Norman Lebrecht

How a City lawyer conquered the hardest piano work ever written

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Charles-Valentin Alkan played the piano faster than Liszt and louder than Chopin. The dying Pole left instructions that only Alkan…

Do Jews think differently?

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Sixteen years into a stop-go production saga, I got a call from the director of The Song of Names with…

‘I just kept getting turned down and turned down’: Catherine Foster

From the NHS to Bayreuth: Norman Lebrecht talks to midwife-turned-opera singer Catherine Foster

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Every summer for the past six years, Bayreuth has risen to its feet to acclaim an English Brünnhilde. Catherine Foster,…

The fall of Daniel Barenboim

23 March 2019 9:00 am

A few years ago, I hooked up with a BBC team in Berlin to record a programme with Daniel Barenboim.…

The Gyorgy and Marta show: the nonagenarian couple have been an unlikely hit on YouTube

One of the last living avant-gardists speaks – Gyorgy Kurtag on his new Beckett opera

10 November 2018 9:00 am

Arriving in Budapest, I receive a summons I cannot refuse. Gyorgy Kurtag wants to see me. Famously elusive, the last…

Wilhelm Furtwängler shaking hands with Hitler after a concert in 1939. Photo: Ullstein Bild/ Getty Images

The truth about Wilhelm Furtwängler

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The morning after the first night of Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides in May 1995, I received a call from Otto…

Pianist Clifford Curzon, composer Sir Arthur Bliss and musicologist Hans Keller at the very first Leeds International Piano Contest. Photo: Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

You vote for my pupil, I’ll vote for yours – the truth about music competitions

23 June 2018 9:00 am

A young Korean, 22 years old, won the Dublin International Piano Competition last month. Nothing unusual about that. Koreans and…

Teetering chords and incestous sex: Francesca da Rimini at La Scala

How Riccardo Chailly brought joy – and Italian opera – back to La Scala

5 May 2018 9:00 am

As the curtain opens on the second act of Don Pasquale, I hear a rustle of discomfort. Donizetti’s opera has…

Jonas Kaufmann’s presence or absence can make or break a season

‘I was really, really scared’: Jonas Kaufmann opens up about his #MeToo moment

17 February 2018 9:00 am

‘Hi, it’s Jonas.’ When the great tenor rings from Vienna, I ask if there are any topics he wants me…

Conduct unbecoming: clockwise from top left, Leonard Bernstein, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Charles Dutoit and James Levine

The sex lives of conductors

20 January 2018 9:00 am

I once knew a great conductor who claimed that he never boarded a plane to a new orchestra without a…

The Chinese classical-music revolution up close

25 November 2017 9:00 am

On a bullet train out of Shanghai, a nuclear family catches my eye. The father, weather-beaten and wearing an ill-fitting…

Rattle’s hall

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Even in a Trump world where reality is what you say it is, the London Symphony Orchestra’s announcement of a…

Director’s cut

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Much fuss has been made of the title given to Sir Simon Rattle on arrival at the London Symphony Orchestra.…

Who is Kirill Petrenko?

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Two summers ago, the BBC were offered a Proms visit by the Bavarian State Orchestra with its music director, Kirill…

Who is Kirill Petrenko?

10 August 2017 1:00 pm

Two summers ago, the BBC were offered a Proms visit by the Bavarian State Orchestra with its music director, Kirill…

Musical maestros and football managers have more in common than you think

12 December 2015 9:00 am

You don’t have to be a follower of Liverpool Football Club, or football at all, to spot the difference. Two…

The most powerful man in classical music

27 June 2015 9:00 am

When Margaret Thatcher imagined perfect power, she thought of the orchestral conductor. ‘She envied me,’ said Herbert von Karajan, ‘that…

What really happened in the Berlin Philharmonic election

23 May 2015 9:00 am

The morning after the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra failed to elect a music director, I took a call from Bild-Zeitung, Berlin’s…

The Nazi origins of the Vienna Phil’s New Year’s Day concert

13 December 2014 9:00 am

It may be the last water-cooler moment in world television. On the first morning of the year, at 11.15 Central…