Friday, August 12, 2005

Orchestras Gone Wild: It's Off Da Hook

A few thought this morning on a fading scandal that makes for better headlines than actual copy. I'm referring to Blair Tindall's Mozart in the Jungle. Apparently her 15 minutes are not quite over.

You'll find a recent interview here.

And why, oh why, am I not surprised by this??

I'd say Robert Dyer gets it just about right. I quote at length because it's so good:

"She's done her homework and marshals all the familiar dismaying statistics about budgets, failing orchestras, and diminishing sources of support. But for all the information she supplies, her book lacks context.

The reader is supposed to be as shocked as Tindall was by the discrepancy between the glamorous myth of classical music and the actual lives of most musicians. Some readers might be surprised, but today's young musicians, who have survived conservatory or university programs and career-planning courses, couldn't possibly believe that myth anymore.

The human cost of the classical music business comes out most poignantly in Tindall's tribute to the late Samuel Sanders, one of her lovers and a close friend.

Sanders was founder of the Cape & Islands festival and a pianist who toured for years with violinist Itzhak Perlman. It's shocking to read that when Perlman was taking home $33,000 for a concert, he paid Sanders only $1,000.

Sanders is by far the book's most endearing character -- lonely, mordantly witty, deeply cultured. He faced health problems from birth and died after his second heart transplant, but he was a dedicated musician who experienced great triumphs by pouring his soul into his work; he didn't phone it in, churn it out, and do coke before performances. He died in debt, deserted by many of his famous friends
. " Read the rest here.

Or, better, this bit of sly snarkage from Alex Ross:

"I played the oboe until age eighteen, and every day I thank my lucky stars I was rescued in the nick of time from that lurid, shocking, degrading lifestyle. (I spent two years in Holliger House, a wonderful shelter for recovering teenaged oboists.) If, as Ms. Tindall claims, classical musicians are routinely drunk, high, and horny when they play, they do much too good a job of hiding it. Let's bring some of this crunkosity out in the open. I want to see a couple of OD's and maybe some onstage vomiting at the NY Phil. Let's put a hidden camera backstage and see what Yo-Yo Ma is really doing before he saunters onstage with that cherubic grin. And let's talk about Pierre Boulez — the original party monster is in town this weekend, and it's going to be off the hook." More.


Jessica said...

I learned the oboe for a year or so when I was 13 & was so bad at it that all I ever managed to do was frighten the cat. Still, it got me out of hockey lessons!

The Well Tempered Blog said...

My own secret shame is that I once studied clarinet!