His­tory just keeps on re­peat­ing it­self…

BBC Music Magazine - - The Full Score -

Hot on the heels of ac­cept­ing the post of mu­sic di­rec­tor of the Orchestre na­tional de Lyon, Niko­laj Znaider has writ­ten an open let­ter to ex­plain an­other de­ci­sion that he has re­cently taken: namely, re­vert­ing to his orig­i­nal sur­name, Szep­sz­naider. Though us­ing just ‘Znaider’ once seemed a sen­si­ble move, the vi­o­lin­ist and con­duc­tor says that he now wants his name to re­flect both sides of his fam­ily. He is, of course, by no means the first clas­si­cal mu­si­cian to have changed their names…

Many per­form­ers over the years have adopted a mem­o­rable name to make them­selves more mar­ketable. These in­clude the so­pra­nos He­len Porter Mitchell, who used an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of the Aus­tralian city of her birth to be­come Nel­lie Melba, and Belle Sil­ver­man, whose adopted name of Bev­erly Sills brought a touch of Hol­ly­wood. Among com­posers, Philip He­sel­tine used the name Peter War­lock when writ­ing mu­sic, while Re­becca Clarke, scep­ti­cal over how women com­posers might be per­ceived, wrote her Mor­pheus for vi­o­lin and pi­ano un­der the pseu­do­nym of An­thony Trent – as if to prove her point, it was re­viewed more favourably than mu­sic bear­ing her real name. In re­cent years, vi­o­lin­ists have shown a par­tic­u­lar propen­sity to re-ti­tle. Mi­dori, for in­stance, has pre­vi­ously per­formed as both Mi­dori Goto and Mi Dori, Nigel Kennedy tem­po­rar­ily de­cided to drop the ‘Nigel’, and, in 2012, Hahn-bin an­nounced that, from now on, he was to be known as the grander-sound­ing Amadeus Leopold – it made lit­tle dif­fer­ence to his disc sales, alas.

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