James Levine: Boston Symphony has its say

James Levine: Boston Symphony has its say


norman lebrecht

December 03, 2017

Statement from the Boston Symphony Orchestra:

‘The Boston Symphony Orchestra learned about the recent allegations against James Levine on Saturday evening, December 2. The BSO finds this information deeply disturbing and awaits the findings of further investigations on the matter. Mr. Levine has not conducted the BSO since January 2011 and is not scheduled to conduct the orchestra at any time in the future.

‘The Boston Symphony Orchestra adhered to a due diligence process, including a personal and professional review of all aspects of James Levine’s candidacy prior to his appointment as music director in 2004, and decided to move ahead with his appointment. During Mr. Levine’s tenure with the BSO, 2004-2011, the Boston Symphony Orchestra management was never approached by anyone in connection with inappropriate behavior by James Levine.

‘The Boston Symphony Orchestra is committed to a zero tolerance policy towards anyone who exhibits sexual harassment behavior in the workplace. All of us at the BSO remain vigilant in our commitment to fight against all types of inappropriate and offensive behavior, and to continue the essential work of creating a safe and supportive work environment. Behavior by any employee of the BSO that runs counter to these core values and beliefs would not be tolerated and would be met with the most serious consequences.’

UPDATE: Who has questions to answer?


  • Ungeheuer says:

    Nothing but empty public relations boilerplate/legalese. The clan that hired Levine for the BSO surely knew of pre existing pedophilia allegations. That they turned a blind eye is evident and are now trying to cover their dirty tracks. How disengeneous of them.

    • Olassus says:


      • Max Grimm says:

        Und ungeheuerlich.

      • ExBSOboard says:

        This statement may be true: “During Mr. Levine’s tenure with the BSO, 2004-2011, the Boston Symphony Orchestra management was never approached by anyone in connection with inappropriate behavior by James Levine.” However, Levine’s BSO appointment was announced in 2001, and I know first-hand that multiple times during 2001, BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe had been approached by both external and internal parties (BSO Board Members) regarding Levine’s alleged past inappropriate behavior. Like his counterpart Joseph Volpe at the Met, Mark Volpe chose to ignore the allegations and only did a very superficial review of Levine’s past.

        • Callanan says:

          BSO Principal Oboe John Ferrillo, who served in that same role for 15 years under Levine in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and who also knew Levine from his Cleveland days, warned BSO management about Levine before he was appointed Music Director.

        • bsoer says:

          I heard the same thing from 2 good friends and college classmates of Mark Volpe. I heard all of this when Levine was first hired. The BSO absolutely knew about Levine and chose to hire him anyway

    • James says:

      Easy, Zach…
      I see a vacant seat in a poor chimney corner, and on it, a straight-jacket bearing your name. Olassus(Gunther) and Max Grimm(die olle Gutrune) are in the same box,
      3 know-it-alls who know, how could it be otherwise, nothing.

    • Sean D says:

      Pedophilia is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. He is not a pedophile. He’s just a horny gay man.

      • A Concerned Clevelander says:

        It’s true, he’s apparently not a pedophile. On the other hand, neither is he just “a horny gay man”. He’s an ephebophile – attracted to pubescent boys. This may have been okay during the classical Greek or Roman period, but it’s not accepted today – and Levine knows it.

        If Levine was just “a horny gay man” he could have gone to a bar or a bathhouse for a quick pick-up. Instead, he carefully groomed underage boys, had his way with them, and showered them with presents to purchase their silence.

      • Dick says:

        I don’t really think your definition matters in this issue because the age of consent is what determines the legality of what has happened.
        I’m nearing 60 this year. As I age and look back, it is quite apparent to me that any person who is 16 years old is still a child. That child also deserves to keep his innocence and not be preyed upon buy a predator.
        Don’t just wake up and smell the coffee. Drink some of it.

        • Dick says:

          BY a predator, not buy.
          Voice recognition on cell phones are absolutely the worst for knowing which word to use in a context.

  • C Porumbescu says:

    *braces for flood of comments from people with no practical experience of the industry confidently asserting what people in the industry ‘must’ or ‘would’ or ‘should’ have known*

    • Philip says:

      Come on, this one was genuinely universally known

      • James says:

        indicating universal consent? Why didn’t you, Philip, sound the alarm?
        Roll back the log to reveal the maggot swarm? Untune the sky, open the cosmos?
        Prehaps one was waiting for the band wagon to pass….

        • Gerhard says:

          Well, I have never come into any vicinity of Mr. Levine, but even living pretty far from the USA I have heard about these stories. Since I have no direct knowledge whatsoever, I am certainly in no position to make a statement or take a stance. But if I would have been in a position where it would have been my job to consider hiring him for anything, I would have most certainly felt the necessity to clear up these things first.

          • C Porumbescu says:

            Rumours circulate about all sorts of people – some of them unfounded. Once companies start basing hiring policy on what someone whispered to a friend of a friend in a back corridor, we have problems. Malicious (often downright fictitious) gossip is endemic in the classical music business. And again, from what’s in the public domain so far, what seems to have been known in 2004 was that there’d been a police inquiry some years ago that drew a blank. How an orchestra manager in a city hundreds of miles away a decade later would be in position to second-guess that – to a level of proof that would stand up in court – is open to question.

            “Since I have no direct knowledge whatsoever, I am certainly in no position to make a statement or take a stance”. Well, you said it. I’m guessing that roughly 99.9% of the “everybody in the classical music world” who knew about this are in a similar position. Anyone who “knew” to an extent that the could testify on oath is culpable. Everyone else has simply heard gossip. Maybe the facts will emerge in due course; until then, we’re hearing a lot of being wise after the event.

          • Gerhard says:

            “How an orchestra manager in a city hundreds of miles away a decade later would be in position to second-guess that – to a level of proof that would stand up in court – is open to question.” Yet this is not the question which needs to be asked. The question one might ask instead is whether a manager who is about to link his institution to someone with widespread rumors of this kind has not the duty to go a step beyond “don’t ask, don’t tell” before signing the contracts.

  • herrera says:

    And … still no statement from Ravinia.

    You can be sure Ravinia management is lawyering up big time. This totally happened on their watch…

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    I wonder what the motivation was to file a police report well after the statute of limitations for both criminal and civil actions in Illinois.

    • Carlos says:

      A person that is abused experiences guilt and blames themselves for what happened. Sexual predators are very good at convincing their victims that they voluntarily chose to take part in the abuse. Add to this that, according to rumours, the victim in this case apparently received lavish gifts from his abuser. He must have spent years trying to run away from what happened. But then comes the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement on social media. We will see a lot of victims finding the courage to speak up now. For many it will be too late to get criminal or even civil justice. But they still have a right to be heard. Maybe a lot won’t be believed. Maybe some will, as the accusations against certain individuals add up. Some will be received with cynical comments like yours. But I applaud their courage.

    • William Osborne says:

      Justice. And the protection of children.

  • fred says:

    this whole things sucks and doesn’t sound right

  • DrummerMan says:

    Who, exactly, at the Met is going to “investigate” this? The Lincoln Center security guards?

    • Rick NYC says:

      The Lincoln Center security guards are way more qualified to investigate than Peter Gelb.

    • Cyril Blair says:

      “Mr. Gelb said that the Met had appointed Robert J. Cleary, a partner at the Proskauer Rose law firm who was previously a United States attorney in New Jersey and Illinois, to lead its investigation.” (from the NYT article)

    • Thornhill says:

      Probably more like an audit to try and prove that the MET did it’s due diligence.

      Or Gelb trying to make the case that Volpe and past board members deserve more blame than him.

      • The View from America says:

        Watch everyone rush to pin 100% of the blame on Tony Bliss, who is no longer around to point out how many other MET employees and board members were “in the know” as well. #TheyAllKnew #GeniusIsNoLongerAnExcuse

  • Jack Ewing says:

    Boston won’t be affected. But if the MET board has paid off his victims to keep them silent, as it has been rumored, this is the end of the Metropolitan Opera. That’s the real investigation that needs to take place, Mr. Gelb. Also, let’s address the 800 lb. gorilla in the room: James Levine is another Jew committing crimes against children and adults (as long as they’re not Jewish) and getting away with it for decades. They’re only 2% of the population but about 80% of the predators. Weinstein, Franken, Lauer, Polanski, Wieseltier, Hoffmann, Wiener, Louis CK, Allen, Halperin, Lauer, Toback, Dreyfus, Seagel, Ratner, Kreisberg, Stone, etc. They like to call white girls shiksas (animals). Read the Talmud. Talmudic law allows sexual intercourse between children and adult Jews. This doctrine is contained in a number of Mishnahs. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to be called anti-Semitic, there’s no such thing. These blue-eyed Askkenazis (like Jame Levine) don’t have one drop of Semitic blood in them. Total frauds.

    EDITOR: This is outright racism, mostly false. We are leaving it on the record to shed light on a previous post by ‘Jack Ewing’, who exposes himself here as an antisemtic troll.

    • Ross says:

      Do you feel better now?

    • Will says:

      How is this anti-semitic hate speech allowed to stay on this website?

    • The View from America says:

      WTF?? How did this stink-bomb get lobbed into the conversation?

    • Elisha says:

      Dear Jack “Daniels“ Ewing,
      despite your admirable effort of studying and becoming and somehow familiar with Jewish Law: I’m not impressed, sorry mate. Aside from your wrong use of the terms “mishnas“ which are strictly only applicable to minor argumentative units in the homonymous Mishnah (whereas they are properly called “sugyot“ in the Talmud), you are only right in recalling that Rabbinic Law is ambiguous and surely lacking much, according to modern standards, in the legislation about children. Yet neither the Mishnah nor the Talmud allow or encourage in any way sexual intercourse between adults and minors. They rather tend to neglect specific sexual activities in force of an older, in many respect still undeveloped legislation that heavily builds on social differences. Yet modern Jewish jurisprudence has emended since a long time these legal deficiencies that have always constituted only a gap in the legislation and never the excuse for sexual misconduct. It appears that this kind of misunderstanding rather lies in the eye of the reader—you—than in the text itself.

    • C Porumbescu says:

      And he almost certainly believed it to be true. Nelsons is a fine conductor but as an individual he is staggeringly, almost childishly, naïve. He is incapable of malice; equally incapable of coping with reality. It was only ever a matter of time before he said something in public (English is his third or fourth language; he’s not fluent) that affronted US campus sensibilities and the only surprise is that he didn’t do so sooner – for which I suspect his handlers at the BSO deserve the credit.

  • Billy Njilly says:

    so many professional players here and there have been asking each other when JL would get outed for the last few weeks; something has been building throughout the BSO, the Met, and all the freelancers in both towns. it was a thing that had to happen because it is so livid and real, what he has done.

  • Steve P says:

    Lots of deeply felt sentiments going on. And by deeply felt, administrator mean “please, God, let this not come back to bite us in the posterior.”

  • Joe Moore says:

    How much longer until Bill Preucil is outed in Cleveland? His record of molesting female students is sickening, as is the CIM, which bought off his accusers by paying for them to attend a different conservatory. All this was reported and is public knowledge.

    • A Concerned Clevelander says:

      Bill Preucil should have been forcibly retired years ago. In October he botched a brief violin solo so badly that there were titters of bemusement in the audience. His behavior at CIM has been disgraceful – although in this case at least the student he harassed was not underage. Still, a flagrant abuse of the student/teacher relationship and CIM had to pay the student’s tuition at another music school to prevent a lawsuit. Preucil has also been known to get drunk while on tour, which certainly doesn’t help the orchestra’s image – or his violin playing!

  • Cyril Blair says:

    And now I’m watching old Charlie Rose interviews of Levine. I wonder, can one predator sniff out another?

  • Ben says:

    The end of the Metropolitan Opera. Read it and weep. They and many other organizations covered for Levine since the sixties.

    Who killed classical music in America? James Levine.


    • The View from America says:


    • William Osborne says:

      This won’t be the end of the Met, but will hopefully lead to some major reorganization. And I hope it will lead my fellow Americans to reconsider their plutocratic system of arts funding.

  • Stephen says:

    Why are these accusations being made 30 years on and more? Where is the proof? I have known two people, respectable headmasters, whose career and lives were broken by allegations that turned out to be false – yet they were dismissed from their posts before the trials and never received any compensation.

    • The View from America says:

      We’ll just see if these turn out to be false. Just because you know two headmasters who were wrongfully accused doesn’t make every accusation of this kind suspect. Contemporaneous diaries kept by victims can be powerful evidence, as well as corroborating testimony from others who were told about the incidences immediately after they allegedly occurred.

  • Save the MET says:

    Levine’s brother became his constant travelling companion when he went to Boston. He was appointed gate keeper so there would not be any future problems. They damn well knew.

  • Marc Parella says:

    And when that piece of junk mail is sent out asking for year-end donations to the opera or symphony, what case do you make to someone to donate to this industry? Sorry my money is going to my local SPCA.

  • Tony Oberdorfer says:

    When will the media focus on Leonard (“Lenny”) Bernstein whose sexual inclinations were evidently as bizarre as his political activities? Guess nobody wants to ruin his 100th birthday celebrations and all the previously planned money-making concerts dedicated to his memory.

    • travis says:

      the fact is, leonard bernstein was far worse than levine. i ran an inn near tanglewood and he brought different young boys to his room everynight in lenox ma. we watched this for years and thought, oh no, we cannot be seeing such a thing, and never reported such a vile thing.

  • Morris Belemans says:

    Levine is basically a classical music Bill Cosby. Period. And the beanotown jokers knew it. They are playing the predictably american–“huh” “what” “no way”.