The US Right goes ape over a new concerto

The US Right goes ape over a new concerto


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2015

Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host with a weekly audience of 15 million, is not a name that generally crosses the cultural divide.

But a remark by John Adams, introducing his new violin concerto at Lincoln Center last week, has roused Rush supporters to spitting fury. A neo-con commentator Jay Nordlinger was in the hall for the concert and drew the absurd conclusion that Adams had likened Limbaugh to the Taliban. So Nordlinger psyched up The Mouth himself.

You can read Rush Limbaugh’s full rant here.

This was a symphony for violin and some such movement or whatever, and the composer decided to take to the microphone and explain to the audience — it’s a black-tie audience, Avery Fisher Hall — what it was that inspired this particular symphony or piece or movement that he was performing, conducting, whatever he was doing last night.  And he said he had been in Paris, in Europe, and he was reading Arabian Nights, and he was reading other tracts.

And he was just stunned and he found out all of the discrimination and hatred and mistreatment of women in the Arab world.  And then he paused and he said, “You can find that here on Rush Limbaugh.” Nordlinger said what happened next sickened him.  The audience in Avery Fisher haul applauded for nearly two minutes.  The composer was referencing me as no different than militant Islamists and their treatment for women. 

Limbaugh has clearly never set foot in a classical concert if he imagines everyone is in black tie and a concerto is the same as a symphony. But leave that aside.

From this distance, it seems to us that these rightwing motormouths can dish it out to Obama and the Democrats, but they go running to Mummy at the slightest hint of a personal aspersion.

Let’s hear it for John Adams. He should get a radio show.

John Adams conducting Prom 4, 2012



  • Anon says:

    Hardly something confined to one side of a political divide. The Left tend to take personal aspersions just as bad, if not worse, I’d go as far as to say they are more likely to sue and set up self-contradictory pressure groups than those on the right, who are more likely to make a response piece out of it, as here, and that’s that.

    As for “black-tie audience”, it’s clearly no more than story-telling, a part of the rhetoric, designed to paint a picture; nothing to do with Limbaugh’s knowledge or otherwise of the concert hall.

    • jaypee says:

      What “left”? Are you one of those who think that democrats in the USA are “leftists”?
      Rush Limbaugh is a sh*t-stirrer. Nothing more and nothing less.

      • Brian b says:

        Democrats in the U.S. have moved to the extreme left.

        • Mark says:

          Hardly. Democrats have not moved. It only appears that way because of the talking heads like Rush. The right has become so extreme due to the neo-cons and evangelicals, it is unrecognizable compared to even 20 years ago.

        • Anon says:

          LOL. You must not pay much attention to politics anywhere else in the world.

        • Brian Bell says:

          And Republicans have moved to the extreme right.
          Your point?

        • Dean says:

          That’s absolutely untrue. The extreme Left in this country hardly exists anymore, despite what those on the Right say. The vast majority of Dems range from middle Left to slight-to-middle Right.

        • Luk says:

          you don’t know what extreme left is, then.

          If anything, democrats moved towards the center since some time

          • Christopher Stone says:

            From a country down under that currently has a relatively right wing Federal government, it certainly seems that you only have to be slightly left of Genghis Khan in the US to be accused of being “leftist” or, horrors, “liberal.”

          • cabbagejuice says:

            Left and right as political terms have become meaningless. What the two Bushes did in Iraq was promoting dissolution and anarchy. Obama furthered the process by cheering on the Arab Spring.

  • SergioM says:

    First of all Limbaugh doesn’t have and has never had 16 million listeners He’s been saying that for the last 20 years. That’s all hype that he’s been saying for year. His audience has never been more than 3-4 million tops and it’s been deceasing rapidly over the years with radio stations around the country dropping him

    • Dashman says:

      From what I could glean from the article, John Adams made some very unkind remarks regarding Arabian culture, with respect to its attitude towards women. In order to balance things out, he attacked Rush Limbaugh. But Mr. Limbaugh is low-lying fruit. In order to achieve a better balance, he should have attacked someone, or something, that is representative of a wider swath of Western (not only American) culture. Instead, he only reinforced the majority of the
      audience’s smug opinion of themselves, in their self-righteousness.

      Congratulations to John Adams, for knowing his audience and how to suck up to them.

      • David J Gill says:

        Smug? That seems to be a description of your opinion as well. You think you are better than those “liberals,” don’t you? You don’t seem to notice much worse that is said about the rest of us everyday on Limbaugh’s show.

  • Bruce Feldman says:

    I don’t know about Rush Limbaugh, but I know of a composer who wrote an opera about murder by terrorists and romanticized their appalling acts with beautiful arias for them to sing. Gee, I wonder if his next one will be about pedophile priests or such. I can hardly wait to hear the glorious sounds coming out of their mouths.

    • Anon says:

      If you want to rant about all the bad guys who have beautiful arias in operas, please go ahead, it will be a VERY long rant.
      What about Shakespeare? To be condemned for giving Macbeth lengthy stage presence?
      Your point of view needs more thought.

    • David says:

      Opera has done very well by the likes of Iago, Klingsor, the Macbeths, Barnaba,
      Alberich, Melot, Pizzaro, Hagen, Clytemnestra, Boris Godunov, Ortrud,
      Jack the Ripper, Herod, The Nurse, Scarpia, Mefisto, the Duke of Mantua, Deliliah
      and many more figures whose characters are prehaps just this side of high.
      A few more of the same can be accepted with equanimity.

  • Graeme Hall says:

    To be fair on the concerto vs. symphony point, the piece is described by John Adams as a “dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra”.

    • joshg says:

      Rush made the distinction so his listeners wouldn’t confuse the work with Adams’ earlier Violin Concerto.

  • Howard Dyck says:

    “Deceasing” instead of “decreasing” is nice, even if accidental.
    Freudian slip or what?

  • cabbagejuice says:

    Throughout the Middle East there is no institution as sacred and honored as “mother”, the highest and noblest status for women. The veil is a reminder of modesty just as with Orthodox Jews who have their own clothing restrictions for women. What bloody nerve to single out the Arab world for discrimination and hatred! Obviously this Adams fellow has never set foot inside the Arab world in pockets still uncorrupted by the West where they would give him sight unseen the traditional hospitality that he would never get in any New York apartment block. Such prejudice and racism based on ignorance are really nauseating. Taking a 400 year old compilation of largely fictional stories, “Elef Layl w’Layl” as historical truth in the present is so ridiculous. As for strict rules, if people follow them, the rules will keep them. No need to dismantle a functional society as what has been done in Iraq, Syria and North Africa to satisfy some libtards’ idea of “freedom” and unleashing radicals who were also kept from acting out. The fact that the audience was clapping this travesty for two minutes is really shocking.
    I would really like for musicians, actors and other artists to get off their high horses and learn about real life as opposed to the spoiled brat, hothouse-bred, ego-stroking self-importance that comes with a steady diet of applause and adulation. I read Limbaugh’s article and as I don’t listen to radio shows I have little to do with him, I think he was treated very unfairly to be singled out in such a way. It is really outrageous. If he were there, I bet he would have been lynched. As it were, a woman in the audience said that she was horrified by this but had to shut up due to the pressure of those around her, really disgusting for “cultured people”. Ugh!

    • Robert Holmén says:

      In the honorable country of Saudi Arabia women are so honored that they are not trusted to drive a car in public or buy property without male relatives present.

      • cabbagejuice says:

        I really wouldn’t worry about Saudi Arabia with all their billions and their deep connections in Western economies and politics. There is enough lack of freedom in so-called free countries, starting with the encroaching restrictions on religious expression and conscience. I did regret the use of libtard in this context since George W Bush was frequently crowing about bringing freedom to Iraq, instead devastating large swaths of the country with radioactive residue from depleted uranium. The country became free for marauders to murder and loot. Thanks loads! The same tripe was repeated back then with soaking Vietnam in Agent Orange. If I were them, I’d say, keep your bloody freedom, or more precisely, license and anrachy.

    • Patrick says:

      I was pretty much ignoring this until I got to “spoiled brat, ego stroking, self importance” then I realized you were talking to me!

      1. I wouldn’t worry too much about treating Limbaugh “fairly”. The concept of fairness is foreign to him….on talk radio there’s no money in “fairness.” (And I do listen)

      2. “libtards”?? What is this, junior high school?

      • David J Gill says:

        Yes, libtards….can you believe it. I didn’t expect to see this kind of thing on this rarefied blog, but the blogosphere is full of this stuff. There are a lot of rude remarks to be found in comment sections, but specifically the intolerant political right attacks vociferously, but evades any reasoned discussion. If they rise above name calling they cart out a something from the growing collection of dubious pat arguments devoid of logic.

        These gems are being disseminated by Rush and others and repeated by the rank and file. One that has caught my eye recently is to call anyone identifying racism or making accusations of racism to be themselves a racist. Even if one denounces anti-semitic remarks you are presented some weird logic that proves you’re the racist.

        What does it all mean? As the recent Iran letter controversy shows Republicans no longer respect the office of president and much could be said about their contempt for democracy (Voter ID,) their disregard for the nation’s credit (govt shutdown,) and more. And of course they think Democrats have no right to govern. This is unprecedented. And our security, stability and democracy are at risk. It’s Rush Limbaugh’s attitude writ large.

  • musician says:

    I’m quite liberal and don’t really disagree with Adams on this one, but… I have worked with him several times and he has never failed to make various politically charged statements to the orchestra in rehearsals (inducing a full-on reflexive eye roll from myself). So it does not surprise me he would take the opportunity to do so in performance, even though it sounds like it was an attempt at a joke during his explanation. It does get old, let’s focus on the music, please.

    • another musician says:

      An orchestral musician myself. I have to agree about the comments. But I also know musicians at the Met, and the remarks found above about Klinghoffer seem to be misguided. Besides, the artwork itself IS and appropriate place for political expression.

  • Sam Michael says:

    His comment was an inane as his music is vapid.
    Mr. Adams needs to “create” a raison d’être.
    It’s apparent he’ll pin his tail to any donkey.
    He might do best to leave politics to the politicians, and just “shut up and sing”.
    His time has come, soon it will be over.
    Is he terrified his footprint will only be a footnote?
    I’m sure his legacy is well preserved by his art…or is it?
    Then again, perhaps, it has all been nothing but… “A Short Ride in a Fast Machine”.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      I wish the callous demagogue Limbaugh would shut up. Then Adams could devote himself entirely to singing. And we would exchange our impressions and opinions about his music here. Instead, it appears that even Slippedisc is unable to escape the nefarious influence if the far right wing cry baby Limbaugh. Have we no decency, Norman, friends here in thus thread? Please.

      • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

        My apologies for mistyped words. Let’s enjoy music today, whichever kind makes us better humans, even a little bit for a little time…

      • Southwest Cowboy says:

        Demagogue? Nefarious? Typical name-calling by the liberal, leftists who really have no idea what they are talking about. Rush didn’t start this, John Adams did. Rush is hardly a devotee of classical music, but he certainly isn’t the woman basher that Adams and many people on this site seem to think. He treats his female workers far better than Hillary, Barack, and other liberal cry babies. If Adams likens Rush to the Taliban, then Adams is sadly uneducated and misinformed. Rush has a huge following and has for 25 years. More people hear him every week than will ever listen to a note of Adams’ boring, over-rated music. It’s sad that in a supposedly enlightened, educated place like New York that bashing conservatives is so popular. They are unwilling, and unable to think for themselves, to be honest and fair. And yet they elect people like Wiener. Idiots.

        • MacroV says:

          I don’t know how Rush treats his female staff, but his on-air treatment of the likes of Sandra Fluke and others certainly makes him fair game for charges of misogyny.

          • m whitehurst says:

            Exactly! More than fair game! He has been married four times and has stated that: “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society. He called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute”.
            Limbaugh said Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, had exaggerated the effects of his affliction in political TV ad advocating for funding of stem cell research. Limbaugh said that Fox in the ad had been “shameless” in “moving all around and shaking”, and Fox had not taken “his medication or he’s acting, one of the two.”
            Rush has been addicted to prescription drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone. He was arrested on the charge of doctor shopping. The charges were brought after authorities discovered he received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months. Yet Limbaugh had condemned illegal drug use for others, stating that “Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country… And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” A hypocrite perhaps?
            And on and on…
            No kindness, no compassion anywhere in this man.Not exactly a sterling human being- to put it mildly! No wonder people clapped!

        • m whitehurst says:

          Rush is the biggest crybaby of all! Do the research!

        • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

          Dear Southwest Cowboy, please come off your high horse. Rushbaugh cries like a baby each time he is the object of a joke or each time he is called out in the way I did (The New Yorker carried a fabulous cartoon on its cover a few years ago – priceless!). Of course, he is perfectly entitled to spew his hatred on each and every human being he dislikes. But then he should not be surprised he gets to be the butt of jokes as well. Such is life. I am not impressed by your response. In fact, it reveals and confirms Limbaugh’s callous and nefarious influence seeping through everywhere, even here on Slippedisc, dragging the country and its culture down to the lowest level. Enough said, I now will listen to some good music, Haydn and Adams among the pieces I have chosen, and wish you a nice conservative rightist day, with lots of lefty liberal kisses;-).

        • William Safford says:

          Perhaps you do not remember when Rush Limbaugh would not take a call from a female caller unless he had a photo of her in front of him first. He had no such requirement for male callers.

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    Well, I wouldn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh on musical matters or to John Adams about political ones.

  • Brian b says:

    Equating the Taliban’s and an American conservative’s attitudes toward and treatment of women is pure insanity, the desperation of the whacko Left to find cultural equivalency and pretend that there is any such equation. Adam’s paean to terrorists that is Death of Klinghoffer speaks for itself.

  • john mclaughlin williams says:

    That is the sanest thing I’ve here read. It bears repetition.

  • James Reed says:

    A column with the name of “slipped disc”? About as brainy as a rotted tomato. Rush Limbaugh is an honest, decent human being, a person of integrity. This column, and the “conductor” are nothing but two piles of horse excrement.

  • Paul Henderson says:

    Long time hippie and classical music lover. The fascism that the American left has progressed to in this country is shameful. They have turned into the “man” and look at any disagreement in thought as grounds for punishment . It is as if they used the book 1984 as an instruction book.

    When did classics concerts turn into political mob rallies. I know the narrative of having somebody to hate is critcal for the modern American left, otherwise their personal enriching power play solutions would not be needed for these false problems. Sorry poor kids we have a teacher unions to look after, not actual students.

    I go to concerts to hear music, not the same group think prattle that too many in our crowd echo to show that they are part of the “smart” crowd. You wonder why classical music is dwindling, start with the preachiness of politics that have been injected to what should be a simple peeformance. I am surprised we aren’t required to show our DNC card upon entering.

    What had happened is as a country we have lost the ability for critical thought and asking questions deems you a heretic or guilty of micro aggressions.

    I remember when the American left stood up for actual liberties and wasn’t as a Eastern European friend who is a top strings player said, nothing like a white liberal crowd that is made up of the elite, telling me why I need to give them my funds and who the enemy is.

    • cabbagejuice says:

      Check out your spelling of “performance”. Ha, ha, such a typo in this context is apt.

      • another musician says:

        Reintroducing myself as a professional orchestral musician. And a very liberal one. He’s got a point. I want hippie classical music lovers coming to my concerts. I want everyone with good intentions towards the music coming, even if it means Rush Limbaugh himself. A lot of people like him already think concerts are stuck-up black tie affairs populated by closed-mined liberals. (I don’t know how it got this reputation, since so many of my schoolmates considered it the opposite of liberal because it was the opposite of Rock and Rock, what our parents supposedly wanted us to listen to). I think a concert hall as a common meeting ground for people who love the arts is a wonderful idea. When you hear about an audience cheering AGAINST someone for supposed beliefs, aren’t you going to tell a lot of people that this hall is not for them? All this gained us was Rush Limbaugh disparaging our art form. I’ve spoken to John Adams, he seems like a very nice man, and maybe he couldn’t resist playing to the crowd. But it’s bad that he was right about the crowd, that they would want to engage in this kind of pillorying. This isn’t Prairie Home Companion, where a remark like that might be taken harmlessly enough. What I’m pleading for is a concert hall where everyone is made to feel welcome.

    • jaypee says:

      This is a parody, right? This must be…
      “The fascism that the American left has progressed to in this country is shameful” is the funniest thing I’ve read in a very long time…

      • cabbagejuice says:

        I found that discarding terms like left and right makes politics easier to understand and discuss. A POX on ALL of them!!!

    • Anon says:

      Paul, the USA has no political left. What is called left in the US is considered center or slight right of center in the rest of the world.
      The US one-party-dictatorship (with a double headed face) is a success of applied Hegelian dialectics. Control both, thesis and antithesis, and you will control the synthesis, everything… Very smart system that serves the plutocracy very well.

      I always burst in laughter when I see people in the US start discussions about Rep or Dem. Like kids in a sand box discussing if yellow or red plastic shovels are better. Keeps them busy, sure… Meanwhile behind closed doors…

      • cabbagejuice says:

        Exactly, and there is a common denominator: politicians are products, just like cars, perfume or shoes. Tipping the balance on image rather than substance started with the likability of JFK over the frowning Nixon in the televised debates more than 50 years ago. It has come to telling the people what they want to hear so there are no values or ethics that either side are unwilling to break or betray. Money as in advertising generates more of the same. So what if arms manufacturers and users rake in the highest cash? Then you need useful idiots to fight wars on the basis of as flimsy and unprovable premises such as WMD’s in Iraq. Heck, the only ones were what the US brought in!
        The “Right’ in its ignorance tends to defend any military activity as stupid and destructive (might makes right!) as it may be as in Vietnam. The “Left” would rather turn the military into a politically correct slumber party. They are both bullies in their own way.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Waiting for his opera on McCain… LOL

  • E Cox says:

    “Anon,” if you’re going to make broad claims about what “the left” believes, why don’t you show the courage of your convictions and let us know your name. You might be a respected musician, a widely-respected intellectual, or–who knows–an angry, bitter person flinging mud around.

  • Alexander says:

    Of course Rush Limbaugh isn’t the same as the Taliban, but he described Chelsea Clinton, aged 12, as a dog. Whatever he may claim, he has no respect for women (or human beings in general).

    • Anon says:

      I think Rush Limbaugh is worse than the Taliban, because he doesn’t have the excuse of lack of resources or lack of exposure to good education and political freedom.

      • cabbagejuice says:

        I don’t know much about Rush, don’t bother to listen to his broadcasts but he seems like a bully. Re: scroll up to my latest post about bullies.

  • Stephen Limbaugh says:

    “Limbaugh has clearly never set foot in a classical concert if he imagines everyone is in black tie and a concerto is the same as a symphony.”

    He’s deaf Norman.