting genius.

Kleiber’s whimsical personality was further highlighted in the 2010 documentary I am Lost to the World: Traces to Nowhere by director Eric Schultz, which featured the commentary of former colleagues of the maestro. In this brief film, we learn of Kleiber’s penchant for slapstick, as his makeup artist, Martha Scherer recounts:

“…on carnival Tuesday, there was always a performance of Fledermaus, and in the interval before act three, he changed into fancy dress. His disguise was a well-kept secret. Everyone wanted to know beforehand what it would be, but it all happened behind locked doors to heighten the suspense.”

Photographer Anne Kirchbach was fortunate enough to capture Kleiber hamming it up before the orchestra:
“Here he is dressed as Boris Becker - tennis ball in hand…sometimes he threw it up into the air, and he conducted with the tennis racquet.”

It wasn’t only tennis legends that Kleiber “masterfully” imitated – Kirchbach managed to photograph the maestro in full period costume several times over: as Becker, Johann Strauss Jr. (resplendent with curled mustache for authenticity), and Bhagwan.

Barber has generously shared these captures with the world. View them by clicking the links below:

Herein enters a juvenile self portrait, drawn by Kleiber’s own hand, in which even his scribbled “personage” dons a disguise. The portrait, which Kleiber titled “Carlos el Club,” depicts the young musician as 20th century Italian crooner Carlo Buti, a tenor then immensely popular in Argentina, where the Kleiber clan set up shop in 1935. 

Kleiber biographer Alexander Werner first brought this gem to our collective attention, and Kleiber fans, such as myself, are certainly thankful:

"Carlos el Club," a self-portrait of Carlos Kleiber,
disguised as Italian crooner Carlo Buti. The 'costume's
devilish 'tail' (possibly a belt strap), is humorously
supplanted by a high ticket fare of twenty five dollars.
|, Werner |
This ‘rare’ portrait provides yet another glimpse into the man behind the legend – a man who, contrary to popular belief, was not the misanthropic, staid figure of mythical lore.

According to Austrian opera director Otto Schenk (the mastermind behind Kleiber’s wildly successful Fledermaus at the Bayerischen Staatsoper):
“[Kleiber] was so incredibly gifted he could afford to take the Mickey out of the conductor's job.”

Listen below to an incredibly rare interview* featuring Carlos Kleiber, recorded from a 1960 radio broadcast aired on NDR in Hamburg. This recording is believed to be the only (surviving) radio interview featuring the maestro. During the interview, Kleiber is repeatedly questioned about the influence and encouragement of his father, the eminent conductor Erich Kleiber. Perhaps most revealing is the reluctant Erich’s suggestion, following Carlos’s failed tenure as a student in Zurich (and subsequent return to Argentina), of conducting an operetta: “..he said I would learn more [this way]…I would say it was the most difficult way!” 

Prompted by the interviewer as to whether his father (who only relented to his son’s wish to study the art of conducting following his return from Switzerland) had arranged for his studious son meetings with potential employers, Kleiber revealed, “No, he didn’t wish to get involved – he even suggested I change my name, which I did.” ("Carlos Kleiber" would become "Karl Keller" for his conducting debut at Potsdam in 1954.)

(*Interview auf Deutsch. Teiltranskript verfügbar: YouTube-Kommentare)


Enjoy below a recording of "Passione Argentina" by Carlo Buti, the subject of impersonation in Kleiber's self portrait. The Italian crooner enjoyed massive album sales across Italy and Argentina, and was hailed as "The Golden Voice of Italy," and "The first Italian music superstar of 20th century." It's clear to see why Kleiber chose to honor him with a shared likeness:


  • [1] Corresponding with Carlos, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Barber, Charles, pp. xv (undated)
  • [2] Corresponding with Carlos, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Barber, Charles, pp. 27, 2 February 1996 
  • [3] Corresponding with Carlos, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Barber, Charles, pp. xviii
  • [4] Corresponding with Carlos, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Barber, Charles, pp. 79, 20 December 1992

Learn more (Internal links):

Sunday, 22 July 2018


Felix Mendelssohn. This likeness of the composer
was painted in 1847 by Wilhelm Hensel, brother -
in-law to Felix through Fanny, the latter's sister.
The famous Christie’s Auction House in London caused quite the stir among fans of 19th century Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn back in 2014 when it announced it would be putting up for auction a recently re-discovered manuscript authored by the famous musician late in his career: that of a long lost short lied, comprised of 29 bars for an alto voice and Piano (in A flat major), which Mendelssohn titled "Das Menschen Herz ist ein Schacht" (The heart of man is like a mine), after the second stanza of a poem by famed German writer Friedrich Rückert, Das Unveränderliche.

The tender lied, penned by Mendelssohn in 1842 when the composer was 33, had previously been known to scholars for some time – it first surfaced at an auction in Leipzig in 1862, hailed as an entirely “unknown” song[1] written by the composer, only to resurface once more at auction in 1872.

The music, which prior to 2014 had never been published, is believed by scholars to have been a private commission for one “Hofrath (Councilor) Theichmann,”[2] former secretary to the Royal Theater in Berlin. Experts based their conclusions on a blurb from an accompanying catalogue handed out at the 1872 auction, which describes the lied as having been “Written down for Herr Privy Councillor Teichmann at his specific request.” [3] Das Menschen… appears to have received no further mention in surviving documents of either men, save for a letter of thanks from Teichmann to Mendelssohn dated 30 April 1842, in which the secretary thanks the composer for a[n] [unnamed] lied (and subsequently requests a copy for his sister in law).[4]

The manuscript remained largely forgotten until the 21st century, when it was brought to the attention of Christie’s in 2014. The only information released to the public at the time was that the manuscript - which also contained a handwritten letter in the hand of Mendelssohn instructing Herr Teichmann not to publish or otherwise circulate the lied – somehow came into the possession of a private collector in the United States, who, for reasons unspecified, wanted to sell the rare relic.

*CLICK TO ENLARGE*  Manuscript for Felix Mendelssohn's 1842
lied "
Das Menschen Herz ist ein Schacht," and accompanying letter,
instructing the recipient of the piece, Herr Teichmann, not to circulate
the work. The commission would be among Mendelssohn's last - he
would die some 5 years following the creation of Das Menschen, at age
38 in Leipzig. The document would first pop up at auction in the German
city in 1862, where it caused quite the spectacle as a hitherto unknown work.
The manuscript, and accompanying letter was sold by Christie’s Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books department for a whopping £60,000 on May 21, 2014, some £35,000 over it’s top estimated selling price.

Das Menschen... is a charming piece indeed: it is a metaphorical ode to the human heart, which Rückert compares to a mine – capable of producing vast riches: the likes of gold, silver and ore, but which can only offer to the outside world the gems (or lack of) that are contained within.

The private lied received it’s world premiere on BBC Radio 4 on May 6, 2014. Listen below to a blast from the past with a fine rendition performed by Assistant Professor of Voice at The University of Minnesota School of Music, Adriana Zabala, accompanied by Timothy Lovelace (Asst. Prof. of Collaborative Piano) with narration provided by Peter Mercer-Taylor, Asst. Prof. of Musicology the University:

[1,3,4]The Mendelssohns: Their Music in History, pp. 9, ed. John Michael Cooper, Julie D. Prandi, Oxford University Press, 2003

[2]Johann Valentin. Teichmann’s official title was “Secretary to the Intendant-general of Royal Theatres in Berlin,” a post first obtained in 1817 with the assistance of German literary icon Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
External links:
- Rose.

Saturday, 21 July 2018


Famed English composer Sir Edward Elgar
The latest word out Worcestershire, the hometown of 19th century composer Edward Elgar, is that of a truce. According to the local press, a “harmonious agreement” over the hotly contested shifting of archival material from The Firs in lower Broadheath (the cottage where Elgar was born, and home of the former Elgar Birthplace Trust, established by the composer's only daughter Carice in 1935) to The British Library in London.

Word of the transfer sparked both fear and outrage among a sect of residents in the lush village – should the archive move to the bustling city, they pointed out, it would mark the first time in over half a century that the treasure trove of documents related to the English icon would fall out of Worcestershire hands.

The contents of the archive, which contain research material, scores, newspaper clippings, photographs and scrapbooks were deposited with the county record office in 1966 by Carice, and were later transferred to the Elgar Birthplace Museum in 2002.

Trustees of The Elgar Foundation, acting on stipulations left in Carice’s will, informed the press earlier this month that such a move was both necessary and beneficial for the promotion of Elgar’s music across a broader spectrum - something the Elgar family wanted – emphasizing the significance of the digitization process for online inquiry, a move which will greatly improve the accessibility of archival material for those unable to make the trek to Broadheath.

Some 3,000+ concerned citizens contested the transfer by means of a petition. Among the petitioners were several county chiefs, with Councilor Lucy Hogson leading the appeal. Hogson offered an alternative solution to the delicate issue: a consideration of a move to the nationally accredited Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS.)

In the end, it was the intervention of MP Harriett Baldwin of Malvern – the adjacent spa town that was known to have been the source of inspiration for many of Elgar’s works – who contacted both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and The Elgar Foundation for an amicable resolution.

As a result of those interactions, a large portion of the “Birthplace Collection” is slated to remain housed at Broadheath, whilst select documents – some letters and manuscripts – will reside at The British Library, where they are currently being prepped for digitization.

The Elgar "Birth Cottage" at The Firs recently underwent refurbishment after reports surfaced it was operating at a loss of £50,000 as a humble Museum, and garnering only 8,000 visits per year. 

Conservation efforts and a decision to shift the property from museum to a visitor attraction began in early 2017. Since then, attendance at the residence has skyrocketed – it is estimated that an excess of 20,000 people have visited the Firs since it was re-opened under National Trust management. 

Did you know?

The "Enigma Riddle" - an elaborate hoax or enigmatic mystery?
Many attempts at cracking the code have been made over the
years - in 2017, a Cleveland policeman called the theme of the
Variations a counterpoint on Liszt's symphonic poem, Les
His 'conclusion' gained considerable mention in the press.
Edward Elgar, former Master of the King's Music under England’s King George V, left behind not only a legacy of Pomp and Circumstance, but also a potential “riddle” – one which has become fodder for both quizzical musicians and conspiracy theorists alike. It was how the maestro described his “Enigma Variations" (Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36):
“...a dark saying [which] must be left unguessed... over the whole set another and larger theme 'goes,' but is not played...”
and the origins of the variations themselves (a product of the composers frequent parlor adaptations on a theme, in which a tune would be played, then later adapted to serve as musical caricatures of his friends, at which point Elgar would have his wife, Caroline Alice, wager guesses as to who was the object of the variation) that inspired musical sleuths across the globe to don the cap of detective in a valiant effort to solve what can only be described as an enigmatic mystery.

The quest to uncover the mystery of the Enigma Variations – and the efforts to debunk the theory of an ever present, unplayed theme hidden in the work – both continue to thrive well into the 21st century: see NPR: "Enigma still keeps music detectives busy."

Compounding the issue was the composer’s love of cryptography. Elgar famously penned an enciphered letter to one Dora Penny – a possible love interest 21 years his junior – in the summer of 1897. The letter, believed by many to have been a potential declaration of love from a married man to the stepdaughter of a family friend, became known as the “Dorabella Cipher.”

The infamous Dorabella Cipher of Edward Elgar.

In a rather interesting turn of events, the “uncrackable mystery” of the Enigma Variations would serve as the source of inspiration for the infamous Enigma coding machine used by the German forces in WWII.

The Dorabella Cipher has yet to be (officially) cracked.

Penny was included in the Enigma Variations – the 10th variation, “Dorabella” is a tribute the young girl – her stutter charmingly parodied by the woodwinds: (16:01-18:25)

Related (External Link):

Thursday, 19 July 2018


Rossini's Semiramide under Sir Mark Elder will
mark the first release under the new partnership.
Niche operatic record label Opera Rara, praised for its persistent championing of rare and obscure works, has scored a vital boon with the major record label Warner Records (Classics division) as the world-famous institution recently inked a deal to take on worldwide distribution for all future Opera Rara recordings.

The premiere release under the new partnership will be a recording of Gioachino Rossini’s 1823 tragic opera Semiramide, performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under the baton of the artistic director of Opera Rara, Sir Mark Elder, on September 7, 2018.

The recently discovered Donizetti opera, L’Ange de Nisida, which held it’s premiere at London’s Covent Garden yesterday, July 18, 2018, will be the next album to be released under the new partnership.

Russian coloratura Albina Shagimuratova will appear on the Semiramide release by Opera Rara. Listen below to the talented soprano sing the titular character’s stratospheric cavatina, Bel raggio lusinghier in a separate performance:

Learn more:


The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, Paul Delaroche, 1833, National Gallery London

As the 465th anniversary of the brief reign of England’s “9 Days Queene” reaches it’s apex today (Queen Jane ruled from the 10th of July to the 19th, 1553, until she was infamously overthrown by Mary I of the House of Tudor), much speculation continues to abound as to whether the young royal can be – or ever was – recognized as a legitimate "Queen."

Nearly half a millennium has passed since the execution of Grey, yet it seems the very same theocratic and social divides which so infamously undermined Jane’s blink-of-an-eye reign remain today the chief and aggregate source of groups both denying, and validating the legitimacy of her rule.

Compounding the issue is the careful attribution of “Lady” to Jane Grey – not “Queen” on the Official website of the British Monarchy - a title of peerage granted the former monarch via her marriage to Lord Guildford Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland in May of 1553. Although the same site references Jane’s “reign” and acknowledges that the young royal was deposed, the choice of assigning her to a lesser title has only served to further confuse the issue of legitimacy.

The reality of Jane’s reign, as de-facto Queen of England and Ireland, and the legitimacy of her claim to the British throne can be traced through the Tudor family tree, and the various Acts of Succession, including the “Devise for the Succession” written, and amended by King Edward VI in 1553.

King Henry VIII would inadvertently continue to make
heads roll well after his death thanks to his various Acts of
Successions. His only legitimate son, sired by Jane Seymour,
Edward VI, would pick up where his indecisive father left off
with the creation, and later amendment, of his own "Device"
Jane was of re-instituted royal stock: as Great-granddaughter to Henry VII, founder of the House of Tudor, and Great-grand niece of King Henry VIII, the former monarch had blue blood coursing through her veins. She famously made an appearance in the Third Succession Act of Henry VIII (which I will discuss in detail below), which granted the King license to bequeath the Crown of England in his Will. 

Forgoing his children to death or sterility, the throne would by legitimate default fall to the heirs of Mary Tudor (note: not the same person as "Bloody Mary"),  the younger sister to Henry VIII and present Queen of France. Out was the line of sister Margaret (which would have (eventually) favored Mary, Queen of Scots), who defiantly wed Scotch king James IV, much to her brother’s disapproval – Scotland being a historical enemy of England.

Jane was the granddaughter of Mary Tudor, through Mary’s daughter Frances, Duchess of Suffolk. Henry’s Third Act of Succession, which directly included Jane as a default to the throne (she would even bypass her mother, who, for reasons unspecified by the king, was omitted from inheriting the Crown), would prove to be the young girl’s undoing.

Legitimacy often proved to be a fleeting construct of the Tudor court: Henry VIII’s second Act of Succession, passed in 1536, would infamously declare both of the king’s daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, as bastards of invalid unions, thus prohibiting either from inheriting the Crown.

It was only at the persistent prodding of Henry’s final consort, Catherine Parr, that a third Act of Succession would be passed some 7 years later, which would restore both Princesses to the line of succession, and which was further supported by Henry’s Will. Quite problematically, however, both were still declared as illegitimate spawn.

*CLICK TO ENLARGE* Edward VI's edited "Devise for the Succession"
Edward, the King’s only legitimate son, did issue a “Devise for the Succession,” which he revised shortly before his death – which initially listed the “heirs masles [males]” of Lady Frances as heirs apparent. However, as the sickly king grew ever more ill, and as it became increasingly apparent that he may not live to see Lady Frances conceive a son, he was inclined to favor the sons of Lady Jane. 

This too was an issue, as young Jane also had not yet sired any children – let alone a son. Again, the Devise was adjusted accordingly: “L Jane and[*] her heires masles [male heirs]” would be hastily scrawled on the document. 

Legally, Edward’s Devise fell into a grey area of validity. It was issued under Letters Patent, which by law could not overturn an Act of Parliament. Thus, Henry’s Third Succession Act, which was passed by the Parliament of England in 1543, remained the de-facto Act of Succession.

The Tudor era was fraught with religious turmoil – Edward was of staunch Protestant faith, as was Lady Jane Grey, and an ever-increasing segment of the English population, who frequently engaged in violent quarrels with old school Catholics. Edward’s duplicitous Uncle, Thomas Seymour (the very same who would later slice at the skirts of a young Elizabeth) married Catherine Parr after Henry’s death and took Jane under his wing and raised her in the faith. Jane would likewise be wedded to a devout Protestant in Lord Guildford Dudley, whose father, John, 1st Duke of Northumberland, was as eager to install himself or his heirs to the throne of England as was Seymour. He was also adamant on a wholly Protestant England – having Mary restored to the line of succession simply would not do.

Boy-king Edward VI was only 9 years old when he
inherited the throne from his father, Henry VIII. The Duke
of Northumberland, John Dudley would effectively rule
in the young monarch's stead during his brief minority.
Dudley's leadership would come to an abrupt end by the
early death of the King. His execution would soon follow.
Northumberland would strong arm Edward into adhering to the principles set forth by Henry VIII's second Act of Succession, which had previously made Mary illegitimate, and thus ineligible for the throne - taking full advantage of Edward’s shared conviction in the Protestant faith by further unleashing a campaign of fear in the mind of the king over Mary’s intense devotion to Catholicism. Of course, this was but a clever ploy by Northumberland to segue into talks of issuing a Devise of Succession, installing his daughter in law, Lady Jane, in Mary’s place. Northumberland certainly held influence over the young and impressionable king – he was the second most powerful person in the realm next to the Monarch – he served as de facto Regent during the minority of Edward.

There is much evidence to support Mary’s desire to keep Jane imprisoned for an indefinite period – but as civil war threatened to erupt and as Dudley’s underhanded machinations to strengthen his claim to a dynastic line of his own became known to the greater public, the pressure was on Mary to order for Jane’s execution. In fact, a sentence of death for both Jane and Dudley was ordered in 1553 – in Renaissance times, one did not typically linger for long periods of time after a warrant of execution was issued, yet Mary chose to allow both to languish in prison until 1554.

It was a tragic time for all involved – fighting crises of faith and with each party struggling to uphold the same, whilst simultaneously taking measures to preserve their own life. It was a fate that did not discriminate: even Mary had to make the call that meant life or death for Jane, versus life or death for herself and the followers of her faith – the very subjects a future Queen was duty bound to protect. Mary was left with little choice: Jane’s own father was a member of the recently formed Wyatt rebellion – an insurgent sect dead set on preventing Mary’s marriage to the Catholic Philip II of Spain by any means necessary. The rage was palpable: not only was Philip a devout Catholic, but a foreigner, from a historically rivalrous nation to England. This made Mary’s life, as much as Jane’s (if not more so) disposable.

Villain or victim? In an age not far removed from Kings
earning crowns on the battlefield, Mary Tudor was left
with little choice but to eliminate the competition.
Unfortunately, this meant sending a reigning Queen and
her young husband to their violent deaths. The fallout
for Mary was great - she may have gained the Crown,
but in death, Lady Jane Grey earned the distinction of
a martyr. Her execution was not one Protestant England
would forget. Mary's reign was infamously marked by
an onslaught of terror against members of the faith: bloody
scenes of protestants burned at the stake became her calling
card, and history has henceforth assigned her the pejorative
moniker "Bloody Mary."
In the end, Mary chose to save herself and her country by eliminating the very real threat posed by Jane’s continuing existence. The age of kingship through battle was still very much a recent reality for sixteenth century Britons - it was not unheard of for a contender to the throne to kill off the competition: the Tudor line of Monarchs was established by this very method in 1485, at the infamous Battle at Bosworth Field, which saw the forces of Henry Tudor (future Henry VII, grandfather to Edward) outnumber and assassinate the “usurper” to the throne, Richard III, Duke of York. That battle not only established the Tudor royal line – it effectively brought about the culmination of the 3 decades long war between the houses of York and Lancaster, the so-called “Wars of the Roses.”

In the same vein, the unfortunate Jane was little more than a pawn in the political and power hungry aspirations of the men sworn to honor and protect her – it didn’t start with Dudley, although he would be the one to effectively end her life. Thomas Seymour himself also envisaged a Protestant England, and did everything in his power – from visiting the private bedchamber of a pubescent heiress in Elizabeth (while scantily clad to boot) to marrying Henry’s widow, and ‘adopting’ Jane, conditioning her from an early age to follow the Protestant agenda (in the blind hope that he could achieve untold power through her, as it appeared all of his previous, lofty efforts for regal status amounted to naught.)

Seymour would later be executed for his treason.

Then there is the issue of Jane’s own father, the newly minted Duke of Suffolk, who was presently riding high on the power extolled by his recently acquired status, and who sought to add to his fortune though the wedded unions of his daughters. It was he who agreed to the arranged marriage of Jane to Dudley (the aforementioned son of the powerful Duke of Northumberland – who, incidentally, had aspirations of his own: should his offspring (Dudley) impregnate Jane with a son of her own, Northumberland would become grandfather to a future King). By allowing Jane’s marriage to Northumberland’s son, the Duke of Suffolk was, in effect, arranging a union for his own daughter with the young man who, thanks to a parent who cared less for the life of his child than his own prosperity, would become instrumental in securing her untimely death.

Jane was surrounded by duplicitous, ruthless men from every corner and though every stage of her young life. Her fate was sealed long before her guilty sentence was passed.

She was, however – and will forever remain, a former de-facto Queen of England.


Queen Jane’s tragic life would prove to be a rich source of inspiration in the artistic realm: Delaroche famously captured her likeness (and execution) in an imagined portrait (seen at the header of this article). In the stunning piece, the angelically clad 17 year old deposed monarch stumbles before the execution block, her arms outstretched, searching in vain for what is to become the final place where she will rest her head. The Delaroche portrait draws on contemporary eye witness accounts to the execution, which depict the teenager as having so pitiably uttered “where is it?” as she fell to her knees before the wooden block. Her eyes bound by a kerchief, the last gentle touch she would feel in her all too short life was by a deputy of the frigid, damp prison which had been her home for over a year, who guided her to her death.

In music, Jane would be the subject of the English balladeer. Her legacy would permeate the realm of muses, becoming fodder for poets and composers well into the 20th century, branching out of the Scepter'd Isle and into Western Europe. Arnold Schoenberg would borrow from the text of poet Heinrich Ammann (1864-1950), in the latter’s "Jane Grey" for his 12th opus, "Zwei Balladen" (two ballads). Jane Grey is the first of the two balladen. It was composed by Schoenberg very early in his career, falling in line with the famous Austrian’s oeuvre of lieder, which would come to symbolize his pre-atonal period (although Schoenberg described the balladen as "direct forerunners of the Second String Quartet" [op.10]). He would compose Zwei Balladen between March and April of 1907 for entrance into a ballad competition (he did not win).

Ammann's moving prose takes much poetic license – it favors displaying the grief of both executioner and Lord Dudley (in contrast to Jane, who walks to her death bravely, her head held high) as the young, equally condemned former consort king bids farewell to his wife, who is watching the progression of his death march from behind the window of her prison cell. It is this tender moment – when Dudley greets Jane for the final time, that Schoenberg’s ballad reveals it’s climax.

Listen below to “Jane Grey” by Arnold Schoenberg, from “Zwei Balladen" (Glenn Gould accompanies mezzo-soprano Helen Vanni:)

text (in English - click on "Continue Reading Here" for the German text):
They led him out through the courtyard, grim
The price of death to pay
Behind the casement stood his young wife,
The lovely Princess, Jane Grey.

Her fair young head
From the lattice leaned out,
Her throat gleamed white by my fay,
He raised his clanking fetters high,
And greeted his wife Jane Grey.

And as they returned with his headless form
She saw them bear it away,
Then she with joy trod the self-same path,
This fair young princess Jane Grey.

The headsman quailed at her comely grace
And wept for his gentle prey;
To join her Lord in eternity then went
The Princess Jane Grey.

The world has seem blooms young and fair
Unnumbered passed away
Yet none was more lovely, more pure and fair
Than Dudley’s wife Jane Grey.

And still the wind as it sighs
And moans through the leafy branches that sway,
Doth whisper low how untimely died
The fair young Princess Jane Grey.
English translation by Claude Averling.

- Rose.


Remember this?

Several years ago I published an article on the scientific analyses of Professor Echternach of Germany's Freiburg Institute, who was conducting research on the impact on the human vocal cords  as they are subjected to the heavy load and astronomically high registers commonly employed by operatic performers. The professor uploaded fascinating MRI videos of baritone
Michael Volle and Mezzo-Soprano Joanne Calmel as they sang Wagner and "Bruder Jacob," respectively (the German version of the French folk song "Frère Jacques.")

The results were astonishing, to say the least.

Now, an equally awe-inspiring anatomical video, uploaded to the popular video sharing hub YouTube in 2010 has been making the rounds on the world wide web. It features four classically-trained vocalists, each undergoing an endoscopy of the vocal tract, which records the singers as they perform a stunning rendition of 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria's "Kyrie" from his ethereal motet "O Magnum Mysterium," composed in 1572 when Victoria was only 24.

You may want to look away if you are squeamish:

- Rose. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


Schumann-Haus Leipzig |
Classical music insider website Slippedisc is reporting a major development at the Schumann-Haus in Leipzig - chiefly, that it is scheduled to undergo what on the surface, appears to be a not insignificant amount of remodeling, set to coincide with the 2019 Schumann Festival Week held annually in the Saxon city.

The breaking news site describes the renovation as one that will "knock down walls" to make room for Clara, the composer and wife of Leipzig icon Robert Schumann. 

The reconstruction is confirmed on the Schumann-Haus website in scant detail, save for the vague preface that the redesign will shower extra focus onto the Mrs., with a representative of the Schumann-Verein Leipzig promising the renovation will be a "newly remodeled museum, completely designed with Clara Schumann in mind."

This historical significance of this museum is exemplary: it was the first apartment shared by the Schumann's as a couple and played host as a leading salon for some major movers and shakers of the Romantic era: Hector Berlioz, Félix Mendelssohn and Franz Liszt were all known to frequent the home, and it's where Robert Schumann famously composed his "Spring Symphony" (no. 1 in b flat major), from the comfort of his former study.

The renovated relic is scheduled to open in September 2019 in time for the yearly Festival, which, incidentally, coincides with Robert and Clara's wedding anniversary on the 12th of September (1840), and Clara's birthday, on the 13th (1819).

Listen below to Robert Schumann's "Spring Symphony," performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwängler (live recording, Munich, October 29, 1951:)

- Rose.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


©Katharina Schiffl
It's a likeness that would have made the notoriously image-conscious conductor proud.

The famous Austrian Icon was memorialized this evening with an unveiling at Vienna's Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, exactly 1 day and 29 years after his death of a heart attack in July, 1989.

The life-like statue is the museum's 89th acquisition, and was produced in London, in conjunction with the Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute a team of twenty, costing some €200,000. Fine attention was paid to detail: the process of installing hair onto the head of the figure alone took six months to complete, with each strand being individually inserted into the wax.

The former Principal Conductor for life of the Berlin Philharmonic was an institute unto himself whilst alive: a titan of industry, Karajan infamously produced highly manicured video and audio recordings (the videos often focusing more on glamorizing the image of the conductor than the orchestra - the maestro's wish). He is believed to have sold an excess of 300 million records whilst still alive - this, in an age of waning support for the arts. He was a prolific performer, conducting over 3,300 concerts globally, and is remembered fondly as one of the greatest to have ever held a baton.

While the wax likeness is sure to ruffle some feathers, one cannot deny the air brushed façade as being a classic Karajan-ism.

Speaking to with reporters, Henry Ladewig of the Karajan Institute remarked upon the Karajan’s induction into the museum: “Herbert von Karajan would have been very proud and grateful to be immortalized here.”

Surely, the maestro would have approved.

Listen below to one of Karajan's most memorable performances, from the 1987 Vienna New Year's Eve Concert, Kathleen Battle performs Johann Strauss' Frühlingsstimmen:

- Rose.

Sunday, 1 July 2018


Royal Albert Hall, exterior.
Music lovers rejoice! It’s that time of year again – as concert hopping mélophiles pour into London in droves for Proms Season, eager to score a seat at the renowned Royal Albert Hall where they can bask in the aural nirvana of lush orchestral delights presented in the historic theatre, one question remains – who will fill the Grand Tier Box adjacent to Queen Elizabeth – whose royally reserved box sits just two away from the twelve seater currently on sale by Harlod’s Estates?

It’s been over a year since a fierce row ignited between musicians, promoters, charities and a select few wealthy permanent seat holders at the RAH over the latter’s use of outside vendors for ticket re-sale profits, skirting the venue’s – itself a charity – established return scheme for unwanted tickets.

On one side of the fence, permanent members cited the legality of the controversial practice – disseminating amongst it’s holders a pamphlet advising the use of re-sell websites Viagogo and StubHub in order to sell unwanted tickets at inflated prices and secure a larger financial return than that offered under the rigid rules of the Charity Regulatory Board, which was designed to reduce unnecessary and excessive profiteering by it’s members.

To put things into perspective, the venue, which seats 5,272 people, boasts 330 RAH members, who collectively own 1, 267 permanent seats – roughly 24% of the theatre. Last January, alerted to the emergence of the advisory pamphlet, former RAH President Richard Lyttleton called the practice “a national disgrace,” and one which risks significantly damaging the reputation of the venue. “Members of the hall’s council [trustees] own 145 seats worth conservatively £14.5m,” he added, emphasizing the present power play of the Hall's wealthy elite over its ticket holders.

RAH, interior. The Royal Albert Hall bursts at the seams during Proms season
Clearly, this information left a sour taste in the mouth of both the public and the regulatory board – and in particular with musicians slated to perform at the venue, who lambasted the small fraction of permanent seat holders engaging in the practice as having usurped charitable profits by cashing in on an unsuspecting public, making many thousands of dollars profit annually - upwards of £8-10,000 per member during a good year - money which should be invested back into the Charity to sustain the historic venue.

Since then, RAH has done an about-face, listing for sale with Harold’s Estates a twelve seater Grand Tier box, rarely seen on the market, for the exorbitant starting price of £ 3,000,000 (up from £2.5 in January 2017) – the hefty price tag said to have been selected to emphasize the Hall’s present state of affairs regarding the scandal.

Located on the same tier as the Queen’s Box – acquired by Queen Victoria at the Hall’s opening in 1871, the luxurious enclave will provide the lucky buyer with exceptional views of the main stage and auditorium. Should the Queen or other members of the Royal family pay a visit to the theatre during one of RAH’s 400 annual events, the lucky dozen will be within an earshot of the Monarch – her box sits just two away.

The purchase will not come without responsibility, however, the future owner will automatically be inducted into the Corporation of the Halls of Arts and Science – he or she will be expected to use discretion in acquiring seats to help support the site in addition to electing the council and president, and ensuring the venue has adequate and fair funding to survive.

Permanent seats at the RAH were initially sold in 1867 to raise funds to build the hall - the duties that accompanied them have likewise been ever-standing. The seats are considered private property.

As of Proms season 2018, the Grand Tier listing remains unfulfilled.

Watch below as Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connelly sings a rousing performance of Thomas Arne's "Rule Britania" during the 2009 Proms at Royal Albert Hall - an anthem favored by the Queen Victoria, who is said to have hummed the tune whilst in the bath:

Did You Know?

Queen Victoria laying the foundation stone at Royal Albert Hall in London
On 20th day of May, 1867, Queen Victoria would have the honor of laying down the foundation stone on a site that would grow to become that most prestigious of concert halls, the Royal Albert Hall.

Victoria, who had ceremoniously arrived to much fanfare (before a crowd of some 7,000 monarchists who had gathered under a massive marquee especially erected for her arrival), is said to have employed a golden trowel to lay the stone. As a thoughtful gesture to future generations, Her Royal Highness slipped underneath the stone a ‘time capsule’ made of glass, in which she had inserted a private inscription, and, for good measure, a quantity of both gold and silver coins.

The ceremony itself was a much fêted event for both monarch and civilian: just prior to laying the stone, Queen Victoria had been greeted not only by a very vocal and adoring crowd, but also a 21-gun salute at Hyde Park (which, along with the trumpet fanfare - performed by
HM guards - that immediately followed, echoed through the crowd). A performance of her husband’s (Prince Albert) composition “Invocation to Harmony,” led by the esteemed conductor and Italian émigré Michael Costa and a Benediction delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury were also performed for the monarch at the ceremony.

Addressing the crowd, the much admired Queen of Great Britain and the Commonwealth proclaimed the site
“Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences:”

“It is my wish that this Hall should bear his name to whom it will have owed its existence and be called The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences”
-Queen Victoria, South Kensington, London, May 20, 1867

Learn more about the laying of the stone and Victoria (and find out where in the venue you can take a peek at the stone itself) at

Victoria is also Canada's Mother of Confederation - having been the first Monarch to occupy the British throne during the nation's 'birthday' (which is today, July 1). Presently, the North American country is a member of the Commonwealth. Learn more about Canada and it's longstanding lineage with the British monarchy here on Unraveling Musical Myths.

Bon fête, Canada!


- Rose.