We’re getting further details of who’s in, who’s out, at the shrinking culture section of the New York Times.

In all, around 15 staff have gone. They include both the pop editor (Fletcher Roberts) and the classical editor (Myra Forsberg); four or five people on the copy desk; the culture reporters Felicia Lee and Larry Rohter; and several photographers on mostly culture assignments.

The distinction between who jumped and who was pushed is being blurred as a seasonal courtesy, but the culture section is (we hear) shrouded in gloom, despondency and thinly suppressed rage.

new york times

News of Allan Kozinn’s departure from the New York Times has gone viral in the music and media communities, with tributes flowing in from many quarters for one of the last honest and knowledgeable writers on the Manhattan main drag.


alan kozinn 2014

Pulitzer winner Tim Page writes from California:

Allan Kozinn could write about anything — with grace, intelligence, perspective and a sly and subtle wit. He had EARS, as they say, and he employed them for more than three decades at The New York Times. I had hoped that things were getting better on Eighth Avenue…. True, the NYT still has some fine critics, but only one of them is now on staff. A bad day for anybody who cares about music.

More pertinent still is this comment from a leading PR who, like  most others, finds it impossible to get a review of interesting concerts – as distinct from show-off stuff – into the paper. This person tells Slipped Disc:

Since Steve Smith left for Boston, it has been a nearly impossible task to get reviewed unless you are über-famous. Most of the classical music department really doesn’t want to give a somewhat lesser-known artist a chance. They want free tickets to the best concerts in town. In a way, they really aren’t reviewing, but attending a great performance and mostly praising what they attend. Occasionally, in an opera or orchestral review, you’ll get a quibble. But, mostly, critics write about – and attend – performances they actually want to hear because they already are familiar with the artists. Where does that leave hundreds of extremely talented and worthy performers: Nowhere, I’m afraid.

There’s no place left in the Times for good music. Its reputation as a newspaper of record died today.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $80,000 towards the production costs of an opera on the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, when more than 300 civilians were slaughtered by US forces.

The opera was commissioned by the Kronos quartet from composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Chessman. It is scheduled for pemiere in 2015 at Stanford University, where Berger is a music professor. He says: ‘I think it will be a reasonably abstract performance… We’re not going to have war scenes set out on the stage…No blood and gore.’

my lai1

Hard to imagine the Russians subsidising an opera on their Chechnya and Ukraine exploits.

William Stokking, a Piatogorsky student, joined the Philadelphia Orch in 1960 but then strayed to Boston and Cleveland for lack of promotion. He returned in 1973 as principal cello and held the seat until his retirement in 2005.

William died on Sunday, aged 80.

Here’s an account of his life-changing accidents.


william stokking

The decision to end ballet performances at La Monnaie as part of a range of financial cuts has drawn a stinging response from the choreographer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, whose company was in residence at La Monnaie for 25 years.

She writes:

« L’annonce de la direction de la Monnaie de supprimer toute sa programmation danse me frappe d’incrédulité. La danse fait historiquement partie de la mission de la Monnaie. Après l’époque glorieuse du duo Béjart/Huisman, le budget de la danse a été systématiquement réduit. La Monnaie, d’abord sous la direction de Gerard Mortier puis sous celle de Bernard Foccroulle, n’a cessé de diminuer ses investissements dans la danse. À présent, Peter De Caluwe supprime tout. Cette évolution oppose un contraste criant au statut de capitale internationale de la danse de Bruxelles.
Depuis trente ans déjà, Rosas donne ses spectacles de danse dans de métropoles comme Paris, Londres, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, et, en Belgique, à Anvers, Gand et Bruxelles. La décision de Peter De Caluwe implique que Rosas n’aura désormais plus de « maison » pour l’accueillir à Bruxelles. Cherchce-t-on à me faire passer le message que je dois chercher un autre lieu/une autre ville ? »

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker,
Bruxelles, 17 décembre 2014




The Monnaie’s announcement that it will end dance programming strikes me with incredulity. Dance is historically part of La Monnaie’s mission. After the glorious era of Béjart / Huisman, budgets were systematically cut. First under Gerard Mortier then under Bernard Foccroulle, La Monnai has steadily shrunk its investment in dance. Now Peter De Caluwe has removed dance altogether. This development contradicts Brussels’s claim to be a capital of dance.

For thirty years now, my company Rosas has given dance performances in Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York and, in Belgium, in Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels. Peter De Caluwe’s decision means that Rosas can no longer consider Brussels its home. I shall look for another place, another city.

Most people in media are aware that the Grey Lady is having a haircut. That means lots of journos being relieved of their jobs, some walking of their own volition, others being escorted to the door.

Among the latter, I learn today, is the veteran music critic and reporter, Allan Kozinn.




Let me declare an interest: Allan is a good colleague and personal friend. I commissioned him to write the best-ever short biography of the Beatles. We see eye to eye on some things, differ on many others.

Allan was for many years the most perceptive music critic on the arts desk, overlooked for promotion in various internal back-stabbings (working at the New York Times requires a heavy suit of moral body-armour).

In the last such round, Allan was taken off the critical beat and shunted off to the news desk to work on arts news stories.

Since the Times doesn’t know an arts story unless it comes from a handful of PRs, this must have been a frustrating experience for an expert judge of musical quality and news values. Allan performed the task uncomplaining. He receieved recent assurances that he was not at risk because he was incredibly productive and unquestionably knowledgeable.

Now he has been rewarded with the  sack.

I feel terribly sorry for him. I feel even sorrier for the New York Times which, time after time, refuses to recognise and sensibly engage the experts under its own roof and, time after time, promotes mediocre keyboard pounders at the expense of refined and intelligent writers.

This is a rotten decision by a newspaper that cannot get much right, a newspaper that has lost its authority.

(Further arts casualties should emerge during the course of today. Indeed they have: see update here.)

UPDATE: Don’t bother to seek  review in the Times. Click here.

The Russian January issue of the fashion magazine is out now. In it, the diva talks about her son’s autism.


Anna Netrebko - Tatler Russia, January 2015 1

The art of treating dying patients is being lost in an era of factory hospitals. The brain surgeon Henry Marsh discusses the doctor’s dilemma with pain-filled perception in his extraordinary book, Do No Harm.

At a lower, entry level,  Carwyn Hooper discusses how he utilises music and poetry to engage future doctors in the moral dimensions of life and death.

Read here.


The big composer anniversaries of 2015 will be Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius, both born in 1865. Nielsen, I write in the new Standpoint, flickers in the shadow of Sibelius. Comparison is inherently unfair since the Finn enjoyed much greater success than the Dane.


That said — and I’m about to outrage five million Finns — Nielsen is, as a man and a composer, more interesting than Sibelius. He is more authentic, more expressive, easier to approach and appreciate.

Read the full essay here.

nielsen car2


This just in from our London neighbour, the wonderful accordion virtuoso Ksenija Sidorova:

Dear audience in Erfurt! Thanks for being understanding and sorry for wearing glasses tonight. I usually never do that, so I feel like dropping a little note…

If you heard sirens of ambulance today it was me being driven to the hospital where moments before the show I got treatment from a massive allergy which resulted in my eyes being almost completely closed.

ksenija hospital


Luckily the wondeful Katie Melua had a pair of shades and saved me for tonight! (She is so super lovely, you’ve no idea!!)

Thanks again for the warm applause! Off i go to put ice patches in hope to get rid of it asap.


ksenija shades

Press release just in:



Luc Bondy

PETER KONWITSCHNY to direct Die Eroberung von Mexico, replacing LUC BONDY

(December 18, 2014, SF) The Salzburg Festival regrets to announce that Luc Bondy finds himself unable to direct the production of Wolfgang Rihm’s Die Eroberung von Mexico for reasons of scheduling as well as personal ones. With him, his team (Johannes Schütz, set design, and Moidele Bickel, costumes) has also resigned from this task.

At the same time, we are happy to announce that we have been able to convince Peter Konwitschny to take on this production as director. With Die Eroberung von Mexico, this great artist also makes his Salzburg Festival debut.

The Festival remains confident that the world premiere of the opera Fin de partie by György Kurtág, originally planned for 2015, will be directed by Luc Bondy and staged by his team in 2016 as previously envisioned.


Wolfgang Rihm, Die Eroberung von Mexico
Musical theatre based on texts by Antonin Artaud, libretto by Wolfgang Rihm
Music Director: Ingo Metzmacher
Stage Director: Peter Konwitschny
Soloists: Angela Denoke, Bo Skovhus et al.
ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna
Premiere of the new production: July 26, 2015, 8:00 pm, Felsenreitschule
Additional performances on July 29 and August 1, 4 and 10