sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis, link in ITA

Allarme dei medici: spermatozoi in caduta libera – Repubblica.it

Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis

Hagai Levine

Niels Jørgensen

Anderson Martino-Andrade

Jaime Mendiola

Dan Weksler-Derri

Irina Mindlis

Rachel Pinotti

Shanna H. Swan

Hum Reprod Update 1-14.




25 July 2017

Article history



Reported declines in sperm counts remain controversial today and recent trends are unknown. A definitive meta-analysis is critical given the predictive value of sperm count for fertility, morbidity and mortality.


To provide a systematic review and meta-regression analysis of recent trends in sperm counts as measured by sperm concentration (SC) and total sperm count (TSC), and their modification by fertility and geographic group.


PubMed/MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched for English language studies of human SC published in 1981–2013. Following a predefined protocol 7518 abstracts were screened and 2510 full articles reporting primary data on SC were reviewed. A total of 244 estimates of SC and TSC from 185 studies of 42 935 men who provided semen samples in 1973–2011 were extracted for meta-regression analysis, as well as information on years of sample collection and covariates [fertility group (‘Unselected by fertility’ versus ‘Fertile’), geographic group (‘Western’, including North America, Europe Australia and New Zealand versus ‘Other’, including South America, Asia and Africa), age, ejaculation abstinence time, semen collection method, method of measuring SC and semen volume, exclusion criteria and indicators of completeness of covariate data]. The slopes of SC and TSC were estimated as functions of sample collection year using both simple linear regression and weighted meta-regression models and the latter were adjusted for pre-determined covariates and modification by fertility and geographic group. Assumptions were examined using multiple sensitivity analyses and nonlinear models.


SC declined significantly between 1973 and 2011 (slope in unadjusted simple regression models −0.70 million/ml/year; 95% CI: −0.72 to −0.69; P < 0.001; slope in adjusted meta-regression models = −0.64; −1.06 to −0.22; P = 0.003). The slopes in the meta-regression model were modified by fertility (P for interaction = 0.064) and geographic group (P for interaction = 0.027). There was a significant decline in SC between 1973 and 2011 among Unselected Western (−1.38; −2.02 to −0.74; P < 0.001) and among Fertile Western (−0.68; −1.31 to −0.05; P = 0.033), while no significant trends were seen among Unselected Other and Fertile Other. Among Unselected Western studies, the mean SC declined, on average, 1.4% per year with an overall decline of 52.4% between 1973 and 2011. Trends for TSC and SC were similar, with a steep decline among Unselected Western (−5.33 million/year, −7.56 to −3.11; P < 0.001), corresponding to an average decline in mean TSC of 1.6% per year and overall decline of 59.3%. Results changed minimally in multiple sensitivity analyses, and there was no statistical support for the use of a nonlinear model. In a model restricted to data post-1995, the slope both for SC and TSC among Unselected Western was similar to that for the entire period (−2.06 million/ml, −3.38 to −0.74; P = 0.004 and −8.12 million, −13.73 to −2.51, P = 0.006, respectively).


This comprehensive meta-regression analysis reports a significant decline in sperm counts (as measured by SC and TSC) between 1973 and 2011, driven by a 50–60% decline among men unselected by fertility from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Because of the significant public health implications of these results, research on the causes of this continuing decline is urgently needed.


Have sperm counts declined? This question remains as controversial today as in 1992 when Carlsen et al. (1992) wrote that: ‘There has been a genuine decline in semen quality over the past 50 years’. This controversy has continued unabated both because of the importance of the question and limitations in studies that have attempted to address it (Swan et al., 2000; Safe, 2013; Te Velde and Bonde, 2013).

Sperm count is of considerable public health importance for several reasons. First, sperm count is closely linked to male fecundity and is a crucial component of semen analysis, the first step to identify male factor infertility (World Health Organization, 2010; Wang and Swerdloff, 2014). The economic and societal burden of male infertility is high and increasing (Winters and Walsh, 2014; Hauser et al., 2015; Skakkebaek et al., 2016). Second, reduced sperm count predicts increased all-cause mortality and morbidity (Jensen et al., 2009; Eisenberg et al., 2014b, 2016). Third, reduced sperm count is associated with cryptorchidism, hypospadias and testicular cancer, suggesting a shared prenatal etiology (Skakkebaek et al., 2016). Fourth, sperm count and other semen parameters have been plausibly associated with multiple environmental influences, including endocrine disrupting chemicals (Bloom et al., 2015; Gore et al., 2015), pesticides (Chiu et al., 2016), heat (Zhang et al., 2015) and lifestyle factors, including diet (Afeiche et al., 2013; Jensen et al., 2013), stress (Gollenberg et al., 2010; Nordkap et al., 2016), smoking (Sharma et al., 2016) and BMI (Sermondade et al., 2013; Eisenberg et al., 2014a). Therefore, sperm count may sensitively reflect the impacts of the modern environment on male health throughout the life course (Nordkap et al., 2012).

Given this background, we conducted a rigorous and complete systematic review and meta-regression analysis of recent trends in sperm count as measured by sperm concentration (SC) and total sperm count (TSC), and their modification by fertility and geographic group.


This systematic review and meta-regression analysis was conducted and the results reported in accordance with MOOSE (Meta-analysis in Observational Studies in Epidemiology) (Stroup et al., 2000) and PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis) guidelines (Liberati et al., 2009; Moher et al., 2009) [checklists available upon request—contact corresponding author for access]. Our research team included epidemiologists, andrologists and a qualified medical librarian, with consultation with an expert in meta-analysis. Our predefined protocol, detailed in Supplementary Information, was developed following best practices (Borenstein et al., 2009; Higgins and Green, 2011; Program NT, 2015), and informed by two pilot studies, the first using all 1996 publications and the second all 1981 and 2013 publications.

Systematic review

The goal of the search was to identify all articles that reported primary data on human sperm count. We searched MEDLINE on November 21, 2014 and Embase (Excerpta Medica database) on December 10, 2014 for peer-reviewed, English-language publications. Following the recommendation of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews, we searched in title and abstract for both index (MeSH) terms and keywords and filtered out animal-only studies. We used the MeSH term ‘sperm count’, which includes seven additional terms, and to increase sensitivity we added 13 related keywords (e.g. ‘sperm density’ and ‘sperm concentration’). We included all publications between January 1, 1981 (the first full year after the term ‘Sperm Count’ was added to MEDLINE as a MeSH term) and December 31, 2013 (the last full year at the time we began our MEDLINE search).

All studies that reported primary data on human SC were considered eligible for abstract screening. We evaluated the eligibility of all subgroups within a study. For example, in a case-control study, the control group might have been eligible for inclusion even though, based on our exclusion criteria, the case group was not.

We divided eligible studies into two fertility-defined groups: men unselected by fertility status, hereafter ‘Unselected’ (e.g. young men unlikely to be aware of their fertility such as young men screened for military service or college students); and fertile men, hereafter ‘Fertile’ (e.g. men who were known to have conceived a pregnancy, such as fathers or partners of pregnant women regardless of pregnancy outcome).

A study was excluded if study participants were selected based on: infertility or sub-fertility; range of semen parameters (e.g. studies selecting normospermic men); genital abnormalities, other diseases or medication. We also excluded studies limited to men with exposures that may affect fertility such as occupational exposure, post-intervention or smoking. Studies of candidates for vasectomy or semen donation were included only if semen quality was not a criterion for men’s study participation. Studies with fewer than 10 men and those that used non-standard methods to collect or count sperm (e.g. methods other than masturbation for collection, or methods other than hemocytometer for counting) were also excluded.

First, based on the title and abstract the publication was either excluded or advanced to full text screening. Any publication without an abstract was automatically referred for full text screening. Second, we reviewed the full text and assigned it to exclusion within a specific category, or data extraction. We then confirmed study eligibility and identified multiple publications from the same study to ensure that estimates from the same population were not used more than once.

Data extraction

We extracted summary statistics on SC and TSC (mean, SD, SE, minimum, maximum, median, geometric mean and percentiles), mean or additional data on semen volume, sample size (for SC and for TSC), sample collection years and covariates: fertility group, country, age, ejaculation abstinence time, methods of semen collection, methods of assessing of SC and semen volume, selection of population and study exclusion criteria as well as number of samples per man. The range of permissible values, both for categorical and numerical variables, and information on data completeness were recorded. Data were extracted on all eligible subgroups separately as well as for the total population, if relevant. We attempted to extract data on additional potential confounders such as BMI, smoking and other lifestyle factors (e.g. alcohol and stress). However, except for smoking (which was examined in sensitivity analysis), data were available for such variables in only a minority of studies so these were not included in meta-regression analyses.

Quality control

The study was conducted following a predefined protocol (Supplementary Information). Screening for this extensive systematic review was conducted by a team of eight reviewers (H.L., N.J., A.M.A., J.M., D.W.D., I.M., J.D.M., S.H.S.). The screening protocol was piloted by screening of 50 abstracts by all reviewers followed by a comparison of results, resolution of any inconsistencies and clarification of the protocol as needed. The same quality control process was followed for full text screening (35 studies reviewed by all reviewers) and data extraction (data extracted from three studies by all reviewers). All data were entered into digital spreadsheets with explicit permissible values (no open-ended entries) to increase consistency. After data extraction, an additional round of data editing and quality control of all studies was conducted by H.L. The process ensured that each study was evaluated by at least two different reviewers.

Statistical analysis

We used point estimates of mean SC or mean TSC from individual studies to model time trends during the study period, as measured by slope of SC or TSC per calendar year. The midpoint of the sample collection period was the independent variable in all analyses. Units were million/ml for SC and million for TSC (defined as SC × sample volume) and all slopes denote unit change per calendar year.

We first used simple linear regression models to estimate SC and TSC as functions of year of sample collection, with each study weighted by sample size. We then used random-effects meta-regression to model both SC and TSC as linear functions of time, weighting studies by the SE. In all meta-regression analyses, we included indicator variables to denote studies with more than one SC estimate. We controlled for a pre-determined set of potential confounders: fertility group, geographic group, age, abstinence time, whether semen collection and counting methods were reported, number of samples per man and indicators for exclusion criteria (Supplementary Table S1).

For several key variables missing values were estimated and a variable was included in meta-regression analyses to denote that the value had been estimated. For example, for studies that reported median (not mean) SC or TSC, we estimated the mean by adding the average difference between the mean and median in studies for which both were reported. For studies that did not report the range or midpoint year of sample collection, the midpoint was estimated by subtracting the average difference between year of publication and midpoint year of sample collection in studies for which both were reported from publication year. When SD but not SE of SC or TSC were reported, the SE was calculated by dividing the SD by the square root of sample size for each estimate. For studies that did not report SD or SE, we estimated SE by dividing the mean SD of studies that reported SD by the square root of sample size for this estimate. If mean TSC was not reported it was calculated by multiplying mean SC by mean semen volume (Supplementary Information).

Our final analyses included two groups of countries. One group (referred to here as ‘Western’) includes studies from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The second (‘Other’/‘Non-Western’) includes studies from all other countries (from South America, Asia and Africa). We initially examined studies from North America separately from Europe/Australia but combined these because trends were similar and only 16% of estimates were from North America. We assessed modification of slope by fertility group (Unselected versus Fertile) and geographic group (Western versus Other). Because of significant modification by fertility and geography, results of models with interaction terms are presented for four categories: Unselected Western; Fertile Western; Unselected Other; and Fertile Other. Overall percentage declines were calculated by estimating the sperm count (SC or TSC) in the first and last year of data collection, and dividing the difference by the estimate in the first year. The percentage decline per year was calculated by dividing the overall percentage declines by the number of years.

We ran all analyses for TSC weighting by SE of TSC and adjusted for method used to assess semen volume: weighing, read from pipette, read from tube or other.

We conducted several sensitivity analyses; adding cubic and quadratic terms for year of sample collection in meta-regression analyses to assess non-linearity; excluding a specific group for each covariate, such as a group with incomplete information; removing covariates one at a time from the model; removing studies with SEs > 20 million/ml; replacing age group by mean age, excluding studies that did not report mean age; adding covariate for high smoking prevalence (>30%); excluding countries that contributed the greatest number of estimates in order to examine the influence of these countries; restricting analyses to studies with data collected after 1985 and after 1995 to examine recent trends.

All analyses were conducted using STATA version 14.1 (StataCorp, TX, USA). A value of P < 0.05 was considered significant for main effect and P < 0.10 for interaction.


Systematic review and summary statistics

Using PubMed and Embase searches we identified 7518 publications meeting our criteria for abstract screening (Fig. 1). Of these, 14 duplicate records were removed and 4994 were excluded based on title or abstract screening. Full texts of the remaining 2510 articles were reviewed for eligibility and 2179 studies were excluded. Of the remaining 331 articles, 146 were excluded during data extraction and the second round of full text screening (mainly due to multiple publications). The meta-regression analysis is based on the remaining 185 studies, which included 244 unique mean SC estimates based on samples collected between 1973 and 2011 from 42 935 men. Data were available from 6 continents and 50 countries. The mean SC was 81 million/ml, the mean TSC was 260 million and the mean year of data sample collection was 1995. Of the 244 estimates, 110 (45%) were Unselected Western, 65 (27%) Fertile Western, 30 (12%) Unselected Other and 39 (16%) Fertile Other. Data from the 185 publications included in the meta-analysis are available upon request—contact corresponding author for access (Abyholm, 1981; Fariss et al., 1981; Leto and Frensilli, 1981; Wyrobek et al., 1981a,b; Aitken et al., 1982; Nieschlag et al., 1982; Obwaka et al., 1982; Albertsen et al., 1983; Fowler and Mariano, 1983; Sultan Sheriff, 1983; Wickings et al., 1983; Asch et al., 1984; de Castro and Mastrorocco, 1984; Fredricsson and Sennerstam, 1984; Freischem et al., 1984; Ward et al., 1984; Ayers et al., 1985; Heussner et al., 1985; Rosenberg et al., 1985; Aribarg et al., 1986; Comhaire et al., 1987; Kirei, 1987; Giblin et al., 1988; Kjaergaard et al., 1988; Mieusset et al., 1988, 1995; Jockenhovel et al., 1989; Sobowale and Akiwumi, 1989; Svanborg et al., 1989; Zhong et al., 1990; Culasso et al., 1991; Dunphy et al., 1991; Gottlieb et al., 1991; Nnatu et al., 1991; Pangkahila, 1991; Weidner et al., 1991; Levine et al., 1992; Sheriff and Legnain, 1992; Ali et al., 1993; Arce et al., 1993; Bartoov et al., 1993; Fedder et al., 1993; Noack-Fuller et al., 1993; World Health Organization, 1993; Hill et al., 1994; Rehan, 1994; Rendon et al., 1994; Taneja et al., 1994; Vanhoorne et al., 1994; Auger et al., 1995; Cottell and Harrison, 1995; Figa-Talamanca et al., 1996; Fisch et al., 1996; Irvine et al., 1996; Van Waeleghem et al., 1996; Vierula et al., 1996; Vine et al., 1996; Auger and Jouannet, 1997; Jensen et al., 1997; Lemcke et al., 1997; Handelsman, 1997a,b; Chia et al., 1998; Muller et al., 1998; Naz et al., 1998; Gyllenborg et al., 1999; Kolstad et al., 1999; Kuroki et al., 1999; Larsen et al., 1999; Purakayastha et al., 1999; Reddy and Bordekar, 1999; De Celis et al., 2000; Glazier et al., 2000; Mak et al., 2000; Selevan et al., 2000; Wiltshire et al., 2000; Zhang et al., 2000; Foppiani et al., 2001; Guzick et al., 2001; Hammadeh et al., 2001; Jorgensen et al., 2001, 2002, 2011, 2012; Kelleher et al., 2001; Lee and Coughlin, 2001; Patankar et al., 2001; Tambe et al., 2001; Xiao et al., 2001; Costello et al., 2002; Junqing et al., 2002; Kukuvitis et al., 2002; Luetjens et al., 2002; Punab et al., 2002; Richthoff et al., 2002; Danadevi et al., 2003; de Gouveia Brazao et al., 2003; Firman et al., 2003; Liu et al., 2003; Lundwall et al., 2003; Roste et al., 2003; Serra-Majem et al., 2003; Uhler et al., 2003; Xu et al., 2003; Ebesunun et al., 2004; Rintala et al., 2004; Toft et al., 2004, 2005; Bang et al., 2005; Mahmoud et al., 2005; Muthusami and Chinnaswamy, 2005; O’Donovan, 2005; Tsarev et al., 2005, 2009; Durazzo et al., 2006; Fetic et al., 2006; Giagulli and Carbone, 2006; Haugen et al., 2006; Iwamoto et al., 2006, 2013a,b; Pal et al., 2006; Yucra et al., 2006; Aneck-Hahn et al., 2007; Garcia et al., 2007; Multigner et al., 2007; Plastira et al., 2007; Rignell-Hydbom et al., 2007; Wu et al., 2007; Akutsu et al., 2008; Bhattacharya, 2008; Gallegos et al., 2008; Goulis et al., 2008; Jedrzejczak et al., 2008; Kobayashi et al., 2008; Korrovits et al., 2008; Li and Gu, 2008; Lopez-Teijon et al., 2008; Paasch et al., 2008; Peters et al., 2008; Recabarren et al., 2008; Recio-Vega et al., 2008; Saxena et al., 2008; Shine et al., 2008; Andrade-Rocha, 2009; Kumar et al., 2009, 2011; Rylander et al., 2009; Stewart et al., 2009; Vani et al., 2009, 2012; Verit et al., 2009; Engelbertz et al., 2010; Hossain et al., 2010; Ortiz et al., 2010; Rubes et al., 2010; Tirumala Vani et al., 2010; Al Momani et al., 2011; Auger and Eustache, 2011; Axelsson et al., 2011; Brahem et al., 2011; Jacobsen et al., 2011; Khan et al., 2011; Linschooten et al., 2011; Venkatesh et al., 2011; Vested et al., 2011; Absalan et al., 2012; Al-Janabi et al., 2012; Katukam et al., 2012; Mostafa et al., 2012; Nikoobakht et al., 2012; Rabelo-Junior et al., 2012; Splingart et al., 2012; Bujan et al., 2013; Girela et al., 2013; Halling et al., 2013; Ji et al., 2013; Mendiola et al., 2013; Redmon et al., 2013; Thilagavathi et al., 2013; Valsa et al., 2013; Zalata et al., 2013; Zareba et al., 2013; Huang et al., 2014).

PRISMA Flow chart showing the selection of studies eligible for meta-regression analysis.

Simple linear models

Combining results from all four groups of men SC declined significantly (slope per year −0.70 million/ml; 95% CI: −0.72 to −0.69; P < 0.001) over the study period when using simple linear models (unadjusted, weighted by sample size) (Fig. 2a). SC declined by 0.75% per year (95% CI: 0.73–0.77%) and overall by 28.5% between 1973 and 2011. A similar trend was seen for TSC (slope per year = −2.23 million; 95% CI: −2.31 to −2.16; P < 0.001) (Fig. 2b), corresponding to a decline in TSC of 0.75% per year (95% CI: 0.72–0.78%), and 28.5% overall. Semen volume (156 estimates), did not change significantly over the study period (slope per year = 0.0003 ml; 95% CI: −0.0003 to 0.0008; P = 0.382).

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Migrants: Nouvelles poursuites judiciaires contre Cédric Herrou

Migrants: Nouvelles poursuites judiciaires contre Cédric Herrou

JUSTICE Une information judiciaire a été ouverte…

20 Minutes avec AFP


Cédric Herrou à son procès en appel — Mathilde Ceilles / 20 Minutes

La justice a engagé de nouvelles poursuites contre le défenseur des migrants Cédric Herrou, interpellé lundi soir en gare de Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes) avec plus de 150 migrants arrivés chez lui depuis l’Italie et qu’il accompagnait pour demander l’asile, a indiqué mercredi le parquet de Grasse.

>> A lire aussi : Migrants: Devant le juge, Cédric Herrou dit avoir «l’impression de faire le travail de l’Etat»

Après une garde à vue prolongée, une information judiciaire a été ouverte pour « aide à l’entrée et à la circulation d’étrangers en situation irrégulière » contre l’agriculteur militant, a précisé le procureur adjoint de Grasse Thierry Bonifay.

Condamné en première instance

Déjà poursuivi par le parquet de Nice, Cédric Herrou, dont le député européen EELV José Bové avait demandé mardi la libération, a été condamné en première instance à 3.000 euros d’amende avec sursis. La cour d’appel d’Aix-en-Provence pourrait avoir la main plus lourde le 8 août.

Cédric Herrou est la figure emblématique de l’association de défense des migrants Roya Citoyenne, qui demande depuis des mois aux pouvoirs publics un accueil d’urgence pour les milliers de personnes originaires de régions instables d’Afrique arrivant de Vintimille (Italie).


Cédric Herrou : « Ce que je fais n’est pas un … – controappunto blog

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Alexander Glazunov : “The Forest” Orchestral Fantasy – Saxophone Concerto – Symphony 8

Composer of the Month: Alexander Glazunov

by David Nice on September 9, 2016 (September 9, 2016) filed under Classical Music | Orchestral | Chamber | Instrumental | Vocal & Choral | Comment Now

Over a lifetime that witnessed unprecedented musical and social upheaval in his homeland of Russia, this composer remained resolutely his own man.

Lived 1865-1936
Mostly in St. Petersburg, Paris
Best known for The Seasons, Symphonies, Violin Concerto
Similar to Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Borodin

Between the realism of Mussorgsky, who sought melody in the patterns of natural human speech, and the highly-strung autobiography of Tchaikovsky’s more personal works, Alexander Glazunov’s sane, well-made symphonies and gentle building on tradition seem remarkably tame to those looking for authentic Russian wildness.

One reason for the lower emotional temperatures is that, although he had composed three symphonies before Tchaikovsky took his final bow with the Pathétique, Glazunov was from a different generation. Many of his mentors came to maturity in the 1860s, the decade in which the emancipation of the serfs brought a new strain of thought devoted to all things genuinely Russian; it was the era of Chernyshevsky’s polemical novel What is to be done? and artist Ilya Repin’s masterly pictorial commentaries on social ills. By the 1880s, when precocious ‘Sasha’ Glazunov came into his own, painters had turned to abstraction and idealism had become the order of the day. If ever there was music to embody the notion of ‘art for art’s sake’, it is Glazunov’s.

Everything came easily to Glazunov. The son of a St. Petersburg publisher and bookseller whose own father had printed the first edition of Pushkin’s verse novel Eugene Onegin, Glazunov was encouraged in his first musical steps by his mother, a keen amateur pianist. At 13 he was introduced to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov by the doyen of Russia’s first musical nationalist movement, Mily Balakirev. Rimsky-Korsakov in his autobiography, My Musical Life, gives a characteristically vivid picture of “a charming boy, with beautiful eyes, who played the piano very clumsily” but whose musical development in harmony and counterpoint studies “progressed not by
the day, but literally by the hour”.

Master and pupil were already the best of friends by the time Glazunov’s First Symphony, completed when he was 16, had its first performance with Balakirev conducting in one of the nationalists’ Free Music School Concerts on March 17, 1882. Rimsky-Korsakov hailed it as “youthful in inspiration, but mature in technique and form”. The critical conscience of the nationalist circle, Vladimir Stasov, whose word was still law in the 1880s, described the principal characteristics of Glazunov’s early works as “an incredibly vast sweep, power, inspiration, wondrous beauty, rich fantasy, sometimes humour, sadness, passion, and always amazing clarity and freedom of form.”

The best of them owe something to the nationalist principles which Glazunov was soon to abandon, and a great deal to the example of the only great Russian symphonist other than Tchaikovsky up to that point: Borodin. The symphonic poem Stenka Razin, about the leader of the 17th-century Cossack rebellion against tsarist tyranny, commands a brooding introduction and variations both based on the famous Song of the Volga Boatmen. The Second Symphony of the following year, 1886, is saturated in the idiom of Borodin’s more leonine style alongside the first clear emergence of Glazunov’s delightful writing for woodwind solos (he encouraged Rimsky-Korsakov to join him in a hands-on study of wind instruments).

Ilya Repin’s Volga Boatmen

When Borodin died in 1887, Glazunov teamed up with Rimsky-Korsakov to piece together the still-unfinished opera Prince Igor. Glazunov’s seemingly photographic memory enabled him to reconstruct the Overture from memory. He added more to the Third Act and to the only two movements to have been sketched out of Borodin’s Third Symphony.

Glazunov wrote no operas himself, and very little vocal music. One of his greatest legacies to Russian music, though, was the part he played in consolidating a native repertoire of chamber music. The prompting came from a benefactor who played an even more important role in his life than Rimsky-Korsakov. Mitrofan Belyayev, heir to his father’s wood dealership enterprise and keen amateur musician, was enraptured by the premiere of Glazunov’s First Symphony. Three years later he founded a publishing firm for the music of Glazunov and others. MP Belaieff, based in Leipzig, produced more than 2,000 scores of new music.

At the same time, Belyayev’s Friday soirées developed musical forms largely neglected by Russian composers (though Tchaikovsky and Borodin had already composed five splendid string quartets between them). With himself as viola players through the quartets of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, with a new work featuring by way of conclusion; Glazunov’s First Quartet was an early offshoot, followed by five others of equal mastery.

“Belyayev’s Friday soirées developed musical forms neglected in Russia”

After supper at 1am, Glazunov would often play the piano before Belyayev and others hit the streets for further entertainment. Later, as the number of string players increased to allow quintets and sextets, he took up a second cello part. The Belyayev Circle, dominated subsequently by Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Lyadov, was to the 1880s and 1890s what the Mighty Handful of Russian composers centred around Balakirev – Musorgsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and César Cui, making up the nicknamed ‘Five’ – had been to the 1860s.

Alongside these spirited entertainments, which spawned Glazunov arrangements of Bach fugues and Grieg songs as well as often playful piano works, symphonic progress advanced. The beauty of the wind writing and the piquancy of many lively scherzos – did any Russian composer ever write a dull one? – reach their apogee in Glazunov’s enchanting Fourth Symphony, marking his resurrection from an identity crisis in 1893. A new element in his symphonism had appeared following the St. Petersburg theatre season of 1888-92, when a German company under the distinguished conductor Karl Muck gave the Mariinsky Theatre premiere of Wagner’s four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. “Glazunov and I attended the rehearsals,” notes Rimsky-Korsakov, “following them score in hand… Wagner’s method of orchestration struck Glazunov and me, and thenceforth Wagner’s devices gradually began to form a part of our orchestral tricks of the trade.”

It was not only the Ring which made its influence felt. Rimsky-Korsakov noted “clear traces of Tristan” in the slow movement of Glazunov’s Third Symphony. In the finales of the Third, Fourth, Sixth and Eighth, the good humour of Die Meistersinger as well as its exuberant counterpoint – an art at which Glazunov, too, was a natural – plays a major role.

Aleksandr Glazunov and Mily Balakirev

Evidently, too, it was only with Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893 that Glazunov could fully indulge his elder’s influence which he may have felt was at loggerheads with the more consistently nationalistic composers. The Fifth Symphony is perhaps his most nobly Tchaikovskian, and while two out of the three ballets he composed in the late 1890s – the full-length Raymonda with its vague background of medieval chivalry and the sugary Les Ruses d’Amour – never came close to the heights and popularity of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, it’s thanks to its concise nature that a third, The Seasons, has stayed in the repertoire. Glazunov conducted a delightful recording of it in 1929 which demonstrates a rather surer command of the baton than during his famously disastrous premiere of the young Rachmaninov’s First Symphony in 1897; Rachmaninov’s wife alleged that Glazunov had been at the bottle before the performance.

His only other major music for the stage was incidental music for two plays. One was a momentous 1908 St. Petersburg production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome  with actress-dancer Ida Rubinstein in the title role, sets and costumes by Léon Bakst and choreography by Mikhail Fokine; when all three struck out on new paths in Paris, Glazunov was not to follow. Later, in 1913, he provided a longer, more elaborately interconnected score for the poetically minded Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich’s mystery play The King of the Jews.

Any fast-solidifying conservatism in Glazunov’s music was contradicted by his liberal actions. In 1905, as professor at the St Petersburg Conservatoire, he showed solidarity with director Rimsky-Korsakov’s resignation, a result of that noble composer’s sympathy with the students’ revolutionary actions in the January upheavals. When things returned to relative normality, Glazunov took up the directorship with Rimsky-Korsakov’s full approval. It was a post he held for 23 years, buffeted but not thrown by the aftermath of the 1917 revolution, when he defended the democratic principles he had always upheld in the Conservatoire.

His most distinguished pupils, though, showed how the old guard was fading with the rise of the new. Sergey Prokofiev, who entered the Conservatoire on Glazunov’s passionate prompting as a 13-year-old in 1904, started out by admiring the director’s well-made symphonies, playing them through in four-hand piano arrangements with his senior student friend Nikolai Myaskovsky, but by 1913 he was scornful of “fat Shurenok”’s style. The winged utterances of Alexander Scriabin, whose mystical aspirations first came properly to the fore in his Third Symphony, The Divine Poem, premiered in 1905, were more to the taste of this younger generation. The gulf between the director and his pupil was epitomised by the first performance in 1916 of Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite, originally a ballet score inspired by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, when Glazunov walked out eight bars before the end of the magnesium-bright sunrise finale.

His own music had gone as far as it could. The Violin Concerto of 1904 is a miracle of concision, wedding bittersweet melancholy to one of the most genuinely joyous concerto finales. In his last completed symphony, the Eighth completed in 1907, the slow movement for once sustains a genuine vein of disquiet, and the turbulent, chromatic Scherzo is an astonishing anticipation of Elgar’s even more giddying Rondo in his Second Symphony.

With the pressures of conservatoire life, Glazunov’s composing career was all but over. He survived Soviet life for a while, encouraging new talents such as the young Shostakovich and sharing cramped lodgings with his old mother as well as a lady friend whom Prokofiev was amazed to discover on the scene when he paid a visit in 1927. The following year, Glazunov was ready to spend as much time in the west as he could, settling on the grounds of ill health in Paris, where he died in 1936.

“With the pressures of conservatoire life, Glazunov’s career was over”

The distinguished scholar of Russian music Alfred Swan summed up the compositional burnout rather ruthlessly: “Glazunov’s musical talent was based on strong natural foundations, but was in no way nurtured by intellectual, literary or philosophical pursuits and interests. Hence, he was bound to reach the limits of creative development sooner or later.” Yet before he did, Glazunov left an approachable, attractive body of work which is much more than a halfway house between Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky on the one hand, Prokofiev and Shostakovich on the other. His genius for robust, wholesome invention will not be forgotten.

His style

Orchestral Mastery
Glazunov never seems to have had any trouble with orchestration. His attempt to get to grips with various wind instruments in 1885 is typical of his attention to detail. Fellow composer Taneyev was reluctant to accept his help with instrumentation, but succumbed in the end.

A Talent For Dance
Like Tchaikovsky, Glazunov had a way with lilting, memorable waltz themes – and not just in the ballets. Dance movements surface in unexpected places, like the spangled sixth movement of the 1895 Coronation Cantata. His scherzos scintillate, and he is not afraid to use unusual metres – probably a legacy of Rimsky-Korsakov’s folk-based experiments.

Mood Music
An instinct for atmosphere comes in useful for the nature-inspired symphonic poems – The Forest (1887) and The Sea (1889) – as well as for the brooding introduction of Stenka Razin, based on the semi-traditional Song of the Volga Boatmen. Glazunov is also a master of the slow symphonic introduction, often linked thematically to livelier music.

Natural Development
Quick on the uptake to learn from Rimsky-Korsakov’s tuition in harmony and counterpoint, Glazunov often seems effortless in his symphonic developments alongside the more laboured efforts in many of Tchaikovsky’s works. His finales show remarkable skill in bringing various different themes together.


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Samuel Beckett : MALONE DIES pdf ed altro, ALL THAT FAL bis

.MALONE DIES by Samuel Beckett trans. from the French by the author .

Malone muore

Titolo originale: Malone meurt | Data di composizione: 1948 | Prima edizione: Les Editions de Minuit, Parigi, 1951 | Edizioni italiane: Mondadori, 1965Mondadori, 1970SugarCo, 1994Einaudi, 1996Einaudi, 2011

C.D. Friedrich, “Luna che sorge sul mare” (part.), 1822, Galleria Nazionale di Berlino. “E’ una notte come le amava Caspar David Friedrich, tempestosa e chiara”, dichiara Malone in un punto del romanzo.

La prima volta che ho avuto tra le mani un libro di Beckett è stato da ragazzo […] avevo comperato una copia di Malone muore […] Mi è rimasta, di questa prima lettura, la sbalorditiva impressione di un libro che cominciava dove gli altri finivano“. Così Antonio Moresco nel suo pamphlet dedicato allo scrittore irlandese (in Bollati Boringhieri, 1999).
Malone muore, secondo capitolo della Trilogia (tra Molloy e L’innominabile), segna un decisivo traguardo della poetica beckettiana e fotografa, con una chiarezza che lascia sospettare la premeditazione, il momento di transizione dal romanzo tradizionale al romanzo “beckettiano”.
Chi è Malone? Un derelitto, ovviamente. Giace in un letto aspettando di morire. Per la precisione: aspettando di finire (verbo beckettiano per eccellenza). Non sa nulla del posto in cui si trova: potrebbe essere un ospedale, un ospizio, un manicomio, ma Malone esclude tutte queste ipotesi. È un letto di una stanza spoglia. Dalla posizione in cui si trova riesce a vedere una parte dell’edificio di fronte. Ogni tanto la porta della stanza si apre. Una mano fa la sua comparsa nella fessura. Svuota il vaso dei bisogni, porta un piatto di cibo usando, come appoggio, un tavolo (facilmente raggiungibile sia dalla porta che dal letto).
Cosa fa Malone? Scrive, ovviamente. Ha un taccuino e una matita. E scrive in continuazione. Non vede né il taccuino né la matita. Scrive alla cieca. Forse è cieco. Ma scrive senza soluzione di continuità. L’effetto è reso magistralmente da Beckett nel seguente passaggio: “Ah sì, ho le mie piccole distrazioni e dovrebbero “. La frase si interrompe così bruscamente. Nel testo c’è una riga bianca. Poi il narratore prosegue: “Che disgrazia, la matita dev’essermi caduta di mano, perché l’ho ritrovata soltanto adesso dopo quarantotto ore (vedi sopra in qualche punto) di sforzi intermittenti. Ho passato or ora due giornate indimenticabili di cui non sapremo mai nulla“.

Una matita di marca Venus. E’ proprio con una matita come questa che Malone scrive le sue storie sul suo taccuino.

Malone scrive storie in attesa di finire. Il suo primo personaggio è Saposcat, un ragazzo ospite di una famiglia di contadini. Ma ben presto le avventure di Saposcat non lo interessano più. E il personaggio subisce una metamorfosi e diventa Macmann il vagabondo che finisce in manicomio e viene accudito dalla vecchia Moll. Malone fa morire il personaggio di Moll e crea Lemuel, un folle infermiere che porta Macmann e gli altri ricoverati del manicomio a fare una pericolosa escursione notturna su un’isola. L’imbarcazione naufraga. Macmann muore. Malone muore. Forse.
Ci sono due piani narrativi ben definiti in questo romanzo. Il piano delle storie che racconta Malone e il piano in cui si svolge la storia di Malone. Nel primo piano si sente ancora il “vecchio” Beckett, il Beckett irlandese. Nel secondo piano si individua già chiaramente il “nuovo” Beckett, il Beckett francese che lavora sull’astrazione e sulla rarefazione, il Beckett della fine e del silenzio. Ma attenzione: non si tratta di un passaggio in atto. Il salto poetico si è già compiuto (e si è compiuto con lucidità in Molloy). Si tratta invece di un uso consapevole e ironico dei registri: “che miseria“, “che noia“, “che noia mortale” esclamerà in continuazione Malone (il nuovo piano narrativo) giudicando i passi appena scritti sul taccuino (il vecchio piano narrativo). Non sarebbe meglio parlare direttamente della fine? E’ quello che Beckett farà nell’ultimo capitolo della Trilogia: L’innominabile.
I legami tra Malone muore e le altre opere di Beckett sono molti: l’interrogativo di fondo (come finire?) è lo stesso che anima Finale di partita e quest’opera teatrale viene chiaramente preannunciata dalla frase di Malone “tutto diverrebbe silenzioso e scuro e le cose al loro posto per sempre, finalmente” che ricorda la battuta di Clov: “ogni cosa al suo ultimo posto sotto l’ultima polvere“. Aspettando Godot, che sarebbe stato scritto immediatamente dopo la stesura di Malone muore, viene invece preannunciato da una “ottimistica” riflessione di Malone (“Perché scoraggiarsi? Già un ladrone fu salvato, è pur sempre una bella percentuale“) che ricalca, quasi pedissequamente, la celebre battuta di Estragone. Infine, in un passo del romanzo, Macmann viene paragonato al colosso di Memnone, similitudine che Beckett riutilizzerà, più di trent’anni dopo, per descrivere la protagonista di Mal visto mal detto. Un aggancio con il romanzo precedente viene individuato da Alvarez: “[Malone] non sa come ha raggiunto la stanza in cui è sepolto, sebbene abbia un bastone macchiato di sangue sulla sponda del letto e vaghi ricordi di una foresta e di un colpo sulla testa. Egli potrebbe così essere l’uomo che sia Molloy sia Moran hanno incontrato e attaccato nei loro vagabondaggi“.
La stesura di Malone muore determinò uno straordinario mutamento nelle condizioni fisiche di Beckett. Mentre era impegnato nel lavoro le persone a lui vicine temevano veramente che potesse morire una volta che il libro fosse terminato“, scrive Bair. E aggiunge: “tuttavia, non appena terminato il libro, Beckett entrò in una fase di euforia e di espansività che non provava ormai da anni. Questa reazione si verificò da allora ogni volta che egli arrivava al termine di un’opera“.


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Dans le Var, un paysage de cendres après les incendies ravageurs – Libye : Emmanuel Macron salue

Dans le Var, un paysage de cendres après les incendies ravageurs

A La Une Faits Divers

Publié le par SudOuest.fr avec AFP.

Face à un feu d’une rapidité extrême, les habitants du Var sont sous le choc et les pompiers s’activent. Plus de 1000 hectares se sont transformés en cendres

Des figuiers de barbarie comme fondus, un paysage de cendres, les fenêtres béantes d’une maison dévastée: “Là où est passé le feu, ça ressemble à la Berezina, il n’y a plus rien”, le premier adjoint de la mairie de La Croix-Valmer (Var), près de Saint-Tropez, est catastrophé.

“Le cap Taillat et le cap Lardier sont dévastés”, dit René Carandante. “Voir ces pins parasols tout calcinés, c’est vraiment atroce !” Incapable encore d’en parler au passé, il décrit “l’un des plus beaux sites d’Europe, sauvage, très beau avec ce vert (de la forêt) et ce bleu (de la mer), et une faune endémique”.

Des centaines de pompiers s’activaient toujours mardi soir dans le département contre plusieurs feux qui ont dévasté plus de mille hectares.

Le visage en sueur, les bras couverts de suie, les hommes du capitaine chef de secteur Frédéric Perret arrosent à la petite lance des arbres à la silhouette racornie, sur les pentes du cap Taillat, un site protégé de la presqu’île de Saint-Tropez.

Un feu d’une extraordinaire rapidité

A la moindre flamme, ou reprise de feu, des instructions fusent. “On va rester sous surveillance au moins 48 heures. On noie les bordures pour ne pas que ça reprenne”, indique le capitaine Perret, en remontant une colonne de camions postés le long de la piste menant au domaine de la Bastide Blanche.

La cave viticole, une propriété du groupe Bolloré, est encore debout. Ceux qui vivent à côté sont sous le choc. Le feu a été d’une extraordinaire rapidité, avançant à plus de 2 kilomètres/ heure, le double d’un feu normal, selon le capitaine Perret.

Un homme, invité chez des amis, confie qu’il s’est écoulé une demi-heure entre l’instant où ils ont vu le ciel se teinter d’une lueur blanchâtre et le moment où il était déjà trop tard pour être évacué.

Il est bouleversé : “On nous a dit de nous regrouper et on a passé la nuit dans la cave”. Il ajoute, en larmes: “Les pompiers ont été géniaux.”

Dix années de travail en fumée

Chez des voisins, deux kayaks de mer, un jaune, un blanc, étaient rangés dans le jardin. Il n’en reste qu’un morceau. Quant à l’habitation, on peine à imaginer qu’on y vivait il y a seulement 24 heures: il n’y a plus que les murs. Le reste a explosé, sous l’effet du brasier.

Dans ce coin de France dont la beauté attire les estivants, du campeur au milliardaire, les villas sont cachées au milieu des pins parasols qui moutonnent en bord de mer. Un cauchemar en cas de feu de forêt.

Pour François Fouchier, délégué régional du conservatoire du littoral, ce sont dix années de travail parties en fumée.

“Au-delà du fait que c’est la plage des milliardaires, le cap Taillat est un endroit emblématique (…) et il y avait eu un boulot énorme en termes de reconquête naturelle et pour baliser les sentiers. Tout est à refaire” François Fouchier

A 80 km de là, toujours dans le Var, des centaines d’hectares de forêts de pins et de chênes sont aussi partis en fumée. Le feu a pris lundi vers 21H30 sur une départementale entre Rians et Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume.

“Cette année, la forêt n’a pas été entretenue, il n’y a pas eu de débroussaillement”, se désole Gabriel Magne, le maire d’Artigues (Var) d’où est parti le feu.

En fin de journée, de nouveaux renforts arrivaient, des habitations sont menacées et des centaines de personnes évacuées.

Pour expliquer le manque de débroussaillement, un éleveur local, Gilbert Villa, met en cause la présence du loup. “Avec les loups, on ne peut plus aller en forêt et faire le débroussaillement. Avec les troupeaux, on était payé pour débroussailler les pare-feux. Cela fait deux ans que j’ai arrêté à cause des loups”, dit-il.


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