Chopin No Yume

And the number one XBox 360 video game in Japan?

Guitar Hero II? Madden NFL 08? Guess again.

It’s “Eternal Sonata,” which the creators describe as a role playing game “set in the fever dreams of Frederic Chopin. On his deathbed, Chopin dreams of a world in terrible danger. Fortunately, ten heroes are willing to band together and battle the evil Count Waltz. Each character comes with their own musical influences and unique attacks.”

In Japan it’s called Chopin No Yume. And yes, this video game has a Chopin soundtrack (btw, that’s Russian pianist Stanislav Bunin performing the Chopin):

Bellini, with a bullet

When I saw this stunning television spot, I couldn’t figure out why they used the aria “Casta Diva” from Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma. Then I went back to the libretto, and it suddenly made sense:

spargi in terra quella pace

che regnar tu fai nel ciel…

Scatter on the earth the peace

Thou make reign in the sky…

Fair Update

Another musical tidbit from the fair: one of John Philip Sousa’s marches, the “Minnesota March,” had its world premiere at the fair, 80 years ago almost to the day.

To hear the march, tune in tomorrow (Saturday) for Alison Young’s show from the fairgrounds, starting at 10 am. You can also read about Sousa and his march, complete with behind-the-scenes tiffs, here.

Music on a stick

Head over to The Minnesota State Fair tomorrow morning, either in person, on the radio or via the internet. This will be my first experience at The Great Minnesota Get-Together so I’d love to have you along! My guests are: Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence singing American folk-songs; Joe Dowling, Artistic Director of the Guthrie talking about his latest directorial project; three Twin Cities trumpeters who will put a little pizzazz in the morning with their bugle calls; Linda Chatterton floating us into another world with a Haiku-based piece by Edie Hill; and one of next season’s stars of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Inside the Classics concerts, violinist Peter McGuire giving us the low-down on a concerto that was deemed “unplayable” back in the day, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Hope to see you there!

Orchestra $alaries

Interesting list from a Detroit Free Press article about Detroit Symphony contract negotiations.

I’d not seen this tally in quite a while; would be interesting also to see a version weighted by salary vs. cost-of-living in the various cities. Keep in mind as well that almost no one makes minumum salary, except perhaps first-year section string players. Principal players can easily earn 100% more, and many players also earn additional income from teaching and other gigs.

U.S. symphony orchestra pay, 2006-07

Annual Minimum Salary

1. Boston Symphony $118,040

2. Los Angeles Philharmonic $117,520

3. Philadelphia Orchestra $114,400

4. San Francisco Symphony $114,400

5. New York Philharmonic $112,060

6. Chicago Symphony $111,670

7. Cleveland Orchestra $107,640

8. National Symphony Orchestra $103,792

9. Pittsburgh Symphony $99,501

10. Detroit Symphony $98,800

11. Minnesota Orchestra $90,168

12. Cincinnati Symphony $88,260

13. Dallas Symphony $77,376

14. St. Louis Symphony $75,000

15. Atlanta Symphony $74,100

Source: International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians

Coco and Igor

Whenever classical music is used in the movies, it gets introduced to a whole new audience. A lot of people got to know Mozart through “Amadeus,” Barber’s Adagio for Strings through “Platoon,” and Loony Tunes deserves a whole entry of its own.

And even years after its release, we still get calls here asking about “that piece they used in ‘Days of Heaven.'” (It’s the “Aquarium” section from St.-Saens’s “Carnival of the Animals.”)

The next composer due for this treatment is Stravinsky. Here’s the news from filmdom about “Coco and Igor,” about the alleged liaison between Stravinsky and fashion designer Coco Chanel. Who can doubt that next spring, cineastes will be crowding the music stores looking for “The Rite of Spring,” “Apollo,” and the Symphonies of Wind Instruments?

Mozart's Manuscript

A priceless manuscript at a Polish library shows how Mozart wrote his Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major – in neat, small notes with no corrections.

More about that manuscript and the dispute surrounding it, in this article from the Shanghai Daily.

The Daily is absolutely correct that music manuscripts, visually, vary widely from composer to composer, which you can confirm by browsing the Juilliard Manuscript Archive, with selections from a scrawling Puccini to a methodical Stravinsky.

American Idol, classical style

Have you ever watched the Grammy’s or checked out the Billboard charts and thought what was the committee thinking when they picked so-and-so? Well now’s your chance to BE the committee (and let other people wonder what you were thinking!) Gramophone Magazine has decided to dispense with its normal process of choosing the artist of the year for 2007 and let us, the public, do the choosing.

Some of this year’s contenders include Welsh baritone-with-dulcet-tones, Bryn Terfel; conductor/pianist/jet-setter Daniel Barenboim; one of the “Strad Pack” German violinist Julia Fischer; the fearless American mezzo, Joyce DiDonato and the unbelievably-overworked conductor, Valery Gergiev.

Here’s the place to cast your entry: The Classic FM Gramophone Awards 2007 – Artist of the year