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Germany

Staying Composed: Classical Music In The Time of COVID-19

In classical music capitals like Vienna, Salzburg and Berlin, and around the world, artists find themselves in precarious positions with COVID-19 shutdowns. But maybe there's a sweeter tune tomorrow?

The abandoned orchestra pit in the opera house of the Theater Magdeburg.
The abandoned orchestra pit in the opera house of the Theater Magdeburg.
Manuel Brug

BERLIN — This year, Lent truly is a time when people are going without. The weeks leading up to Easter would usually be one of the busiest times of the year for singers, musicians and orchestras. A cantata here, an oratorio there. The holiday is a lucrative business for the music industry. Now, however, instead of arias being sung in cathedrals, we are hearing laments. Instead of redemption, we are surrounded by a plague. Coronavirus is having a devastating effect on a peak musical season that was already struggling to survive.

A flourishing music industry has grown around the six weeks of Lent. The hotel and travel industries also fill their piggy banks at this time of year. The air is filled with the sound of choral singing in the air and the ringing of cash registers.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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