[:en]Brenda strikes back[:]

[:en]”Don’t waste your time on obscure contemporary composers, John,” she said.[:]

[:en]Don’t listen to those who tell you not to read YouTube comments:

Hello Graham…, You have got the wrong end of the stick as did the biographer who never knew John at all. On the contrary I did everything in my power to stop John from learning all those pieces by obscure contemporary composers but it was no use. He ruined his career and his life by doing that – there lies the tragedy. Please do not blame me for a crime I did not commit.


I hope she doesn’t find me too.

The 1976 Moscow video’s unembeddable, but you probably know by now how to click on a link. And here he is in Moscow 14 years previously, in 1962 at the Tchaikovsky Competition, with three of the same pieces:

For some reason, probably related to Russian novels, I am glad that he and they seemed so fond of each other. And what nice audiences too, before the popular smartphonopticon turned applause into competitive narcissism.

Extraordinary stuff, and I do fear that even the cleverest street organ in the world will never layer and shimmer as he does in Ondine.

(I suppose Ravel is no longer an obscure contemporary composer.)[:]

[:en]So where does Silvio Berlusconi stand on organ-grinders?[:]

[:en]Unfortunately Alan Friedman’s excellent authorised bio, My Way, leaves us none the wiser.[:]

[:en]Older readers may recall the PDL’s successful “showgirl” candidate list for the 2009 European Parliament elections. Gabriele Cappelletti wrote that

Berlusconi is not the cause, but rather the consequence, the inevitable and fatal embodiment of the Italian Way (sistema-italia) matured from the Renaissance until today… If Italians lost their heads over organ-grinders 1 instead of beautiful women, Berlusconi would surely have found a way to nominate an entire band.

Friedman’s book is, as he says, an intimate portrait. However, though it throws more light on Berlusconi’s early career as a musical entertainer, it fails to answer this most burning of questions for non-Italians.

Talking the other with someone else about Italian organ-grinders in Greater Russia, I learned about Berlusconi’s efforts, recently rewarded in controversial circumstances, to get his friend Putin to recognise the suffering of Russian Italians under Stalin and have them added to the official list of persecuted minorities. Did this gesture include, he wondered, a nod to the people who brought civilised street music and puppet theatre to Petersburg, Moscow and Odessa in the early nineteenth century?

Or is my blogging this here simply a sign of incipient echolalia, barrel organ syndrome?[:]


  1. In fairness, suonatori d’organetto may also be accordionists, and that’s probably the most instinctive translation for most Italians.