Picasso’s Battle With France Over Citizenship

Picasso tried to get citizenship in France, but authorities branded him an anarchist and held up his application. “Picasso never received a formal rejection of his application but remained in France until his death in 1973. He never mentioned his naturalisation attempt to anyone. ‘I think he was profoundly humiliated by the fact that France didn’t say yes,’ said Charlot. ‘He never applied again.”

16-Year-Old Violinist Is BBC’s Young Musician of the Year

Sixteen-year-old violinist Nicola Benedetti has won the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year award. “She triumphed over four other finalists at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and became the first Scot to win the competition. Nicola began playing the violin at the age of four and left school aged 10 to attend the Yehudi Menuhin School for gifted musicians in Surrey.”

Pianists With Personality

For a long time now, many pianists have suffered from a bewildering lack of personality. Oh, the notes were (usually) all there, and the technical prowess could astonish. But too many pianists sounded the same. Tim Mangan notes that four young pianists are distinguishing themselves with their individualistic playing.

Levine: I’ll Keep Conducting

Conductor James Levine has responded to a story that said he was suffering from ailments that increasingly make him an ineffective leader. He has signed an extension to his Metropolitan Opera contract to 2011, and will take over as music director of the Boston Symphony as scheduled. “I wouldn’t have agreed to it if I didn’t think I would be able to fulfill the contract. As I get older, no doubt I’ll keep changing in some ways, and I hope it’ll mean I keep doing better work. The perception of most of the people I know has been that even when I absorb or deal with something like my back or my tremor, the work gets better. And I think that’s true.”

Oklahoma: Rebuilding A Blown-Up Building

How do you rebuild the Oklahoma Federal Building that was blown up? It’s not easy to make a statement. “With elegant curving walls of glass and brute masses of concrete, the three-story, $42.7 million structure is both anti-fortress and fortress, a self-consciouslessly masculine building that doesn’t shy from a show of strength — and sometimes goes too far.”

Zinman: From Fame And Back

Conductor David Zinman has long been the world’s greatest unknown conductor, the guy whose commitment to contemporary American composers and less-than-tactful way of getting things done kept him a guest rather than a resident with the world’s top orchestras. A man of principles, Zinman relinquished his conductor laureate title at Baltimore because current management hadn’t sustained modern American music programming. Then, almost stealthily, the budget-priced Zinman/Zurich recording of Beethoven symphonies on the Arte Nova label – acclaimed for the crisp manner of period performance, but with the “oomph” of conventional instruments – infiltrated the music world with sales that now top 1 million discs. Now, the unknown conductor and the provincial orchestra are thinking about recording all the Brahms and Mahler symphonies.”

Oboist With An Involuntary Reflex

Alex Klein is one of the world’s best oboists. He’s principal of the Chicago Symphony. But three years ago he was diagnosed with “focal dystonia, a neurological disorder in which the brain, for unknown reasons, sends messages through the nerves that cause muscles in a certain part of the body to contract and curl up involuntarily. The disease is usually painless, and the contractions occur only during specific tasks. For instance, the third and fourth fingers on Klein’s left hand might fail him in a Mozart concerto, but they work perfectly when he ties his shoes or uses his left hand for other fine motor tasks.” After going through 30 doctors, Klein is resigning from the CSO.