Archive for politics

Brown Bread: Miriam Karlin

Posted in Books, Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

“The sequinned grande dame of British theatre, a Jewish legend and Equity terrorist.” Anthony Sher

“I can’t imagine being anything but left-wing. I was brought up in a home where justice was the most important quality. I’m part of a race that has survived 2,000 years of persecution. I think, if I’d had any ambition at all, I would like to have been the first female British Prime Minister. I would have been a rather lovely English Golda Meir, a benevolent dictator. I am, shall I say, a Utopian socialist. I have an idealistic dream of a wondrous socialist world where there will be a real brotherhood of man. I know it will never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to have such belief, and it keeps me going.” Miriam Karlin

Miriam Karlin, who has died of cancer aged 85, was a pillar of the British acting establishment who was also a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad. During sixty workaholic years, she acted in every area of the performing arts except ballet and the circus, and is fondly remembered as the truculent, whistle-blowing shop steward Paddy (complete with her catchphrase “Everybody out!”) in the classic TV sitcom The Rag Trade. Parallel to her life as a performer, she was a dedicated political activist, spurred on by her lifelong socialist beliefs and an unerring sense of justice, promoting broadly leftwing causes as a member of the council of the actors’ union Equity, and as a campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Soviet Jewry.

She had been unwell for a number of years, suffering from peripheral neuropathy for a decade.

Here is the last page of her 2007 autobiography Some Sort of a Life, based on conversations with writer and director Jan Sargent:

I don’t think I’ll last much longer. I have to say that the contemplation of my own death only frightens me if I think it’s going to be painful and if I can’t control how I go. The idea of not being here only frightens me in terms of my vanity: I hope that I die looking good with my teeth in and that people won’t say awful things about me. I hope that the obituaries will be nice. Perhaps what I am writing now is my own; that’s what it feels like, some sort of a life story.

I don’t want another 20 years in pain; I can’t contemplate very much more of it. I want to say that’s enough, thank you, been there, done that, got all the T-shirts, let’s now finish it in a dignified fashion. I don’t want to die throwing up everywhere; I would just like to die nice and quietly. If only I hadn’t given that damn “Do It Yourself” book to somebody who never gave it back …

I love conversations and talking on the phone, but it’s probably because I have always lived alone. I’d miss gossip, not being here. I’d miss going to wonderful concerts listening to beautiful music. I don’t believe any longer in heaven; I don’t think I am going to hear beautiful harps in a mystical place. I think this is all there is. I’d miss music and my friends. I’ve got some wonderful friends that I’ve had for a very long time, and of course I’d miss my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece Vivien. I can’t really say “I’d miss” because I’d be dead, so I wouldn’t know how to; but if one could, those are the things I’d miss.

R.I.P. Miriam Karlin (Miriam Samuels) 1925-2011

Maurizio Pollini

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Pianist Maurizio Pollini interviewed by Nicholas Wroe in the Grauniad:

His strong belief in the social benefits of art remains undimmed. “I think great art has entirely progressive aspects within it, elements that are somehow outside the detail of the text or even the political opinions of the person who made it. Art itself, if it is really great, has a progressive aspect that is needed by a society, even if it seems absolutely useless in strictly practical terms. In a way art is a little like the dreams of a society. They seem to contribute little, but sleeping and dreaming are vitally important in that a human couldn’t live without them, in the same way a society cannot live without art.”

Pollini’s restrained on-stage demeanour and dapperly conservative off-stage appearance indeed promote a strong sense of detached accomplishment. But he is by no means a “musical adding machine”, as he was once described. His distinguished silver hair, aquiline profile and line in smart grey suits may have prompted the observation that he resembled a typical Fiat factory executive, but in reality his political history reveals him as closer to a typical Fiat factory union organiser. He continually fishes in the pockets of those expensive jackets for an apparently never-ending supply of cigarettes, smoking no more than a quarter before stubbing one out and lighting another.

The 2010 Brown Bread List

Posted in Books, Culture, Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Here is a list of some of the significant figures who departed in the last year.

Kate McGarrigle, singer and songwriter, born February 6, 1946; died January 18 2010

Jean Merilyn Simmons, actor, born 31 January 1929; died 22 January 2010

Lee Alexander McQueen, fashion designer, born 17 March 1969; died 11 ­February 2010

Michael Mackintosh Foot, politician, journalist and author, born 23 July 1913; died 3 March 2010

Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren, impresario, born 22 January 1946; died 8 April 2010

Alan Sillitoe, author, born 4 March 1928; died 25 April 2010

Lynn Rachel Redgrave, actor, born 8 March 1943; died 2 May 2010

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, singer and actor, born 30 June 1917; died 9 May 2010

Dennis Lee Hopper, actor, photographer and painter, born 17 May 1936; died 29 May 2010

Beryl Bainbridge, writer, born 21 November 1934; died 2 July 2010

Alexander Gordon Higgins, snooker player, born 18 March 1949; found dead 24 July 2010

Edwin George Morgan, poet, born 27 April 1920; died 19 August 2010

Tony Curtis (Bernard Schwartz), actor, born 3 June 1925; died 29 September 2010

Joan Sutherland, opera singer, born 7 November 1926; died 10 October 2010

Agostino “Dino” De Laurentiis, film producer, born 8 August 1919; died 11 November 2010

Ingrid Pitt (Ingoushka Petrov), actor, born 21 November 1937; died 23 November 2010

Leslie William Nielsen, actor, born 11 February 1926; died 28 November 2010

Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko, composer, pianist and teacher, born 23 March 1939; died 9 December 2010

Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart), musician and artist, born 15 January 1941; died 17 December 2010

Roberto Alfonso Farrell, singer and dancer, born 6 October 1949; died 30 December 2010

“World’s finest opera house” re-opens

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

The re-opening of one of the world’s leading opera houses helped to kick off Argentina’s 200th birthday celebrations on Monday, as the curtain was raised at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires for the first time in almost four years.

An audience of 2,700, including the presidents of Uruguay Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil, was treated to an elaborate programme of music and dance while images from the venue’s history were projected on the walls.

The opera house, built in 1908 from a design inspired by La Scala in Milan, is reputed to have the world’s finest acoustics, and has played host to almost every great performer of the past century, from Pavarotti and Maria Callas to Nijinsky and Nureyev. It temporarily closed in 2006 for a £60m facelift which ran several years and many millions over budget.

Much like the restoration, the venue’s reopening didn’t run entirely smoothly. Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner, stayed away from the performance to prevent it being overshadowed by political posturing, after the capital’s mayor, Mauricio Macri, announced that he would feel uncomfortable having to sit near her husband, the former president Nestor Kirchner. Mr Macri is planning to stand against Mrs Kirchner for the presidency next year.

Several other government representatives boycotted the evening in support of the Kirchners. They forfeited the chance to join the country’s élite beneath the ornate venue’s French stained-glass windows and pink Italian marble staircases, restored by more than 1,000 craftsmen.

Protesters disrupt Jerusalem Quartet Wigmore Hall broadcast

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

BBC Radio 3 pulled the plug on the broadcast of this recital, announcing a “disruption” at the Wigmore Hall. Listeners were startled to hear singing interrupt Mozart’s String Quartet in D major K. 575. I think the broadcast should have continued, but of course it is typical of the craven cowardice of the BBC that it did not.

Within an hour, the incident was reported in the Jewish Chronicle (and nowhere else):

A lunchtime performance by the Jerusalem Quartet at London’s Wigmore Hall, being broadcast live on BBC Radio Three, was taken off air partway through the concert on Monday afternoon after protesters disrupted the event. But the musicians played on and completed the Mozart and Ravel concert programme.

The clash came after four or five pro-Palestinian protesters bought tickets for the concert, and, about five to ten minutes into the music, began shouting and heckling the Israeli musicians. They shouted: “The Quartet, who are cultural ambassadors for the state of Israel, are promoting the interests of Israel and all its policies against the Palestinians, to the British public.”

The demonstrators were taken away by Wigmore Hall security officers and a decision was taken by the concert hall management to take the broadcast off-air “in order to deny these people publicity.”

A clearly shaken John Gilhooly, director of the Wigmore Hall, told the JC: “It is such a pity that music has become politicised.”

John Gilhooly should sit down and have a chat with the members of the Jerusalem Quartet about politicising music.

No doubt the protestors are feeling very pleased with themselves (they organised the demonstration through Twitter), but beyond making John Gilhooly sweat and irritating a couple of hundred people who couldn’t care less about the plight of Palestinians, what did they achieve?

Absolutely … nothing.

Related:

7 ways to stop musical “ambassadors” for Israel

Classical Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

Brown Bread: Ted Kennedy

Posted in News, Obituaries with tags , , on August 28, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

1985-Edward-Kennedy-walks-010

R.I.P. Edward Kennedy 1932-2009



Arts

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