The Levine Affair: Who has questions to answer?main
A couple of decades back, when the Verbier Festival named James Levine as music director of its youth orchestra, I asked the festival’s founder, Martin Engstroem, if he shared the awareness in music circles that Levine had a predilection for teenaged boys. Engstroem replied that he had known Levine for years, and that precautions would be taken to safeguard orchestra members. No Verbier incident has ever come to light.
But this do-know-don’t-know was typical of the attitude of classical institutions towards a conductor who hung out in sweaty t-shirts and a cloud of rumours, none of them substantiated. Now that three men have come forward to accuse Levine of grooming them for sexual acts, at a time that they were teenagers and he was a powerful conductor, the worlds of opera and classical music are having to take stock of past myopia and assess the likely backlash.
Without prejudging the allegations, the organisations below are the ones with most to contemplate.
1 Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood
Levine was active at Tanglewood in the 1970s. The BSO says it conducted due diligence when it named him music director in 2003. The Boston Globe ran an investigation and came up with no story, at least none that was publishable by the more stringent criteria of the time.
2 Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia
Levine guested with Chicago in the 1970s and was music director of the Ravinia Festival, 1973-1993. One of the published allegations relates to Chicago.
3 Cleveland Orchestra
Levine cut his conducting teeth under George Szell in the 1960s. UPDATE: 3 cities disown Levine.
4 Metropolitan Opera
Levine made his debut in Tosca in June 1971 and was named music director in 1976. From then until last year, when he became emeritus, he enjoyed the wholehearted support of the orchestra, whose conditions he fought to improve and whose standards he raised. Two external incidents reported to the board appear to have been brushed aside. What went on within the Met stayed in the Met. The company has now commissioned an independent investigation.
5 Verbier Festival
6 Record labels
Levine worked with RCA, Deutsche Grammophon and Decca. An incident was reported in London during the course of a recording session, after which Levine kept away from the UK for 17 years. Were the labels aware?
7 London orchestras, and others
Levine recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the LSO. In Europe, he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna, often at the Salzburg Festival.
8 Munich Philharmonic
Levine was music director from 1999 to 2004. The size of his fee drew opposition in the city council. Some Green Party members asked about his sexual predilections. The appointment was democratically approved.
9 Columbia Artists
Levine was managed by the late Ronald Wilford, co-owner of the giant agency. Whatever Levine did, Wilford knew.
10 Peter Gelb
The present manager of the Met was Wilford’s protégé at Columbia Artists. Gelb knew Levine well and was press flak for him in Boston. In recent seasons, he has been trying to shuffle Levine into retirement.
11 The New York Times
Whatever Gelb knew about Levine was also known by his father, a senior executive at the Times. Many other Times journalists were privy to the tittle-tattle about Levine. None ever raised it in an interview with him. UPDATE: With the honorable exception of John Rockwell in 1987. Levine replied: ‘I don’t have the faintest idea where those rumors came from or what purpose they served.’
12 Everyone else
Hundreds in the music world heard stories. No-one did anything. We all need to ask if our standards of conduct were good enough and if our consciences are clear that we did enough to protect vulnerable young persons.
Well catalogued, NL. Heads will roll.
Yes, Norman is doing a great job with this story.
One wonders how much longer we must wait for the creep himself to admit his disgusting crimes and years of lies, acknowledge the harm he has done, and publicly APOLOGIZE.
These are amongst the best comments I’ve read recently about this, and similar, situation: there are far wider social implications than making accusations against people.
“Modernity teaches that freedom is lack of norms. Marxism started the notion that all cultural norms are tools of oppression from the establishment and that only by escaping those norms will man be truly free. This gave a justification for the cultural vandalism we have witnessed in modern times. Religion is the opium of the stupid masses, capitalism exploits the workers, men oppress women and sexual morality is just more repression. Little by little, all the cultural edifice of the West has been demolished and in the case of sex, sexual liberation said that everything is acceptable and equally good.”
What we’re experiencing now is the pointy end of that.
Remarkable set of contortions there, Sue. Pinning this on Marxism is quite a move.
Its a tragidy to end up creer like this, but why now? Everybody knew and kept on, its all about money
As usual,NL doesn´t do his homework,i.e.correct research.Levine was active in Tanglewood mostly from 2004 until 2009,as music director of the BSO,and also leading the TMC festival orchestra at times.I have a good friend who played with the TMC orchestra in 2006 and 2007,he has onlly words of admiration for Levine´s work there.
That does not contradict the above, and as usual you are whining.
I am not whining.I just hate unprofessional,shoddy work.I hated the gossipy,littered with mistakes,wrong data,wrong facts,”Maestro Myth”,and i hate this sloppy,amateurish,ünprofessional work here.It took me five minutes to get the Information from the BSO website.But apparently a feted music journalist rather spreads wrong facts than do the menial work of research before posting.
Levine did 2 concerts in Tanglewood in the 70s(July 29/30,1972).Ravinia wasn’t(and isn’t)run by CSO management.In the 70s and 80s it was run by the brillant,much lamented Edward Gordon.Mr.Leberecht,sometimes a little research goes a long way…
I did not go to any of his performances anymore….after 1990! One does feel the spirit of the performer in the music.
You may say you are not prejudging the allegations, but this is looking very like a witch hunt and I am alarmed at the way social media are being used either to imply a judgement or come very close to making one. This is a matter for proper investigation by the proper authorities.
There are no ‘proper authorities’ in this case. No crime has been alleged by the complainants, just a failure of duty of care.
That things seem to have happened when they shouldn’t have is not necessarily evidence of a failure of duty of care. In a large and complex organisation you can put all sorts of mechanisms of care in place and still you will not avoid untoward incidents, and here you seem to be levelling accusations of a failure of a duty of care at a very large number of orchestras, music organisations, individuals in relation to (so far) few allegations of unacceptable behaviour.There will, of course, now be a lot more allegations….
Exactly.Jumping the bandwagon,after decades….
Unfortunately, Robin this isn’t a witch hunt. EVERYONE has known about this for years…..it is practically common knowledge at this point.
“Known about this…”
Well, apparently many have heard something. But who really KNOWS something?
So far what we read, it is not clear he was not having sex with very young, but legally old enough and consenting young men. That is not a crime. It is a moral matter.
Apparently many of these juveniles were not abused, but were seeking contact with him repeatedly.
Maybe we get testimony from minors later, then we know more. But for now it is all such pseudo-moralistic outrage.
Yes! This is precisely what disturbs and alarms me. If jumping to conclusions before all the facts are in, before there has been a responsible legal investigation becomes the norm, the innocent can be accused and convicted of just about anything.
I am a former member (male, violinist) of the Verbier Festival Orchestra. I was playing concertmaster for one of the concerts at Verbier, and James Levine asked me to come to the conductor’s room to discuss bowings, etc. after a rehearsal. At the end of this short conversation, he invited me to his accommodations later that evening for a drink. (This was in the presence of his brother Tom, who usually accompanied the Maestro everywhere.) Upon arriving, however, I was asked to come to his room. Aware of the rumors, I declined and politely said that I had to go to a chamber music rehearsal. I later mentioned this to Martin Engstroem, who brushed it aside and said “That’s just Jimmy being Jimmy.” Anyhow, the entire incident made me very uncomfortable, and Levine pretty much ignored me for the remainder of his time at Verbier. I am aware of no precautions that were taken by Martin Engstroem or anyone at the Verbier Festival to safeguard orchestra members.
Thank you for sharing this. How old were you at the time?
I was 21 at the time (but was always told I looked much younger than my age).
So sorry to read what you went through. Hope it didn’t derail you from your goals. In your anecdote you mentioned another Levine enabler/accomplice: his brother Tom. The list of enablers/accomplices keeps getting longer.
And just what awful experience did VFO-Violin have? Levine made a pass at him when he was 21 and he declined, so what? Or should we also be “troubled” about that?
You don’t understand this at all, do you?
I understand moral panics and the apparent need to make everyone a victim of something.
It’s about the abuse of power. This isn’t a random come on from a random guy. It’s a person with power over a subordinate abusing that power to gain sexual favors. When you’re any age, never mind only 21, it can be difficult to stand up to someone who has the power to crush you. Some people can do it. They don’t even have to think about it. For others it’s not so easy. They are by nature or nurture inclined to acquiesce to authority or they are simply timid and averse to confrontation or scared for their own well being, financial or otherwise. Look at the difficulty some people have even speaking up to their doctor. The problem isn’t so much that Levine has a thing for very young men. This isn’t about a date that went wrong or crossed signals or social ineptness. It’s about a man who used his power and position to coerce and intimidate young men into doing his sexual biding.
Superb critique of what sexual abuse is. I think everyone can relate to this.
Don’t see any coercion or intimidation in VFL-Violin’s story. After getting rebuffed Levine
just ignored him which is different from, let’s say, trying to block his career.
“After getting rebuffed Levine just ignored him which is different from, let’s say, trying to block his career.”
The follow-up question: “What would Levine have done for his career had he acquiesced?” I think we know the answer.
That this young man had the strength and the character to walk away from the situation is beside the point. The point is that he should never have been placed in that situation in the first place. The point is that in such a situation Levine’s prestige and power is in and of itself intimidating and coercive. The point is that when it leads to being ignored by the boss in a job setting that is a negative retaliation being made by Levine. You can make all the excuses you want and twist your logic up like some sort of pretzel, but Levine’s actions were wrong and abusive. I don’t like the feeding frenzy aspect of the past month or so either and some stories that we have heard during this time deserve skepticism, but other stories, like those about Levine, are simply beyond the pale. I don’t think we need to crucify everyone who has ever done business with him or chosen not to know what they didn’t know. I also don’t think we need to throw out Levine’s artistic legacy. But we do need to be honest about the other side of Levine. Making excuses for his actions just enables others like him to do the same thing and is fairly contemptible.
Yes – thank you.
Stupendous comment, J in Boston.
Right on. So what? is the best response in many such cases. Making a pass at someone is not a traumatizing experience that requires years of therapy. Uncomfortable perhaps, but that’s it.
“I later mentioned this to Martin Engstroem, who brushed it aside and said “That’s just Jimmy being Jimmy.” ”
It’s uncanny how often this language pops up in the stories of sexual harassers or molesters. Charlie Rose’s executive producer, when young women complained to her about Rose’s come-ons, told them, “That’s just Charlie being Charlie.”
Several stories about Harvey Weinstein included his enablers telling the complainants, “That’s just Harvey being Harvey.”
Precisely. Kevin Spacey’s career is effectively over. The same standard should apply to Levine – although Levine’s already running on fumes due to his health.
So it is all about jealousy. They have genius, you don’t and you want to destroy them because of you can’t bear your own inadequacy. Thanks for confirming that.
Pooroperaman, you are being ridiculous. Do you think that talented people should be allowed to do whatever they want, and that any attempt to curtail them stems from “jealousy?” Do you extend that to the politically-talented Roy Moore, then–are those of us opposed to him becoming a senator simply jealous and out to destroy him because we aren’t him?
Oh, and “thanks for confirming” (your totally invented interpretation of what’s been said) is a weak-ass move.
All of these music organizations were willing to turn their heads as Levine sold tickets. Gelb owes his job at the MET to Levine, as his professional relationship with Levine allowed Wilford to pressure Bubbles Sills to hire Peter who had been booted from the Sony-BMG merger. Gelb was willfully complicit in the entire affair, as he did not remove Levine, suspend Levine, or apparently even talk to Levine by all accounts after he received notification of the police report. In order for the MET to recover at this point, they need to remove a number of leading Board members including Ann Ziff and Peter Gelb. They then need to move quickly and hire a GM and Board Chair with an unimpeachable reputation to lead the house forward. Perhaps Michael Bloomberg for Board Chair and Renee Fleming for GM.
Ah yes, Renee Fleming for GM so she can reinvent the house in her image — a crosspollination hodgepodge with nothing to show for it.
Fleming’s well thought of by her peers, has helped Chicago tremendously and is in the right social circles in New York City to bring money into the house. She’s an exceptional fund raiser as well, perfect for that job.
I’m wondering whether Tom Levine, his brother/secretary is still alive?
Yes, he’s a successful artist (b.1945).He lives with two cats in Chelsea/ New York.
Are you aware that Michael Bloomberg has paid out for more than one sexual harassment suit/NDA?
SAVE THE MET – at least part of your initial post is incorrect. You allege that Peter Gelb did not speak to Levine after the police investigation was brought to the Met’s attention in 2016. But Gelb made it clear in his statement to the New York Times that Levine denied all the accusations at that point so clearly the issue was raised with him.
Can anyone credibly question that Leonard Bernstein’s behavior in this area was as much an “open secret” as Levine’s?
Bernstein was primarily Gay which doesn’t merit bad behaviour though at one time it would. Clive James in his memoirs recounts some groping towards him during an interview with LB. CJ didn’t seem particularly traumatized as a result.
Whatever James Levine did, Berstein did times ten. More importantly, both were Tanglewood denizens. How much went on at Tanglewood in particular? Either Tanglewood starts cooperating or the FBI should investigate that institution at the highest levels.
That is a wild and unsubstantiated assertion.
Norman, while I’ll certainly agree that “times ten” is hyperbolic, Bernstein’s predation upon students (at summer festivals in particular) was not only every bit as open a secret as Levine’s, he was typically less discreet about it.
Barbara, we must distinguish pedophilia from homosexuality. What you call “this area” is two subjects. People are only hurt in the first, and the laws reflect the difference.
LB has nothing to do with this story, and it is quite obvious that sexually he led a wildly different life from that of the criminal under discussion. Assertive v. coercive?
Let’s not forget conductor Eiji Oue, who has been banned from Tanglewood for DUI after providing alcohol to underage boys (in addition to some other never-proven or investigated allegations). Tanglewood quickly swept this incident under the carpet; it certainly warrants further examination. Maybe some of these boys will come forward now…
Clive was an adult who knew exactly what to expect and how to handle it. Star-struck young teenagers have no such advantage, and can be scarred for life when such a person approaches them.
Yes, but when it comes to penalizing a man, the law is the benchmark. Possibly the law is not reflecting the realities well enough then, but if a 16 year old is legally old enough to give his consent and thus legalize a sexual relationship with an adult, no matter how old or famous that adult is, then that’s the law and we have to respect that, as far as legal consequences and contractual cancellations are concerned. I still haven’t seen a single accusation by a real minor agains JL in this developing story. Maybe it will come. Then it is time to weight that against the law. Until then, the emotional and irrational debate here does little. neither does it help the alleged victims, nor does it help to enlighten us.
Why focus exclussively on what the law is – perhaps consider also what the law should perhaps be?
Sorry, this is not Kindergarten. This is about real lives. And the US is a country with a rule of law, or not? This is also not about opinions. This is about terminating contracts. And about a lot of money. It is about a lot of people on the line. And accusing someone of misdemeanors and crimes. It’s not about what people think it should be. It is about what someone did, and if that was legal or not at the time it was done.
Bernstein’s long dead.
Never heard of Bernstein approaching minors; saw him with young men — not students or musicians, far as I know. Apples and oranges (insert inappropriate fruit pun here).
“Apples and oranges” how? Sodomy was a crime for quite a few years after Bernstein became director of the New York Philharmonic. In other words, you could say that the age of consent for homosexual acts was infinity. So it seems to me that anyone claiming that the Met should have investigated rumors over Levine in the 1970s must also, for consistency, claim that the Philharmonic should have investigated those over Bernstein. Why didn’t they? I submit that, law or no law, the assumption was that those over a certain age knew what they were doing in regards to sexual relationships. It went with being a cultured and educated person. Even if we know better nowadays, or think we do, I am appalled that anyone who loves opera can join in the plebeian chronological snobbery of applying today’s standards to an earlier generation.
Bernstein, to my knowledge, never approached minors. Sodomy laws in NY State were stricken in 1950.
New York made it a misdemeanor in 1950. Not until 1961 did a State repeal the law altogether, and that was Illinois.
So Paul in your mind being cultured and well educated equates to being gay or a pervert.
I have a PhD in Historical Musicology and consider myself well read and well published but I am neither gay or a pervert.
I pity you sir.
Why be negative about Renee Fleming ? She is fine artist and very nice person who over the years has sung many great performances all over the world from Bellini to Handel and Strauss plus many more. She has also contributed her time and energy to promoting and fund raising for opera/music wherever she goes.
Besides, RF has undisputed “star power” which is important to help re-establish credibility. She could be the bridge between the “old” MET and the “new.” Continuity amidst change.
Mezzo-soprano Rise Stevens might be the template — someone who was involved with the MET for more than 60 years in various official capacities, and who was admired by pretty much everyone over all that time (going well-beyond merely the musicality aspects).
Bingo, her social circle who trust me have big $$$$$’s are in their 40’s and 50’s.
We do not need star power – we do need people who know how to serve art with a keen spirit about todays problems and endurance to follow their goals. Most of these spoiled stars and managers from the last 2-3 decades are not fit.
Actually the MET now needs Star Power to survive. Bing had Star Power and made the MET successful. Gelb had no star power, lacks charisma and has turned the place into a nightly wasteland. He’s not an adept fund raiser and his policies have created morale problems. He’s done that before at Sony.
James Levine, currently “managed” by Tim Fox at Columbia Artists Management. If you look here – http://columbia-artists.com/?webid=2045 – you can see his upcoming performances. All of them at The Met and now each one will likely be cancelled. Levine has now lawyered up and Wilford, still with his thumb on the agency from the grave through his attorney will scramble to preserve the income. Gelb will likely have to resign now, to the relief of thousands and perhaps return to CAMI to make over-produced and money-losing videos.
Please. CAMI will likely collapse under the weight of this. Agents there are looking for the exits this morning. There’s a sense of pronounced panic. No one wants to be connected to a firm that protected a pedophile.
The myopia here about the potential fallout from this is quite amazing.
This is getting frenzied. Calling for heads on platters before any investigation of all of this is complete is such a knee jerk. Honestly? It would be funny if it wasn’t so alarming!
Lest we forget, the German intelligensia in its great majority joined up with Hitler and remained faithful and obedient, blind and believing until the bitter end. Any one who thinks the same couldn’t happen in Freedom’s Land has another think coming.
Just read some of this rubbish. How easily unhinged otherwise rational people can become.
You are wrong about that. The evil doesn’t require active acts of obedience, joining, support etc. to succeed. All it needs to succeed is a certain level of passivity by the majority. Hitler was elected into office by less than a third of the German popular vote. The rest was vicious power politics…
The same happens today in the US with their many war and under cover atrocities against humanity world wide.
Investigation? They know where every skeleton is buried with Levine. The politically connected have been saving his ass there for years. Note, Gelb did not hire an “investigator” until the Post article came out. At minimum,. he should have hired one in October 2016 after the police called. Levine is now permanently retired and Gelb should be shown the door along with anyone on the Board that covered up for him and there are several…..
Most Board Members at the Metropolitan (and organizations like the Met) are very very wealthy people who have little interest in running the organization and/or Opera itself. Nobody is being fired (particularly no major donor) because they ignored rumors that Jimmy was Being Jimmy. The Met is so desperate for money that they would have put Trump on the Board if he threw them a couple of million.
Trump previously tried to give them money. They declined.
Interesting–do you have a source for that. I can’t find one.
Absolutely not true.
Joke of the year.Trump doesn´t even know,what the MET is.
Now that IS true.
The only reason Trump ever set foot in the building was at the behest of his ex sister-in-law Blaine Trump who was on the ABT board.
Misdemeanours seem to have taken place but thus far it all falls short of paediophilia.
What’s recounted in the NY Times by the accusers is sexual assault, plain and simple.
It is their account. In the rule of law, his account also needs to be heard before coming to judgement. It is far from being obvious. These men at least volunteered to have sex with him for quite a long time. So I withhold my judgement for now until I can learn more.
It might be sexual assault. It might also be sex between legally consenting people. We don’t know. As disgusting as we, me included, might find the whole drama personally from what little we know.
Volunteered? That is a grand conclusion. Who feeds you your perspective diet?
Have you read the NYT article? One of the young men continued to see him for years. So yes, he volunteered. What other reasonable conclusion can you offer?
“Have you read the NYT article? One of the young men continued to see him for years. So yes, he volunteered. What other reasonable conclusion can you offer?”
Precisely: ONE of the young men continued to see him for years. How “convenient” to ignore the other accounts …
Oh, believe me — you WILL learn more.
Read Johanna Fiedler’s book Molto Agitato……..(Arthur Fiedler’s daughter). She felt comfortable publishing allegations against Levine in 2001.
He also spent quite a bit of time at Bayreuth.
In so many cases we are told: Oh everyone knew about this for years/decades. At the other end of the scale Keillor is sacked for touching a woman’s back-there does not seem any other charge-fir which he apologised. One would be forgiven for thinking that these are symptoms of a morally and intellectually bankrupt society
That’s just the point: There don’t “seem” to be any other charges.
We’ll eventually find out what the back story is — and I suspect it’ll be more incriminating than what’s been reported up to now.
No, “the point” is that suspicion alone – and that is all you have – should not be enough justification for firing a person.
That may be what you and I have … but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that isn’t all that Minnesota Public Radio’s investigators have.
We’ll find out soon enough.
But until we “find out”, we should not judge. There are several possible reasons for that particular firing, besides them having any additional evidence of guilt.
We’ll find out soon enough.
All the more reason not to jump to conclusions or rush to judgements.
… and as expected, here we are:
Two days is all it took.
So, you found an online article that said that a radio station reported that its unnamed journalists heard from unnamed others that at an off-the-record (Of course!) meeting that not one of them attended it was said that there were other allegations. Not a single detail: not a name, not a date, let alone any substance – nothing. This is very far from being anywhere near convincing.
People are usually hired without full court proceedings, they tend to get fired that way too.
It’s true that many were culpable, but I think we will find that the Met is in a category by itself. Levine’s relationship there was far more extensive than anywhere else. And it might also be discovered that the Met was directly or indirectly involved with a cover up. It is notable that the Met has not indicated if its investigation will also include actions by the Met or others connected to it. If that is not also investigated, the most serious questions will remain open.
It is also notable that the Met’s “investigation” is being handled by a law firm.
… and one wonders how much this law firm charges per hour.
What a wonderful and *inspiring* way to spend the funds raised from donors.
Bring on the business!
It’s pretty much standard procedure to engage law firms for these types of investigations. A couple highly elite private high schools, for example, recently did the same thing when faced with histories of sexual abuse. The big firms have access to the legal knowledge, secretarial staff, forensic accountants, and investigators to do the job. Their independence is usually part of the agreement. I hope the firm in question does a good and thorough job.
Thank you for explaining.
… And what fun they will have taking the cheques to the bank.
and the Met is paying the law firm so it represents them. hardly independent.
as for whose word against whose, there are three people saying that it happened. and there is also contemporaeously recorded information apparently. if that is the case, the law considers that very persusasive. also if any of the victims told others at the time, very persuasive.
Precisely. “All the MET’s horses and all the MET’s men” … good luck with that.
Quite true that their independence will be suspect. In the end, this is a matter for the DA, especially concerning the Met’s possible complicity and obstruction of justice.
I’m not sure you got it right.
Nobody really has doubts that *it* happened.
The question is, what *it* really was under the light of the law.
From what we have as accusations so far, are testimonies of one case that has legally timed out (and seen JL repeatedly over the course of years voluntarily) and three other cases that were legally of consensual age. It remains to be evaluated, other witnesses stepping forward pending, what *it* really was.
What is unpleasant in this discussion, is the precedence of faux high horse moralism over reasonable evaluation of the facts and some going as far as exposing their ridiculous moralistic puritan views on the table here and blaming all this on communism, marxism, any modernist boogey man.
It never was. But retarded crowds spitting twitter lines around are no excuse either for the decadence of a whole nation in moral and mental decline.
We are at the end of a society which thought it was the best, the most advanced….ha, ha….more will come!
Levine is solely responsible for what he does. It is preposterous to imagine that the Chicago Symphony, for example, has any liability for hiring him to conduct because of rumors (no arrests or civil suits) of his behavior away from the orchestra.
It wasn’t away from the orchestra.
I think we’re getting to the stagewhere the state will attempt to regulate (inter alia) male sexuality. And here’s what Jordan Peterson says about the right of the individual to a day in court. At 53 minutes here he speaks about it for 1 minute 15 seconds and it’s dynamite. Here he speaks to a leading Swedish journalist and writer:
As for Norman’s comment about us all being responsible, a lot of what Levine did started back in the 60s and 70s when the sorts of workplace policies regarding harassment were still 20 to 30 years in the future. Orchestras like the NY Phil, for example, had only begun to even admit women.
In the 70s, in cities like New York and San Francisco, there was also a sexual promiscuity so over the top that it was bound to end in disaster in many different ways. For one, it exacerbated the AIDS epidemic, and set it into virulent motion. Films like Taxi Driver and Serpico can give one a sense of that very broken time.
Times Square with all of its sex shops and crime was so dangerous you couldn’t even go there. The bathhouses and sex clubs were doing things unthinkable today. Things that were plainly wrong had become somewhat normalized. Tindall’s “Mozart in the Jungle” touches on some of this too.
I think this atmosphere probably helped lead Levine into serious misjudgments. As the dust clears, perhaps this aspect of the issue will be looked at, not as a rationalization, but to help us create a better society, and a healthier musical community.
This seems a tiny bit shaky in relation to JL’s alleged activities, which are more symptomatic of extraordinary repression, than the exuberant hedonism of New York in the 60s and 70s? The latter was a trailblazing celebration set in motion by Stonewall. Lets voracious sexual appetite with abuse of power.
should read ‘lets not confuse voracious sexual appetite with abuse of power’
Where it doesn’t line up is that there is an enormous difference between consenting adults and child abuse.
“…The bathhouses and sex clubs were doing things unthinkable today…”
The unthinkable things they were doing was… having sex, just not in a bedroom like they do today… before posting it on the internet.
But those were consenting adults, basically anonymous to each other and not using their professional status to gain access to and advantage over someone.
The bathhouses were the ultimate equalizer. As an ethnographer noted “There was no status consciousness in the social-stratification sense; the towel or loincloth created a sort of equal-status social group”. This is diametrically opposed to what is being discussed in relation to the likes of Levine.
Levine was likely more “powerful” than any other musician he made contact with at every point on his career. You can’t necessarily assume “abuse of power took place”.
In reality, the bath houses are all but non-existent today because of AIDS. As are sex clubs like the then famous Plato’s Retreat. In fact, Mayor Koch shut the bathhouses and sex clubs down in New York in 1985 due to the AIDS epidemic. And no one thought that was a bad idea except for a few suicidal lunatics. My comment isn’t at all about sexual freedom, which I fully support, but about what works and what doesn’t. I suspect Levine’s behavior was in part shaped by the Zeitgeist of the time. The difference is that his actions involved child abuse which is criminal activity.
if you’re trying to play “connect the dots”, you are one misguided and sick person.
What a ridiculous comment. Please keep your sex panic hysteria to yourself. And it’s highly doubtful that Levine ever spent much time in Times Square or in a sex club. Perhaps if he had he would have found a better outlet for his urges and left the kids alone.
The usual knee-jerk one-dimensionality of these types of blogs where there are many anonymous comments. Attempts at subtler thought are pointless. The point was that the Zeitgeist of the time might have shaped Levine’s behavior. Times Square, bathhouses, sex clubs, etc. are just some examples to give people a sense of the era. Because of AIDS that Zeitgeist vanished very quickly, hence the need to remind people of what was happening. The changes weren’t about sexual freedom, but having it and staying alive. But why try to discuss such things in a forum so conducive to crude idiocy.
Fair enough, though I assume you’re talking soley about the US. Interestingly , and not surprisingly, that zeitgeist found new equivalents in the UK instead (from the late 90s onwards): saunas, followed in more recent years by the horrors of chem sex etc.
I’m not well informed about the details, but the swinger 60s in London also came back to destroy some careers. I see some analogies with the Levine case.
What a sorry state. Fact check, though. Gelb was never Levine’s PR Agent or “flack”. That’s just wrong. Something as serious as this – anything in fact- needs to be correct.
He worked in the press department of the Boston Symphony, Gill. Part of his duties involved promoting Levine.
Gelb claims he was Director of Promotion, then Assistant Manager, at the Boston Symphony Orchestra (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-how-did-i-get-here/peter-gelb.html).
Gelb did not work at the BSO when Levine was Music Director. I not sure of Gelb’s exact dates at the BSO, but it was something like mid-80s to mid-90s. Levine did not appear at all at the BSO in the 80s, and only twice in the 90s — in 1994, when Gelb may have been there, and in 1998, by which time I am almost certain he had left. (Source: http://archives.bso.org/)
Gelb worked there in the 70s when Levine was a regular guest conductor
I admittedly stand corrected on the dates. Gelb was at the BSO from ’77-’81, during which time Levine conducted exactly once. So I *still* agree with Gill G. above when he say “Fact check, though. Gelb was never Levine’s PR Agent or ‘flack’. That’s just wrong.”
when did Gelb work for Wilford?
Levine wasn´t a regular guest conductor in Boston in the 70s,he appeared there only once or twice.Please,could you just for once do what a journalist should do,check the facts!!!!
Levine had 4 stints with the BSO in the 70s:
-4/13-15,1972:Subscription Concerts,Symphony Hall
-7/29-/30.1972:Tanglewood(with repeat performance in Brooklyn Academy of Music,8/2,1972)
-11/19-22,1975:Subscription Concerts,Symphony Hall
-03/24-25,1978:Subscription Concerts,Symphony Hall
Hardly what i would call a regular guest conductor….
Fair enough. Always better to show the facts than just complain.
For the record, Levine conducted the BSO 5 times in 1972, 1 time in 1973, 4 times in 1975 and 2 times in 1978. He did not conduct there again until 1994. Easily pulled up in their performance database. Norman stands correct.
I would count each run of performances of a concert program (Thursday/Friday/Saturday in this day and age) as “one” appearance, as, I daresay, would most people. So, for example, when he conducted Debussy’s Images for Orchestra & Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 from November 19-22 in 1975, that’s “one” appearance with the BSO. So I count five appearances with the BSO during the 70s, and only ONE when Gelb worked there.
This is a rather stupid point to get caught up on in this debate. But some people (I guess me included) did not want to let NL’s comment — “He worked in the press department of the Boston Symphony, Gill. Part of his duties involved promoting Levine”, which he deployed to support the notion that Gelb was Levine’s PR agent — stand as it was. Nor is he correct that Levine was a “frequent” guest conductor. (I say would “frequent” would indicate at least once a year, as with Dutoit these days, or Fruhbeck before he passed.
Are you including Tanglewood, Gelb’s main remit? I suspect not.
I hate to repeat myself…Levine conducted only once in Tanglewood in the 70s,July29 and 30,1972.Check the BSO website.Now that i did what´s actually your job, i hope you read it!
The point here surely is not really when and for how long Gelb worked at the Boston Symphony and what he might or might not have known/heard whilst there. The fact is that he worked as a Division President at CAMI during the period 1981 to 1993 when Levine was one of Wilford’s top clients. During that time, Gelb was close to Wilford. He was also close to the Met as one of his duties was as Executive Producer of the Met’s TV productions. It is inconceivable that he would not have known of the Levine rumours at both organisations during this period. He therefore had to know of the rumours when appointed to the Met. That being the case, his statements in recent days about what he knew and when he knew it, accurate “to his knowledge” though they may be in respect of the two specific complaints made to the Met in 1979 and 2016, conveniently omit references to the many other rumours or, as may well eventually be proved to be the case, facts. It will be difficult for Gelb to wriggle out of this one!
The 2014 Verbier Festival included Mikhail Pletnev, as well as the singer who was fired from the met that same year for having a swastika tattoo on his chest! This was all at the helm of Martin Engstrom’s leadership, directly endorsed by him.
I heard 2nd hand through people who spoke with him personally about his decision. It was something to the affect of “People deserve a second chance.” Child rapers deserve a second chance apprently who knew???
For what it’s worth, Levine was with the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia during the tenures of two executive directors: John S. Edwards and Henry Fogel. The latter began in 1985, the same year the initial victim who came forward asserted the alleged sexual abuse began.
The Ravinia Festival is separate from the Chicago Symphony. It has its own board and management, and hires its own Music Director. It higher is the Chicago Symphony, and is not subservient to it. So I don’t think you can blame CSO management for the sins of James Levine.
Sorry, meant to say “It *hires* the Chicago Symphony….”
He came forward in 2016. How could they know?
the late,much lamented Edward Gordon was General Manager at Ravinia during the 70s and 80s.
As far as I know, Lenny, unlike Levine, was not interested in teenagers – at least after he was past the age of 30. And the same is true of MTT. Many successful conductors of all sexual persuasions have been having affairs here and there, but Jimmy’s is a different case precisely because of the very young age of most objects of his lust.
We are bandying around terms such as ‘padophile, ‘very young age’, ‘teenager’ without any proper idea of what these expressions mean. it’s worth bearing in mind that in ,ost western jurisdictions teenagers about the mid-teens are not only interested in sex, but are legally entitled to express their desires (with people older than they are if that’s what they want). It’s a question of whether anyone uses their position to solicit sexual favours or pressure people into sexual activity they do not actually want (or to use some sort of ‘blackmail’ to gain sexual favour ‘or your career will suffer’ for example). At the moment, there are allegations against Levine and on this site an assumption without any evidence that the number is understated; I think we should be wary until there are thorough investigations and stop indulging in summary justice by social media.
“teenagers about the mid-teens are not only interested in sex, but are legally entitled to express their desires (with people older than they are if that’s what they want”
you seem to be confusing the legal status of the two parties re consent. The adult in this interaction is definitely not legally entitled to engage in a sexual relationship with a child in what you call mid-teens. The law protects the party who is under the age of consent but does not protect the other party, particuarly if the adult is in a position of power or responsibility.
for example, the following is the applicable law in England and Wales
It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 if the older person holds a position of trust (for example a teacher or social worker) as such sexual activity is an abuse of the position of trust.
Emmanuel Macron’s wife would in England have broken the law.
That isn’t actually so. Though the extract quoted by Laurie from the law in England and Wales is accurate, in practice it is more complex and the proscription on sex between people under 18 and over 18 is precisely related to situations in which the older person has a direct relation of trust to the younger. For the most part, however, there is no genral proscription on age-different relationships and, except in thoose where the older person is in a direct relationship of trust the age of consent in England and Wales is in fact 16.
Either someone doesn’t know how old he is, or Lenny had a 13 year-old over for drinks. alexander frey conductor
Geboren: 5. Oktober 1972 (Alter 45), Chicago, Illinois, Vereinigte Staaten
I was one of those young musicians who Bernstein inspired. In March of 1985, I was in New York to perform at Alice Tully Hall. Lenny invited me over to his apartment in the Dakota for a drink afterwards. I walked into his studio, he poured us drinks, and the two of us sat talking into the wee hours of the morning about, well, everything.
James Levine’s sexual abuse of children is a very well known fact in the music business, and the Metropolitan Opera was more than well aware of this….. Countless of sexual abuse victims have been payed off by pedophile James Levine. I was in high school when sexual abuse stories started emerging about James Levine. I heard these stories from different sources that James Levine was a pedophile, and how he had payed off victims. A member of the New York Philharmonic stated how sick she felt when he conducted the Orchestra. That is the proper emotional response. “I felt sick wanted to vomit”. A piano coach at the Metropolitan Opera who was coaching a friend of mine told him, James Levine was a child molester. and how it made him ill. The sexual abuse of children by James Levine was a huge topic in the 1980 s suddenly there seemed to be a hush about this. I personally never cared for James Levine as a conductor, and I think he’s repulsive to look at as well as listen to…. He looks like Porky Pig! There was an article about James Levine something about him WRECKING THE MET” the article may have mentioned the accusations not sure. Today too many people have careers because they are degenerates, like roaches they crawl in and makes sure to surround themselves with degenerates who are just ;like them. My Dad once said, “Evil doesn’t want to be tolerated it wants to take over”. I think the unmasking of all this vermin gives hope to victims. I especially want to add a dear dear friend of mine was a victim of severe abuse in the music “Industry” considered more than a great talent. so I say ROT in Hell James Levine and your kind.
More than Porky Pig, his hair makes him look like Bozo the Clown. I’ve always wondered why he kept it like that. Obviously, he’s bald on top. But why grow out the sides so wildly to which emphasizes the baldness and looks comical? Is this his way of being some flamboyant, larger-than-life character? Can you imagine being pressured to have sex by this guy with this hair style or else consider your career over? I realize the abhorrence in sexual harassment is in the threat of career loss and the presence of the coercion. No one should have to exchange their body in return for a career boost. However, this cartoonish appearance of the perpetrator in this case only adds a sense of the macabre, as in a film noir. How utterly repugnant.
I so agree, James Levine is repulsive, I can’t imagine anyone having anything to do with this creep! YUK is the first word that comes to mind when I see his face!
I understand the drive for people to be skeptical; but what infuriates me is when I detect peoples bias for protecting the powerful and famous over that of potential victims. Reminds me about about the Zander case; How Zander knowingly hired a former sexual predator/pornographer to work around kids, and then people came rushing to his defense that he was 100% a victim and scooted that fact out of their minds because ‘they loved the mans charisma’.
Several accusations? Decades of Rumors? The very physical look of the man? The fact that the people inside the MET leadership decided to cut all ties with him?
Anyone who is a neutral judge would be inclined to think that it is more likely than not that James Levine is indeed a pedophile and engaged in predatory acts. But yes, We must have a fair investigation before any appropriate societal punishments.
… and here we go.
Not surprised James Levine’s sexual abuse of children is considered common knowledge in the music world. People covered for him for years and there will be many more stories.
A long time ago there was a report he sexually abused a very young boy, paid the family lots of money. I think that we need a cleansing and the sorry state of the world is due to these types of people in places of power. Interesting article http://yournewswire.com/nicole-kidman-kubrick-pedophiles/
This could explain why the classical music world is dead. Very tragic!
Norman, the least qualified to ask questions -any questions – is you. It behooves you well, for once, to remain silent and allow those who are affected to do the asking of -indeed many- long overdue, hard and inconvenient questions. Which they can and will do even better without you.
imagine how disgusted the musicians felt when they had to look
at this perv by the hour, knowing full well what he had been doing.
and, strangely enough, like Lennie, Fat Jimmy has no beat.
I wonder if they also were disgusted with the unique sound and the perfect ensemble that he built and their recording contracts. Hypocrites !
First of all, people have known about him for years. I wish they would out all of the other people who lives in the same cesspool…..[redacted] X assaulted a friend of a friend at NEC and got away with it. NEC allowed him to “resign” instead of firing him. It had been known for years that he was a pervert and he did the same thing at IU. XX is no exception. Ask all of the underage girls he gets drunk at his parties in Aspen!
Victim number 4 – NY Times
Met Opera Reels as Fourth Man Accuses James Levine of Sexual Abuse
By MICHAEL COOPER DEC. 4, 2017
As the Metropolitan Opera reeled from the suspension of its longtime conductor James Levine over sexual misconduct accusations, a fourth man came forward Monday saying that Mr. Levine had sexually abused him decades ago, when the man was a student.
Met officials scrambled to deal with the cascade of accusations, emailing donors to assure them that the Met will be taking “all appropriate actions” — even as the opera house came under sharp criticism for not investigating Mr. Levine after learning in 2016 of a police inquiry into a report of sexual abuse against him.
The Ravinia Festival also announced Monday night that it had “severed all ties” with Mr. Levine, its former music director, who had planned to begin a five-year term as conductor laureate in the summer of 2018. “We are deeply troubled and saddened by the allegations and sympathize with everyone who has been hurt,” the festival said in a statement.
The man who made the new accusations Monday, Albin Ifsich, said he had been abused by Mr. Levine beginning in 1968, when Mr. Ifsich was 20 and attending the Meadow Brook School of Music, a summer program in Michigan where Mr. Levine was a rising star on the faculty. He said that the abuse continued for several years after he joined a tight-knit clique of young musicians who followed Mr. Levine in Cleveland and later New York.
Mr. Ifsich — who went on to have a long career as a violinist in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra — recalled visiting Mr. Levine’s dorm room one night to discuss problems the student was having with his bow arm. “And then he says, ‘If we’re going to work on your violin I have to understand you sexually,’” Mr. Ifsich said. The abuse began with Mr. Levine exposing himself and engaging in masturbation.
Two other men told The Times this weekend that Mr. Levine masturbated them when they were students at Meadow Brook as well. Another man said that Mr. Levine abused him as a teenager beginning in the mid-1980s.
A representative for Mr. Levine declined to comment Monday night on Mr. Ifsich’s account.
The accusations against Mr. Levine led the Met to suspend him on Sunday night while it opened an investigation into his behavior, and to cancel his upcoming appearances, including in a high-stakes new production of Puccini’s “Tosca” on New Year’s Eve.
News of his suspension jolted the opera world, where Mr. Levine is considered one of the finest conductors ever, and raised questions about what was known by the Met and other institutions that employed him over the years.
In the email to Met donors, Ann Ziff, the chairwoman of the Met’s board of directors, and Judith-Ann Corrente, its president and chief executive officer, wrote that they had been “deeply disturbed” by the reports about Mr. Levine. A recipient of the email shared it with The Times on Monday night.
“Together with general manager Peter Gelb, we are committed to a complete investigation of the allegations against Mr. Levine, and we would like to assure you and all of the Met’s loyal donors that the company will be taking all appropriate actions,” the two Met officials wrote in the email. “We also want to assure you that we will never lose focus on our artistic mission to continue to deliver performances of the highest artistic level to our audience.”
On Monday, some opera lovers and others took to social media to question whether the Met knew about troubling behavior by Mr. Levine and why Mr. Gelb and other leaders did not investigate him before now, given disturbing rumors about his private life that had long circulated in music circles.
Mr. Gelb, in an interview, dismissed rumors circulating online that the Met had reached settlements in the past with the families of abuse victims as untrue.
“Since I’ve been at the Met there has not been a single instance of somebody coming forward to make a complaint, ever, about Levine in recent Met history,” Mr. Gelb said. “And if you talk to the previous general managers about their watches, they say the same.”
“There have been no complaints and no settlements, and this has been verified by the Met’s finance office, our development office,” he said.
Mr. Gelb was contacted in October 2016 by a detective from the Lake Forest, Ill., police department who asked him about an official complaint filed by Ashok Pai, the man who accused Mr. Levine of abusing him as teenager in the mid-1980s. Mr. Gelb said Mr. Levine had denied the accusation, and the Met had decided to await the outcome of the police investigation before taking action. The Met began its own investigation this weekend when news of the police report was made public, and it learned that there could be other accusations coming.
The news shook the opera house Monday. The musicians of the Met’s orchestra met during a break in their rehearsal of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” to discuss — and try to make sense of — the accusations against Mr. Levine, whom many revered. They also applauded the courage of, and expressed sympathy for, the men who came forward with accusations that Mr. Levine had abused them, said Jessica Phillips, a clarinet player who leads the orchestra committee.
“I think the general feeling is of anguish,” Ms. Phillips said.
After Mr. Levine’s suspension, two important unions at the Met — Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents its orchestra, and the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents its choristers, soloists, stage managers, directors and dancers – issued statements that pointedly noted the Met’s obligation to provide a safe workplace.
Mr. Gelb spent much of the weekend dealing with the fallout from the accusations — holding an emergency meeting of its executive committee by telephone on Sunday to discuss its decision to suspend Mr. Levine and working to find conductors to take over his canceled engagements.
He also said that the Met was fielding calls and emails from people who said that they wanted to share information about Mr. Levine.
“In general, I think people are stunned and concerned, but at the same time this company has a very strong foundation that runs very deep,” Mr. Gelb said. “As important as Jim has been as part of the company’s fabric, he did step down as music director two seasons ago, and the company has already imagined life without him.”
Several Met board members and prominent donors, reached on Monday, declined to discuss Mr. Levine or the pressures facing the Met.
On Monday, the Juilliard School announced that the accusations against Mr. Levine had led it to seek a replacement for him at a concert in February that he had been scheduled to conduct of the Juilliard Orchestra and the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Of course the Met made no payoffs itself. If that were done, it would have been privately and with precautions to insulate the Met.
What kind of a filthy board member or donor agrees to such a diabolical plan? For the sake of opera? I adore opera (as long as it’s not onstage sleaze, which it’s been lately so I’ve cut down on my attendance)! But I would never pay off a victim of pedophilia or of sexual harassment! What kind of totally morally bankrupt person thinks saving the Met is worth this blemish upon their soul? What kind of underbelly snake is that? I guess if you already have millions invested, you want to protect your investment. Selfish! The sad thing is, the parents who received the payoff money probably spent it all on things for them and the boys probably had very little of that money to have for themselves when they came of age to enjoy it, making them double-victims and leading to relationship problems and trust issues with their parents. The whole thing stinks all the way around.
Also, remember that the ONLY reason this 1st accuser came forward was because Levine told him “No more money handouts.” All he gave him over the decades was some $50,000…Not pocket change, to be sure, but also not nearly enough on which to survive for decades. Levine earned a lot more money than that. The victim was obviously sometimes running into hard times because this was not a million-dollar payoff. He was obviously asking Levine for help here and there as needed. Levine stopped helping him, greedy thing that he is, even that small amount, and that’s when the victim got mad and went to the police. He may have even told Levine he would go to the police (or not). Levine may have said, tough, the statute of limitations is over and there’s nothing you can do against me because there have been rumors for decades and I’ve gotten away with it. Levine obviously never expected the local Ilinois police to take the charge seriously and still investigate him! Levine was playing loose and easy and it all caught up with him. Thinking he was above the law because he was so famous and gifted. I salute and say “hurrah” to the local police there in IL for following up. They may have never heard all the rumors, yet they followed up.
I really can’t understand parents taking money when their child has been violated in such an obscene manner! James Levine and his kind are the reason that the quality of opera and classical music has declined. Im so sick of degenerates. How pathetic it is to molest a child, what a low life coward. It’s a complete act of hatred and violence by a morally bankrupt impotent human being!
The feeding frenzy continues with an affair begun with a 20-year-old man when Levine himself was only 25, and continuing for several years. This is now called a “complaint” about “abuse?” Yawn. To understand these developments, one must read the late Rene Girard. They are like an opoid that societies in trouble take for temporary relief of their pain, and they are equally destructive and addictive.
From the AP wire
Met Opera waited year to act on sexual assault accusation against conductor James Levine
James Levine has been suspended from the Metropolitan Opera amid multiple accusations of sexual assault.
James Levine has been suspended from the Metropolitan Opera amid multiple accusations of sexual assault.
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017, 9:45 PM
A big question remains after renowned conductor James Levine was suspended from the Metropolitan Opera amid accusations of sexual abuse: Why did it take so long for the company to act after it was informed by police that he had been accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy?
The Met was in crisis mode Monday after The New York Times published interviews with three men who said that Levine, 74, had sexually abused them when they were teenagers.
The opera company said after the report Sunday that it was suspending its relationship with Levine, its music director from 1976 through 2016. As music director emeritus, Levine was still conducting and had been scheduled to lead upcoming productions, including a planned New Year’s Eve gala featuring Puccini’s “Tosca.” He conducted Verdi’s “Requiem” Saturday — a live, global radio broadcast that could well prove to be his last Met appearance. The first report of the allegations, in the New York Post, was published not long after the performance.
Those quick actions, however, came more than a year after a police detective in Illinois first reached out to the opera.
The detective from the department in Lake Forest, Illinois, first contacted the Met in October 2016 and said she was investigating an allegation made by a New York man, Ashok Pai, who reported that Levine sexually abused him in Illinois when he was 16.
The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said he briefed leaders on the opera company’s board about the investigation and also spoke to Levine, who denied the allegations. But at the time the Met took no action.
“The Met did not wish to interfere with the police investigation and thought it was the purview of the Illinois police department to follow through and question those who could corroborate (the) allegation,” the opera’s spokeswoman, Lee Abrahamian, said.
That police investigation slowed last fall, but the Lake County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman, Cynthia Vargas, told The Associated Press on Monday that it was still active.
Possibly complicating the decision for the Met last year on whether to act against Levine was the fact that it had — for decades — been asked by reporters about persistent, unproven stories about his sexual habits and had always written them off as the product of an overactive rumor mill.
As part of its Sunday report on Levine, the Times unearthed a 1979 letter written by the Met’s executive director Anthony Bliss to a board member who had received an anonymous letter accusing Levine of misconduct.
“We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges,” Bliss wrote.
Bliss also suggested in his letter to John T. Connor that, perhaps, the allegations were driven by a vendetta against homosexuals.
“I do not believe that the existence of homosexuals within management, or for that matter on our Board, can be considered a cause for dismissal,” he said.
Levine himself addressed the rumors in The New York Times in 1987, recalling an old story that he had been arrested “in Pittsburgh or Hawaii or Dallas.”
“Both my friends and my enemies checked it out and to this day, I don’t have the faintest idea where those rumors came from or what purpose they served,” Levine said.
Levine addressed the stories again in 1998 when they were alluded to in German newspapers after he was named as music director at the Munich Philharmonic. He called them “such nonsense.”
An author, Johanna Fiedler, also wrote about the Levine rumors in a 2001 book, “Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera,” commenting that inside the company “the stories were dismissed as preposterous.”
“Everybody in the classical music business at least since the 1980s has talked about Levine as a sex abuser,” said Greg Sandow, a faculty member at the Juilliard School and a widely respected veteran music critic. “The investigation should have been done decades ago.”
Gelb said Levine will not be involved in any Met activities while a lawyer hired by the opera conducts “a full and complete investigation.”
Andrew Ousley, president of the New York-based firm Unison Media that specializes in classical music publicity and marketing, said any organization confronted with allegations like the ones made against Levine shouldn’t wait to act.
“I would always say, be out with it because in this era of social media and exposure that the internet offers, the truth will come out,” he said.
The snowball picks up speed … http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/vonrhein/ct-ent-levine-cso-statement-1206-story.html
Sandow in 2004: http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/2004/01/dangerous_territory.html
Some of the accusers, when sexually approached by Levine, instead of acting like snowflakes, should have said something along the lines of “sorry, I’m not into that.” Or “your genitals don’t interest me.” Or “I’ve heard you’ll go blind if you keep doing that.” Or they could have started humming a few bars of “It’s a small world after all.”
Guys being approached by Levine should have been more assertive and treated the moment with mild sarcasm.
Meanwhile, Levine should have tried finding a person closer to his own age. Even a member of the opposite sex, as Leonard Bernstein managed to do. Even sire children with her too, as the New York Phil’s famous conductor from the 1960s was capable of.
A remarkably sane comment.
There are a few caveats : firstly the younger person isn’t always able to conjure up any of those phrases you suggest, especially if he/she is over-awed by the charisma of the artist. That kind of virtuosity in awkward situations comes along later in life, or bestowed upon more street-wise youngsters. Having said that, it would be worth these kind of scenarios being discussed in Prep for life classes at school.
Secondly, marriage+ children would only be imaginable if the person is bi-sexual as was the case with Bernstein.
You will be aware that in country like China there are many millions of gay men and women who marry because that is the social convention. Few regard themselves as bisexual. They merely do their duty since few can live openly as gay. That does not make them bisexual. In the recently published “The Bernstein Letters”, soon after their marriage Felicia Berstein write to her husband that she knew he was homosexual and would probably never change.
If he wasn’t bisexual, then, as the father of three children, he did a bloody good job of hiding it.
Fathering children does not make a homosexual into a bisexual!
Oscar Wilde was also married and had children. Being married ultimately proves
nothing about sexual orientation.
To belabor the obvious, children are most often not in a position to react that way, especially when confronted by people who have authority over them.
To belabor the obvious, these “children” were very ambitious in a highly competitive field and they believed that a liaison with a man as powerful as Levine might give them an edge. It is not inconceivable that some of them were sexually attracted to him as well, especially in the early days we’re discussing. It’s not an ideal situation, of course, but it’s a fact, and probably a common one hardly confined to classical music. Wouldn’t victims include those whom he shunned for refusing his advances?
Everything you have said is to the point. In the best of all possible worlds these situations would not come up, but I have encountered them throughout my life. I have always said no when I did not want to reciprocate someone’s sexual interest, even when the person desiring me had tremendous power that could advance my career. I am happy to say that I am a tenured full professor and a poet who has earned many prestigious literary awards. I did it my way, and as a result I do not feel traumatized. In the literary world we refer politely to people who use their sexual charms to advance their careers as “careerists”. But I do want to add that I never had and would never ever have a sexual relationship with a student, not even a student who wanted to initiate a relationship and was legally of age. I believe that to teach effectively the student needs to be able to idealize the teacher and the teacher needs to be able to idealize the student. I suspect that the alleged victims of Levine went against their own value systems when they continued to allow the sexual into their relationship with him and that while they revered him as a conductor, they were for whatever reasons disgusted by
him in other ways. So their feelings were conflicted and complex. One thing I know for sure: I will continue to listen to operas that Levine conducted and listen to them with pleasure. And whatever the Met’s decision about Levine, I hope they will not remove operas Levine conducted from the Metropolitan Opera app–that would be madness.
“The victims should have been more assertive and treated the moment with sarcasm”? Ah, it’s the victims who behaved inappropriately. Makes total sense.
Between 1972 and 1990, the Met did not have a General Manager as the leading authority. Beginning in 1972, power was divided between the General Manager, Levine as Artistic Director, and a Director of Production. There was a succession of people in the General Manager and Production positions, leaving Levine as the only constant in the leadership.
This might be another factor that led to a lack of proper oversight of Levine himself. It was exactly during this period when most of his misdeeds took place. The goat was guarding the garden.
In 1990, Joseph Volpe was given full authority as General Manager, and the Met returned to a stronger system of administration. If I had to guess, I would say Volpe read Levine the Riot Act about his behavior. Volpe likely knew many details, just as Gelb likely does. If so, they would have been complicit in criminal behavior that was likely still within a statute of limitations.
Small correction: Levine became Artistic Director starting in 1975.
Almost all states have laws that require certain professions to report child abuse (teachers, police, medical staff, clergy, etc.,) but as might be obvious, arts administrators are not included. Outside of child abuse, it is rarely a crime not to report a crime, but helping to conceal a crime is another matter. A person can generally be charged with accessory after the fact, or aiding and abetting, if he or she wasn’t actually present during the commission of a crime, but took actions to conceal the crime.
A special case would be the children’s choir at the Met. Those who worked with the choir might be plausibly defined as having a teacher/student or day camp relationship, thus requiring the administration to report suspected abuse or face charges — usually a misdemeanor.
The extremely large number of postings on this admittedly disgraceful topic regarding one individual has regrettably resulted in some anxious to get involved in the debate by dragging up the names of anyone in the music profession known or even suspected to be gay and others tagging thereon the assumption that therefore they have to be paedeophiles. Sadly this can easily get out of hand. Now the poster Anon has gone beyond the bounds of acceptability above in respect of Mikhail Pletnev (his post of December 4 2017 at 9.19pm) which he admits is second-hand information. Or could it be third-hand – or even perhaps mere conjecture?
This incident made worldwide attention in the summer of 2010. Having taken a major interest in the case, I dealt with it in this recent thread –
I followed that case closely. I could have made many additional points to add to my argument. To sum up, though, the allegation against MP was never more than that. With a good lawyer and a substantial bank balance – both of which he certainly would have had – it would never have got near a court of law and the world would have been none the wiser. Instead, he believed it important to clear his name. He therefore elected – note the word I use advisedly, “elected” – to have the matter taken to court. His passport was never withheld. He was permitted to leave the country concerned between court proceedings (when he surely could just have failed to return). Over several months he returned as required. At the end of the court process, the judge dismissed the proceedings stating there was no case to answer. Naturally this gained a mere sliver of media attention compared to the media scrum at the start of proceedings.
I ask Anon this. Who, had they been guilty of an alleged sexual molestation with anyone underage, would voluntarily place themselves before the courts, would voluntarily suffer incredible professional damage (at least in the short to medium term), would voluntarily attract such massive negative worldwide media attention when, as we believe might have happened in the case which is the subject of these threads, a sizeable payment would in a flash have made everything go away? It makes absolutely zero sense! And the suggestion made by another poster on that thread that it was actually Putin who made the case go away months after it had commenced is utterly ridiculous for the damage had already been done!
In one sense or another these threads have already dredged up Britten, Bernstein and goodness knows who else. Let us not turn this important series into a McCarthy-like witch-hunt of those who might have – or about whom we heard second-hand – or of whom some trash magazine said – or “come on”, surely he must have . . ! It is too important for that.
Thank you for that post. A lot of the comments above are completely unacceptable and indulge in mere tittle tattle when there are actually serious issues to be considered. Bandying around allegations of paedophilia and abuse of children (terms of dubiuos vailidity in relation to what has been alleged) is unhelpful and, in the caee of some of the posts here, downright irresponsible.
Personally, if I was innocent but I had the money, I would pay up to make the case go away. Just to be clear, Pletnev was found entirely innocent, but the mere fact that he agreed to go to court does not itself make him innocent (that is what the court case is for, it is the court which found him innocent). And the fact someone just couldn’t face the ordeal and paid up does not prove guilt.
A fourth person has now come forward. Reported in the NYT.
…adding more to the diffuse foggy unclarity which the crowd so eagerly devours to fire their faux morality chatter. Someone who also was of legal age by the time he had sexual encounters with JL.
What are the insinuations of pedophilia about? Unsubstantiated? Why there are no cases coming forward? Because there have been financial settlements with NDAs?
What a cesspool. Only losers.
Spot on,Anon!!!!You hit the nail on its head!
The London orchestras seem to have done well by unofficially banning him from London and the UK.
How many are there who #theytoo?
This reply totally off-topic, back to your “why I hate Debussy” stuff on Standpoint back in 2016, which I read today and did not allow me to reply there.
a) Music is by far the most abstract of all art forms, which is why creators have dragged in things like dance and words (singing) to make it more comprehensible. Having a theory of music is not necessary for great music. Bach had a theory of God and inherited a process for composing and he did pretty well. Hindemith had a theory of music and wrote a lot of interesting but generally unloved works. Talent is what matters, not theories, and Debussy was talented. That is took him so long to find his voice was probably from having to exert the will-power to overcome the academic arguments of his time that were not necessarily that different from your own, holocaust survivor’s writing not withstanding (and bless their souls).
b) Based on Debussy’s own commentary as well as your remarks, which were actually quite insightful despite themselves, Debussy might be better compared to the Cubists rather than impressionists.
The Cubists attempted to show a perception of reality from a multitude of angles of viewpoint. Similarly, Debussy delivered an admittedly completely subjective message whose “meaning” was then up to the individual listener to discern. He was not inspired by humanistic compositional dogma but rather by his surroundings (wind, water, sun, location, people) and his perception of it. This, not some impressionistic notion, is the logic of his music and source of his sensuality.
And if not a theory, he certainly had a consistent technique. He was the primary executant of whole-tone scale in western music and the first composer to widely employ 9th and 11th chords as melodic coloration vs usual harmonic resolution.
No matter the artist or their stated intentions, once the work leaves their pen and reaches the public, it is no longer theirs to control as the Barenboim remarks imply (although his conclusion is totally wrong). All art is in the eye of the beholder and that goes for meaning as well, and different responses are okay.
It is perfectly fine for you to hate Debussy by the way, but let’s be honest about it on his terms. He did not advocate for “pure music”, he advocated for a “purely musical expression” even when he was initially inspired by literature. Debussy was all about how the music made him feel. He would likely have (ultimately) been okay if it made you feel otherwise as long as you did not make a huge effort to put him down.
With this in mind, it does not appear that his approach works for you. Again, that’s fine, but I doubt he should be held responsible for all those composers that followed. He was much too self-absorbed to deserve that credit.
Best Regards for a thoughtfully written essay that I respectfully disagree with,