San Carlo of the Symphony. Il Maestro Carlo Maria Giulini, orchestra conductor who passed away Tuesday at 91 "had an almost uncanny ability to transform the sound of an orchestra, any orchestra, into a dark and intense glow, which became his trademark over the years". "We have lost one of the greatest musicians of our time," says Esa-Pekka Salonen (.pdf), music director of the LA Philharmonic. Giulini has been called "the last humanist", a gentle man beloved by his orchestras, so humble in his approach to music that, always feeling the necessity to "fathom" each new work, it wasn't until the 1960s that he finally felt ready to conduct Bach, or the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven. This from a man who, at the beginning of his career (as a viola player) had played under Richard Strauss. "I had the great privilege to be a member of an orchestra," Giulini said in 1982. "I still belong to the body of the orchestra. When I hear the phrase, 'The orchestra is an instrument,' I get mad. It's a group of human beings who play instruments." More inside.
Son of a Bluesman The legend was that if you touched Robert Johnson you could feel the talent running through him, like heat, put there by the devil on a dark Delta crossroad in exchange for his soul. It is why Claud Johnson's grandparents would not let him out of the house that day in 1937 when Robert Johnson, his father, strolled into the yard. "They told my daddy they didn't want no part of him. They said he was working for the devil. I stood in the door, and he stood on the ground, and that is as close as I ever got to him. He wandered off, and I never saw him again." Today, in the working-class neighborhood where he raised his children, Claud Johnson, a rich man, lives in a grand house on 47 acres of property. (After Claud won his court battle in 1998 and was recognized as the son of the blues legend, his lawyer handed him a six-figure cashier's check and begged him to quit hauling gravel. Claud kept hauling gravel for five months. "After 29 years, it just gets in your blood"). His victory stands out in the annals of Mississippi probate law. It took 10 years, two trips to the State Supreme Court and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not to mention, most of the first two or three generations of blues musicians died without securing rights to their composition. Explains Thomas Freeland, a Mississippi attorney and blues historian: when the San Francisco-based band the Grateful Dead recorded songs by the North Carolina blues musician Elizabeth Cotten, Freeland said, "the story is, [she] bought a dishwasher with the royalties." (more inside)