Music: Murder in the Cathedral

In Venice one night last week, 3,000 special guests—among them 130 music critics, dozens of big-name musicians, counts and Cabinet ministers—followed purple-robed Cardinal Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice, into the Byzantine basilica of St. Mark for one of the strangest events in its 1,000-year history. Outside, thousands more were gathered around loudspeakers to hear Igor Stravinsky's latest work. Many thought it was a sort of musical murder in the cathedral.

Under a governmental austerity ruling that cut back their budget 30%, officials of Venice's famed International Festival of Contemporary Music had canceled the prestigious operatic premiéres of earlier years (e.g., Stravinsky's own 1951...

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