23rd April: Heather Harper obituary, Chicago Symphony Orchestra strike continues and Martin Böttcher has died aged 91

Tuesday 23rd April 2019

Soprano Heather Harper has died aged 88

The soprano Heather Harper, who has died aged 88, was one of the best loved and most respected singers of her generation. She graced the concert and opera stages of the world in roles that ranged from Ellen Orford in Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes – where her sympathy for the character drew a near-definitive portrayal – to the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier.

She came to international prominence in 1962 when she stepped in at 10 days’ notice to replace Galina Vishnevskaya, who had been detained by the Soviet authorities, in the first performance of Britten’s War Requiem alongside Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Peter Pears in Coventry Cathedral. Despite her confident performance, which contributed significantly to the work’s immediate success, it was nearly 30 years before she had the opportunity to record it, under Richard Hickox.

She was frequently invited to the Aldeburgh festival, singing and recording several roles in Britten operas – she created Mrs Coyle in the television opera Owen Wingrave (1970) and was acclaimed for her Governess in The Turn of the Screw for the English Opera Group (1972).

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians continue strike as negotiations hit impasse

Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are entering the seventh week of their strike, two weeks after rejecting management’s last offer. Concerts have been cancelled through the end of April, the main sticking points being salary increases and a proposed switch from a traditional pension to a defined-contribution retirement plan.

The strike, which began on 11 March, followed a year of negotiations. The orchestra’s management and board warned that the growing expense of the current pension plan, which guarantees a set benefit for life after retirement, could not be sustained.

In a statement at the time they said that the orchestra contributed $3.8 million into the musicians’ pension fund this year — a rise from $803,000 two years ago due to new federal requirements — and that those annual contributions were projected to continue to rise sharply. Added to this, ticket sales continue to cover a diminishing percentage of the expense of putting on classical music performances, leading orchestras to try to cut costs.

But the CSO musicians – who are among the best-paid in the industry – have challenged the management’s insistence on not being able to afford their pensions, while pointing out in a factsheet that a reported one-third of the Orchestra’s revenues went to the musicians’ pay, compared to the ‘rest going to adminstrative staff, marketing and building expenses.’

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Im Alter von 91 Jahren „Winnetou“-Komponist Martin Böttcher gestorben

Der Filmkomponist Martin Böttcher, dessen Musik zahlreiche Winnetou-Filme begleitete, ist tot. Er starb in der Nacht zum Samstag im Alter von 91 Jahren, wie seine Tochter Betsy Schlüter am Montag der Deutschen Presse-Agentur bestätigte. Zunächst hatte der Bayerische Rundfunk über den Tod des zuletzt in der Nähe von Rendsburg (Schleswig-Holstein) lebenden Künstlers berichtet.

Böttcher untermalte zehn Karl-May-Streifen für die Leinwand – er wurde so zu einem der erfolgreichsten Filmkomponisten Deutschlands. 1962 führte seine „Old Shatterhand“-Melodie 17 Wochen lang die deutschen Charts an.

Sein Debüt als Komponist bei einer Spielfilm-Produktion gab Böttcher 1955 in „Der Hauptmann und sein Held“. Schon der zweite Film wurde ein großer Erfolg: „Die Halbstarken“ (1956) mit Horst Buchholz. Danach vertonte Böttcher immer neue Geschichten zunächst für das Kino, später vor allem für das Fernsehen. „13 kleine Esel“ mit Hans Albers und Heinz Rühmanns „Pater Brown“-Filme gehörten ebenso dazu wie Edgar-Wallace-Filme und zuletzt „Pfarrer Braun“ (bis 2013).

Böttcher, der seit einem Sturz als Kind auf einem Ohr nichts mehr hörte, hatte sich während des Zweiten Weltkriegs in der Gefangenschaft das Gitarrenspiel selbst beigebracht. Nach dem Krieg führte ihn der Weg nach Hamburg, wo er im Tanz- und Unterhaltungsorchester des Nordwestdeutschen Rundfunks anfing. 1954 entschied sich Böttcher, der eigentlich Pilot war, endgültig fürs Komponieren.

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Film composer Martin Böttcher, whose music accompanied numerous Winnetou films, has died. He passed away on Saturday night at the age of 91, as his daughter Betsy Schlüter confirmed on Monday. First, the Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on the death of the artist living near Rendsburg (Schleswig-Holstein).

Böttcher accompanied ten Karl May strips for the screen – thus becoming one of the most successful film composers in Germany. In 1962, his “Old Shatterhand” melody topped the German charts for 17 weeks.

His debut as a composer in a feature film production gave Böttcher 1955 in “The Captain and his hero”. Already the second film became a great success: “Die Halbstarken” (1956) with Horst Buchholz. After that, Böttcher set new stories for the cinema, later for the television.

Böttcher, who has been deaf in one ear since falling as a child, had taught himself to play the guitar in captivity during the Second World War. After the war he arrived in Hamburg, where he began performing in the dance and entertainment orchestra of the Northwest German Radio. In 1954, Böttcher, who was actually a pilot, finally decided to compose.

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