The best blogs serve as a memoir in the moment, collating memories, musings, and nuggets of wisdom as well as linking to interesting and overlooked items on the web. Several weeks ago I stumbled upon "Of Music and Men," a blog by Ilkka Talvi, former concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. Apart from some tasty tattle, Talvi offers insightful comments on performance and interesting insider information.

Talvi bemoans the acoustics of Benaroya Hall: "As we got our first audience in, a strange phenomenon was discovered: The hall had a lot presence but in [the] opposite direction. Any sound from the audience could be heard onstage in great clarity, may that be a dropped program or people coughing." And the strange, icky events surrounding his and his wife's abrupt termination from the Symphony--a returned donation, a visit from the police, and hints of a restraining order--read more like the outline for a screenplay than actual occurrences.

Yet Talvi reserves the juiciest jabs for conductor/Music Director Gerard Schwarz: "Then there are the control freaks who manage to stifle every musician in the band. Micromanaging is often at its extreme. Players sense a hostility from the podium and respond in kind. Most don't even want to have eye contact with the conductor and write DLU (for Don't Look Up) in their parts in frustration."

Whether or not these comments ring true (some Symphony musicians tell me they love Schwarz while others express disdain), Talvi's pertinent comments on performance (especially the entry "Vibratissimo"), charmingly crotchety complaints about composers over-notating their scores, and instructive anecdotes make this blog a must-read. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Peruse Ilkka Talvi's blog at, though start at the beginning by clicking on the March 2005 link under "Archives."