Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland disown James Levine

Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland disown James Levine


norman lebrecht

December 05, 2017

From the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) learned of the recent allegations against James Levine through reports in the media. The CSOA finds these allegations deeply troubling. The Ravinia Festival engages the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for several weeks of concerts each summer. Mr. Levine served as Ravinia Festival’s music director from 1973 to 1993. We understand that the Ravinia Festival is awaiting the findings of the current investigations and will take action as appropriate. At
this time, Mr. Levine is not scheduled to conduct future concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center.

The Ravinia Festival said it had ‘severed all ties’, with Levine, its recently appointed conductor laureate. ‘We are deeply troubled and saddened by the allegations and sympathise with everyone who has been hurt,’ it said.

The Cincinnati May Festival has cancelled the appearance of James Levine next May.

The Cleveland Institute of Music said: ‘The Institute was deeply disturbed to learn about the incidents which were reported to have occurred in Cleveland in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Cleveland Institute of Music is fully aware of its lawful obligations toward students, and faculty and staff are instructed in both the spirit and letter of our long-standing policies and complaint procedures regarding sexual harassment and misconduct.’

The Cleveland Orchestra said: ‘We are not aware of any complaints made during his time with the orchestra.’




  • Olassus says:

    Admit your crimes, maestro, and say you are sorry for the hurt.

    • harold braun says:

      I thought,”in dubio pro reo”,is one of the pillars of justice one democracy…maybe i was wrong.
      Fanatic zeal,hysteria,self importance and bigotry are on the fore in the US.

      • Bruce says:

        I would submit that the overwhelming and unanimous reaction of the musical organizations with which Mr. Levine has been associated, suggests that there is more to their response than simply knee-jerk reactions. It really starts to look like they were all aware of the situation(s), and now that the shit has hit the fan they are scrambling to get out of the way before the fan oscillates in their direction.

      • Sue says:

        Exactly. The pack smells blood and it is baying . Please watch the 1936 Fritz Lang film “Fury”, which is all about a lynch mob.

  • Itsjtime says:

    The jokes we made at Curtis when he came to conduct make me ashamed , now. We as students can be possibly excused in a certain way because were young and foolish…and most importantly blinded by what an important and tremendous artist he was. The administration that gave some of us the “wink,wink” deserves to be critiqued.

    I think pedophiles deserve the “special treatment” they get in American jails.

    However: I believe in due process . I hope in the future there is an enviornment and the resources for the abused to come forward and express themselves,so the future generations cant be hurt by recidivists.

    Mr. Levine may be too old and decrepid for the punishment he MAY deserve to be meaningful. But i hope with all of my heart that his situation becomes a cornerstone for classical music on which to build a safer eviornment for All.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      I have vowed to stay out of this sordid discussion, however…for the record:

      James Levine came to Curtis during the 1998-99 school year to conduct Mahler 6 in preparation for a performance at the Verbier Festival during the summer of 1999. We were the last “guest” orchestra before the formation of the VF-UBS-YO which gave its first concerts at Verbier in 2000 under the direction of Mr. Levine. To my knowledge, there were no incidents involving inappropriate contact with students during the visits to Curtis. He arrived by limousine from NYC with his assistant and left immediately after the rehearsal(s) by the same means.

      At the Verbier Festival in 1999, Mr. Levine was in fine musical form although the beginnings of his health problems were apparent. Although he did socialize with groups of students at a local pub after the performance commenting on their strengths and weaknesses in a jovial manner (as some reported to me), I received no reports of inappropriate personal contact with students most of whom were between 17 and 23, about 50% male and 50% female, and about 35% from countries outside the USA.

      Yes, as the commentator above reports, students made light privately of his reputation but were totally transfixed by his consummate musicianship including the accompaniment of Chopin 2 with Kissin as soloist. The Mahler was stunning but not perfect. When students brought up “the rumors” perhaps some of us winked and told them to appreciate the present and ignore the past. I don’t remember if I was guilty of “winking” or not. “Winking” was not my style but I might have said: Let’s move on…I accept the criticism if I appeared weak in the eyes of some students.

      I don’t know if Levine came to Curtis before my tenure (1980-2009). But, “ITSJTIME” may well me referring to the Verbier prep and performance.

      I believe that James Levine owes everyone an admission, an apology, and a request for forgiveness. We owe him a willingness to forgive but never forget, and our thanks for his artistry, however compromised it appears now.

      • D Cohen says:

        Wow. Just wow. Do your really not understand how your attitude of acceptance is what allows sexual predators to prey upon people who are not at the age at which they can legally consent? Your post is astounding. Deeply troubling. You, and your ilk, are the reason sexual predators prey on underage victims for decades. Please – wake up. Unacceptable.

        • William Osborne says:

          I didn’t read Mr. Fitzpatrick’s comment as in any way an acceptance of child abuse, or the abuse of power. To accuse him of that is is simply untrue.

    • QUODLIBET says:

      Re: your statement “I think pedophiles deserve the ‘special treatment’ they get in American jails.”

      If you are referring to prison rape, then get this clear: Rape is not funny. No one “deserves” to be raped. Rape jokes are never funny or appropriate. Not. Ever.

      Your statement is especially disgusting in context of your very next words: “However: I believe in due process.”

      Shame on you.

      • Hilary says:

        None of the alleged scenarios which have come to light (four so far) match the description “padeophilia”. This is quite specific to pre-pubescent individuals.

  • Eléazar says:

    This is only the beginning, I think the coming week/months more victims will come out of the shadows and there will be resignations and firings from these organizations as they attempt to save face. I predict this will send greater shockwaves throughout the music world than the Sandusky/Penn State scandal did throughout the football world.
    May the victims find comfort and peace in the act of speaking up after years of shame and silence.

  • David says:

    Everybody knew so why now,it is cold nudells

  • John Borstlap says:

    Now that every possible rock is turned to expose such distasteful behavior of people ‘running’ classical music, also little rocks with probably not much underneath, it is to be expected that the status / reputation of the art form, in fact: the entire central performance culture of serious music, is further damaged, adding generously to the many teeth already exercised by the philistines. One can hear already the screams of ‘You see??’ among the populist masses green with jealousy about the ‘luxuries of the elites’. The immense irresponsibility of predator artists and management covering-up their deeds is entirely suicidal, and what will suffer in the end, is the art form itself and all the loyal and decent musicians and staff working their tail off to keep the art form going.

    It all looks a bit like the scandals which rocked the roman catholic church in the 16th century, leading to the reformation. Hopefully such reform will also be the result of this distasteful mess.

    • Nemesis says:

      Reform of the conducting “profession” cannot come soon enough – what a parade of over-hyped and overpaid charlatans we can see on what are supposed to be the great stages of the world. It is poor conducting that is killing music as is perfectly obvious to anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see. Unfortunately the status quo is allowed to fester for all kinds of shady reasons , none of which have anything to do with art.

  • KKLMH says:

    Who will be next? I have my suspicions, but I won’t disclose at this time, because, libel laws.

  • jaura says:

    I hate JL and I am so relieved that I never have to see him again. It has been decades of torture.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’m going to venture a reason for the chronic denial among people who were aware of “rumors” was the dissonance between the presentation of the excellent musician they saw and worked with versus the totally criminal, monstrous image that anything “homosexual”, consenting-legal-age or not, had among the public in the 60s and 70 and even the 80s.

    Add that to the general denial that the victims could truly be unwilling victims and you have a situation where no one makes the first move to fix a problem.

  • Adam Hollander says:

    Mr. Fitzpatrick: i hope you are well!
    After that concert in Switzerland, Levine showed up at my Chalet and came into my room, alone. During the concert he came and sat with me in the oboe section for Kissin’s stunning encore….unusual…

    I chatted with him for @ 1 minute about the concert , in my room. I had been uncomfortable since the moment he came in, but not threatened. So I invited him to the bar and we went together to meet the rest of the orch.
    I was 19 at the time. I was sure I had no interest in him sexually, so i got him out of my room, comfortably.

    As to the concert being not-perfect…probabaly my fault ;).

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Hey Adam,

      I knew almost all of that story except the fact that he came to the chalet. You told me about his musical comments which were colorful, to say the least, when he was with you and the other orchestra members. Little accidents happen in any student orchestra (and sometimes with pros, too). The performance was memorable globally. I remember him sitting in the orchestra for the encore but didn’t realize that he was next to you because I was sitting in the first row.

      I think this shows the difference between you at 19 and the others who were much younger when the pattern began. Many of us look back now and wonder what we could have, should have done knowing his predatory instincts. Thanks for revealing this moment which brings great credit you and much less to the rest of us.

      I still repeat what I said above:

      I believe that James Levine owes everyone an admission, an apology, and a request for forgiveness. We owe him a willingness to forgive but never forget, and our thanks for his artistry, however compromised it appears now.

      Hope you’re well, Adam, in spite of the difficulties cited and not cited.

  • Adam says:

    Cheers from Norway, Mr. Fitzpatrick! All is goin swimmingly.
    You made some solid points.