I'm on vacation; have been for a week, in fact. So most likely no posts here till after Labor Day. We've moved into a new country house, which we've been building for more than a year. Now it's finished. Exhilarating! When the blog resumes, I'm eager to make many posts. More about pop music and pop culture -- I've gotten some very thoughtful objections to what I've been saying, which help me refine my thoughts. And then there's the aging audience; I have some striking data. And finally I'm going to write a book on the future of classical … [Read more...]

Good idea

Linked on ArtsJournal today is a fabulous “critic’s notebook” by New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn, about the way orchestras program new music. Or, rather, about one way that they don’t program it.  Allan had heard a piece at Tanglewood that knocked him out—Stephen Stucky’s Second Concerto for Orchestra, which was premiered a year or so ago by the LA Philharmonic, and won the Pulitzer Prize this year. And so Allan asked why he had to wait this long to hear it: While intending no disrespect to the Tanglewood Music Center or its superb … [Read more...]

More good things

When I went to the Glimmerglass Opera a few weeks ago, I ran into an old friend—Carleton Clay, principal trumpet in the Glimmerglass Orchestra, and also a composer and music professor at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. He’s been principal trumpet at Glimmerglass ever since the company was founded, 30 years go. I’ve known him since a couple of years after that, when I was working for the New York State Council on the Arts. My job was to evaluate grant applications  in music (I was one of four people doing that). One year we … [Read more...]

Walking further

In my last post, I talked about walking in New York, and some classical music trivia I ran into. But there’s more to say about walking. It was heavily hot, almost unbelievably so. If I came out from an air conditioned store, the heat was a shock, no matter how many times I encountered it. The air seemed to weigh three times what it normally does. The streets were full of people, though, at least in the places I walked. And walking was disruptive. Every time I’d pass a store, and someone was coming out of it or going in, a blast of cold … [Read more...]


Walking in New York; hot weather, the temperature up as high as 99. Walking is good for me, says the current fad, echoed by my body, which feels toned and alive after walking miles on shopping trips. But then I’ve breathed enough exhaust to give me cancer faster than a lifetime of second-hand smoke. The air is foul. As I’m walking downtown on Broadway, I stop at LincolnCenter to buy some bottled water. I want to sit and drink it by the fountain. They’re charging $3 a bottle, for Aquafina—Pepsi-Cola water, a product of the Pepsi-Cola company—so … [Read more...]

Good time

I raise a lot of perilous questions here on my blog, but sometimes my life in classical music seems completely old-fashioned. I talk to people in the music business about music. I might e-mail with a conductor friend, commisserating about the orchestra he’s conducting at a leading European opera house, which turns out to be full of musicians who don’t like Bellini. Or I go to the Glimmerglass Opera, and see Massenet’s little one-act trifle, The Portrait of Manon, and even though the piece is so slight it’s hardly worth performing, I find myself … [Read more...]


One of the dumbest, most ignorant, and most insulting things I’ve heard in the present culture debates is that younger people have a short attention span. Where did that come from? I won’t try to unearth the history of that insane assertion, other than to suggest that it might in part derive from conventional wisdom about MTV—the videos, supposedly, have a lot of quick cuts, which then infected movies, commercials, and just about everything else in our culture, creating undemanding fodder for people who can’t keep a thought in their head for … [Read more...]

Off the record sources

Ever since I’ve started working inside the classical music business (as a consultant, for instance, or doing projects for orchestras), I’ve noticed that people writing about big classical music institutions don’t seem to know what’s really going on. There are many reasons for this. Many writers are expected to work as both critics and reporters. But these are different skills. How many people have both of them? Second, many writers—even if they’re good reporters—just don’t know the business side of classical music. And why should they? Where … [Read more...]