The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: What should you do when a fistfight breaks out during a Brahms symphony? Ask conductor Riccardo Muti of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

March 16, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Well, who says a classical music concert has to be a staid and even boring affair?

You never know. Granted, it is decidedly NOT Altamont and the Rolling Stones and Hell’s Angels. But the incident could perhaps be compared to an impromptu and misplaced boxing match.

Just read what happened when a fistfight suddenly broke out during a performance of a Brahms symphony being conducted in the venerable Orchestra Hall by conductor Riccardo Muti (below, in a photo by AFT/Getty Images) of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra:

Those Chicago audiences can be rough and tough.

And after the brouhaha was all over, Muti had even more to say, some of his comments quite amusing and droll:


What would Johannes say?

What do you say?

Have you even witnessed or heard of as similar incident?

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music news: Get ready for another week of FREE concerts, lectures and rehearsals plus a TV appearance and the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Piano Quintet No. 2 with Christopher Taylor and the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet.

March 16, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

If you lived in New York City, say, you might pay $50 or more for a ticket to hear one or more of these events, concerts and performers at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall or the Juilliard School.

But next week in Madison, you can attend all of them or any of them FOR FREE at the Wisconsin Union Theater and the UW School of Music.

That is because the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet will be holding the third of its four week-long series of events in its centennial season. (The quartet, below in a photo by Rick Langer, consists of violinists David Perry and Suzanne Beia (second from left), violist Sally Chisholm and cellist Parry Karp.)

This Sunday at 10 a.m., the Pro Arte Quartet will appear on WISC-TV‘s weekly public affairs show “For the Rec0rd.” (Turn to Channel 3 and Cable Channel  603 for hi-def to view the local CBS affiliate.) They will perform live and do an interview with program host Neil Heinen.

Below are details of each event for the following week. But first, let’s recall some background:

The UW-Madison Pro Arte Quartet (below, in 1940) is celebrating its centennial. The quartet has been artists-in-residence at the UW since 1940, when they were exiled by World War II from their home in Belgium while on tour in the US. That pioneering academic affiliation subsequently became the business model for most other string quartets around the world and is still in use today.

The Pro Arte Quartet is the first string quartet EVER in history to reach 100 and has commissioned two new string quartets and two new piano quintets to premiere this season to mark its centennial. Each of the four concerts this season also has featured or will feature a free series of lectures of critics and composers.

In keeping with The Wisconsin Idea – which is also marking its centennial this year and which states that the university should serve the taxpayers who support it — ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Here is a Pro Arte Quartet round-up so you can plan ahead and fill in your datebook:

On Wednesday, March 21, 3:30-5 p.m. in Room 1351 of the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St., American composer WILLIAM BOLCOM (below) will discuss his recent music in a public composition master class as part of the Pro Arte Quartet’s Centennial.  ADMISSION IS FREE.

For background on the Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy winning-composer Wiliam Bolcom, who has also received the National Medal of the Arts, visit:

On Thursday, March 22, 9 a.m. to noon in Mills Hall, Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St., there is an OPEN REHEARSAL by the Pro Arte Quartet and UW PIANIST CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR (below) of the world premiere of the third commissioned work (Piano Quintet No. 2 by William Bolcom) for the quartet’s centennial concert on Saturday night, March 24, at 8 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater. FREE ADMISSION.

On Friday, March 23, 4-5:30 p.m. in the UW School of Music Colloquium in Room 2650 in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St., there will be a public lecture-discussion by The New York Times senior music critic ANTONY TOMMASINI (below) on “Academic Writing and Music Criticism: Where Research and Journalism Intersect.” FREE and NO TICKETS.

On Saturday, March 24, 3-5 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater is a lecture by New York Times senior music critic ANTHNY TOMMASINI on “Concert Music Today: A State of the Union Address,” followed by a question-and-answer session. FREE and NO TICKETS.

(Pre-concert cocktails and dinner with both composer William Bolcom and critic Anthony Tommasini will be in Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union. They are optional ($35) by calling (608) 265-ARTS or going to

Here is a link to an interview Lindsay Christians of The Capital Times and 77 Square did with Tommasini this past week:

On Saturday, March 24, at 8 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater is the third of the four concerts with WORLD PREMIERES of commissioned works: The Pro Arte Quartet and UW pianist Christopher Taylor will perform Anton Webern’s “Langsamer Satz” (Slow Movement, composed in 1905 and premiered in 1962); Darius Milhaud’s String Quartet No. 7, Op. 87 (composed in 1925, dedicated to and premiered by the Pro Arte Quartet back then plus Milhaud was William Bolcom’s teacher); Mozart’s aublime String Quintet in G Minor, K. 516 (1781), with Juilliard teacher and Juilliard String Quartet guest violist SAMUEL RHODES (below); and the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Piano Quintet No. 2 (2011). FREE and NO TICKETS.

(Pre-concert events, with introductions to composer William Bolcom and New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini and with questions from the audience, will be held from 7-7:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater. There will also be a free post-concert celebratory dessert reception at the Memorial Union’s Main Lounge immediately following the concert.) BOTH ARE FREE with NO TICKETS.

Here is the detailed UW news release for the Saturday concert and other events:

On Sunday, March 25, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III of the Chazen Museum of Art, 800 University Ave., “SUNDAY LIVE FROM THE CHAZEN” (below) will feature part of the Pro Arte Quartet’s Saturday night concert, including the second performance of William Bolcom’s Piano Quintet No. 2” with UW pianist Christopher Taylor and the Mozart String Quintet in G Minor with Samuel Rhodes. The event will be broadcast live over Wisconsin Public Radio (WERN 88.7 FM). Call 263-2246. Free.

For more information, visit Pro Arte web sites:

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