“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, it is the wine of a new procreation, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for men and makes them drunk with the spirit.”

So said Ludwig van Beethoven.

Bacchus deserves to be the center of attention.  Here, wine and music are presented in parallel, in concert, in a duet of delicious parables about symphonies and scores and oenophile experiences.

What to serve the mind and mouth.  Where wine and music meet, over a theme, a composition or a concert, and the best of life can be savored.

If you would like to join the party, and be a Bacchus too, sign up for the IAMBACCHUS news letter.

You can also purchase some IAMBACCHUS products,

or attend some exquisite and unique culinary concerts that feature, what else?

Wine and music.

Read on fellow Beethovenians and Bacchae, O Maenads of Dionysus, free yourself to Eleutherios, raise your glasses and bows and make your toasts.  I AM BACCHUS is your portal to a more maliciously delicious musical life.

The Wonder of Wine

“Too many notes.”  So said Emperor Leopold in Amadeus.  Wines are like musical notes on a page.  Sometimes there are too many to choose from and are simply labels on a shelf.   What makes wine wonderful? How to decide?

This section is about choosing wine.  How to know which year is the best vintage, which locale is best for the grape, who are the best producers of wine, which regions are the best to make wine, where and how to buy the wine, and much, much more.  Most of all, it gives me a chance to feature a wine, even if I am not writing a wine and music article about it.

The first wine to be chosen?  The most recent.  A fantastic Amarone I drank at Estro, my favorite wine bar in Venice. Monte dei Ragni, 2010 is a mouthful of sugar and spice.   It sticks to your tongue like the spider web on the label of the bottle.   Like the famous Quintarelli, at 16%, the Monte dei Ragni  is on the high end of the Amarone alcohol spectrum yet still retains a smooth finish.  It also contains many of the deep tannins and full body texture of the great dal Forno Amarone.   Zeno Zignoli, the great winemaker, has found a perfect balance of 25% Rondinella-50% Corvina- 20% Corvinone- 5% Molinara.   The majority Corvina is what gives the wine its power.  Monte dei Ragni comes from the traditional classico viticultural zone of Valpolicella in Veneto, north-eastern Italy. Those examples from the classico vineyards around Fumane, Marano, Negar and Sant’Ambroglio are considered the finest, and rank among the top wines in Italy.  Monte dei Ragni comes from Località Marega in the comune of Fumane in Valpolicella.  Right in the center of the spider web.

If you are seeking a not so expensive Amarone that meets the tastebuds of the supple and savage, Ragni 2010 is a good choice.   It is a wine that goes with those Con Brio symphonies of Beethoven.  In this case, let us choose the 7th, which Wagner called the “apotheosis of the dance.”  After a bottle of Ragni, you just might be compelled to dance the night away!



Principal Conductor, Bucharest Symphony Orchestra
Principal Guest Conductor, City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Japan


“John Axelrod is a highly imaginative and dynamic musician, whose rich musicological background and historical insights combine with intellectual drive and charismatic enthusiasm for people and for life, to get probing, rigorous and richly characterized interpretations.”
-Remy Franck, Pizzicato

Since 1996, Mr. Axelrod has conducted more than 175 orchestras, 35 operas and 60 world premieres, establishing a profile as one of today’s leading conductors and sought after by orchestras and opera houses throughout the world. His extraordinarily diverse repertoire, innovative programming, probing interpretations and charismatic performance style have been praised and recognized by both audiences and critics. In 2020, Maestro Axelrod received the Special Achievement Award from the International Classical Music Awards for his outstanding contributions and interpretations.

In 2022, Maestro Axelrod was unanimously elected as the Principal Conductor of the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra, with a unique open-ended contract. In 2019, Maestro Axelrod became the Principal Guest Conductor of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, Maestro Axelrod was the Artistic and Musical Director of the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla (ROSS). Other titled positions included Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano (LaVerdi), Music Director of the NHK Jazz at the Metropolitan Theater, Music Director of the l’Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and Theater, Music Director of “Hollywood in Vienna” with the ORF Vienna Radio Orchestra, and as First Conductor of Sinfonietta Cracovia.

Among his long term relationships, invitations and recordings with European orchestras include Berlin’s RSB, NDR Symphony Hamburg (ElbePhilharmonie), Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Teatro La Fenice Orchestra in Venice, Orchestre de Paris, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, and the Mariinsky Orchestra in Russia. In the USA, Mr. Axelrod has conducted the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra among others. Maestro Axelrod recently debuted to great acclaim with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. Important regular festival engagements include the Enescu, Salzburg, Lucerne, Montreux Jazz, Beethoven Festival, Pacific Music and the Schleswig Holstein.

John Axelrod’s key opera activity includes Bernstein’s Candide at Théâtre du Châtelet, Teatro alla Scala and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Eugene Onegin at Teatro San Carlo in Naples, and Kurt Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Rome Opera. For the Lucerne Festival, he conducted: Rigoletto, The Rake’s Progress, Don Giovanni, the Three Penny Opera, Falstaff and Idomeneo. Maestro Axelrod conducted Gianni Schicchi to open the 2020 Puccini Festival and returned in 2021 to conduct a new production of Turandot, directed by Daniele Abbado.

Mr. Axelrod has recorded core and contemporary repertoire for Sony Classical, Warner Classics, Ondine, Universal, Naïve and Nimbus, and released a cycle of Brahms Symphonies with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, entitled Brahms Beloved on Telarc, produced by Grammy winner Michael Fine.

Actively committed to working with young professional musicians, Mr. Axelrod was the Principal Conductor of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, and he has toured with the Santander Orchestra, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra to the Salzburg Festival, the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, the Accademia della Scala to Muscat, the NordDeutsche Junge Philharmonie and the Vienna Jeunesse Orchester. In 2020, Maestro Axelrod created CMO. Conductors Masterclass Online, now teaching 26 students worldwide. In 2022, Maestro Axelrod led the Bucharest Music Institute Masterclass and Competition.

Mr. Axelrod is also a published author and blogger about wine and food.  He presents Concerts Culinaires de Chardonne, featuring the best of wine, food and music and makes cooking videos as The Conductor In The Kitchen.   He is also the founder and president of CultureALL Association, based in Switzerland.

Mr. Axelrod graduated in 1988 from Harvard University. Trained personally by Leonard Bernstein in 1982, he also studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Ilya Musin in 1996 and was mentored by Christoph Eschenbach from 1997 until 2000 when we made his professional debut at assistant conductor for Parisfal at the Bayreuth Festival.



THE EXOTIC ESPAÑA  by John Axelrod ©2018 Before we can fully examine the theme of world music and its influence on classical music today, from Indonesian Gamelan to Afro Cuban Jazz, we must remember that for centuries in Europe, the main source of musical romantic exoticism was from one place, so close, but yet so …