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Olympic Musicians, Abandoned Pianos And Stravinsky's Scotch

Conductor Daniel Barenboim (lower right) was one of eight notables chosen to carry the Olympic flag at the July 27 opening ceremony of the London Games.
Paul Gilham
Getty Images
Conductor Daniel Barenboim (lower right) was one of eight notables chosen to carry the Olympic flag at the July 27 opening ceremony of the London Games.
  • Why yes, that was indeed Daniel Barenboim carrying the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies.
  • Filmmaker Danny Boyle's sprawling opening ceremonies pageant featured a cameo by the London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle and comedian Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, in the theme from Chariots of Fire.
  • O Canada: Earlier this week we told you about the strong presence of classically trained musicians on Team Canada. Strict rhythm helped earn the silver medal Thursday for the Women's Eight rowing team, which included musicians Janine Hanson, Natalie Mastracci and Lauren Wilkinson.
  • A hilarious addition to this week's Olympics mania is a tongue-in-cheek ranking of the aesthetics of various national anthems. The litmus test: "A good anthem has to do a lot of things. It has to inspire. It has to instill loyalty to the nation-state. It has to be singable. Most important, it has to capture a mysterious and complex feeling of being simultaneously (a) in church, (b) about to charge the enemy trenches, and (c) at a really great New Year's party." The gold medalist in the field of "compulsory tingliness": Montenegro.
  • Where do pianos go to die? Many of them wind up at a trash-transfer station in a town 20 miles north of Philadelphia. "The value of used pianos, especially uprights, has plummeted in recent years. So instead of selling them to a neighbor, donating them to a church or just passing them along to a relative, owners are far more likely to discard them, technicians, movers and dealers say. Piano movers are making regular runs to the dump, becoming adept at dismantling instruments, selling parts to artists, even burning them for firewood."
  • Remember the story of Petra Anderson, the young composer who was shot in Aurora? Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta explain to Anderson Cooper how the bullet went through her brain. The composer's boyfriend, a clarinetist, has been playing for her to help her use music in her recovery.
  • No, the Evgeny Nikitin Nazi-tattoos story is not yet over: The bass-baritone gave an interview to the New York Times mediated by the Metropolitan Opera, in Russian, with a Met employee translating — with a long explanation of the stages of a tattoo that apparently took him more than five years to finish. Meanwhile, says Met chief Peter Gelb: "If he was a Nazi and promoting Nazism, of course we'd have a problem. From what I understand, and I spoke to him, he's guilty of being naïve and ignorant. That doesn't disqualify you from singing on the stage of the Met."
  • One of the few remaining American classical music meccas is shutting its doors: Portland's famed, 35-year-old Classical Millennium, which at its peak carried 40,000 titles. Owner Terry Currier says that his other store, Music Millennium — which is also struggling — will still carry classical music.
  • Finally, finally, the Philadelphia Orchestra is officially out of bankruptcy.
  • Wow, I bet this young woman isn't ever going to go back to a concert hall: "On Sunday night I reviewed [only] half a Proms concert for theartsdesk ... a few members of the audience made it impossible for me to return. I was attending the concert with a university-age girl — her first visit to the Proms. A chronic asthmatic, she had coughed a little during the first half, but infrequently, and had stifled it to the very best of her ability ... When the interval arrived three middle-aged men accosted us in the foyer. My companion was told to get out, that she had no right to be there, and the parting shot from one — 'You dirty bitch' — was announced loud enough for everyone nearby to hear."
  • Marilyn Horne passes along the advice her close friend Stravinsky (!!!) gave her about enduring the critics: "'After one lousy review [from then Los Angeles Times critic and Stravinsky foe Albert Goldberg],' she recalls, 'Stravinsky pulled a silver flask filled with Scotch from his pocket and handed it to me. "Drink this immediately," he said. "This is the only way to survive."'"
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.