An arts writer ends his life

An arts writer ends his life


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2019

A fund is being raised for the family of Scott Timberg, a brilliant Los Angeles writer on music and the arts who ended his life on Tuesday.

Aside from his journalism Timberg, who was 50, wrote a book titled ‘Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class’, which is possibly the most searing indictment of American attitudes to the arts since Allan Bloom in ‘The Closing of the American Mind’.

His last major piece of music journalism was a magazine profile of Gustavo Dudamel in August.

Ted Gioia writes: I just lost a dear friend. Scott Timberg was compassionate and passionate, a man of conviction and values, smart and a deep thinker, and someone whose presence always made everything (his family, his friends, his community, the broader culture) better for his involvement. He was also one of the finest arts journalists around, and in a better, fairer world would have been honored as one of our leading cultural critics.

Scott Timberg’s brother, Craig Timberg, writes: His death by suicide shocked us all while also silencing a voice of tremendous insight and eloquence about so, so many things that he loved.

If you can, do donate here.



  • Herr Doktor says:

    My condolences to the family and everyone who knew and loved him. I’m not intimately familiar with his work, but I feel this as a real loss for us all. In situations like this, I don’t really understand how someone like this thought his pain was worse than the pain he was going to leave his wife and son with. It’s just very sad all around.

    • Tish Tash says:

      Obviously he did perceive his pain as so much to render escaping it superceding the considerable hurt it would inflict. What an odd reflection.

    • Bruce says:

      I’ve never been in that position, but I would imagine that there may be a certain amount of “they’ll be better off without me” going on in the person’s mind.

  • Una says:

    Suicide for those left behind is just as awful as oot gets. You simply never get over it no more than a parent does of a child.

    • Esther Cavett says:

      Tim Ferris once wrote the people commiting suicide are like suicide bombers as they take out many people with them: friends, colleagues, family.

  • Greta Beigel says:

    His piece on Dudamel is wonderful. Brave. Sorry I did not know Scott at the Times.

  • V. Lind says:

    Very sad loss.

    Worth reading his article on Dudamel. It is more balanced than a lot that gets in around here.

  • OM says:

    Thank you for posting the link to donation site. Because of high outreach of your homepage, it was very considerate to the bereaved family.

  • Sharon B Long says:

    What a shame!

    As a psychiatric nurse I know that studies show that suicide for the most part is due to depression. As a freelance writer I wonder what his health insurance situation was and whether he had the insurance he needed for treatment. (No national health insurance in the US; even Obamacare requires the payment of premiums).

    Freelancers frequently fall through the cracks; too much income to qualify for medicaid (health benefits for very poor people) not enough income to pay for premiums themselves. Even medicaid however does not pays very little for psychiatric care

    In addition freelancers are frequently in debt since credit card debt has become the social safety net in the United States but that leaves one vulnerable to aggressive debt collectors who are paid by how much they collect.

    [redacted: intrusive speculation].

    A former coworker of mine who retired, a real pillar in the community who was very involved in community organizations and had many friends, married for many years with loving children and grandchildren, killed himself and I believe that finance was a large part of the reason.

    His wife had had a serious stroke and needed a lot of very expensive care, (long term care is largely profit making in the US) Spending down his income on health care to the income level required for her to be eligible for medicaid would mean that he would be unable to support himself. In addition the county would slap a lien on his home so he would be unable to even take out a loan or get credit.

    Just some thoughts.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Clearly, the USA is a very underdeveloped country.

      When people see their future being taken away and depression sets in, and when they see they cannot longer sustain their family, it is understandable they want to end the suffering once and for all. Yet, it seems a too drastic action, but then, that is what depression does: blowing-up the negativity and blocking any other possibility. Surely there must have been other options, but if there is no medical help, they won’t be ‘visible’.

      • Mick the Knife says:

        You are so right. There is no such thing as individual responsibility. Its a 20th century myth! Everything that goes wrong in ones life is the fault of the country they inhabit.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Everybody is responsible for her/his deeds, but not for such illnesses, they are an automatic reaction to emotional strain, dependent upon one’s inborn resistance. There are people getting clinically depressed because of a tooth ache, and others getting through a life threatening fugitive trajectory from mass killings in Syria to Germany, relatively unscarred.

          • V. Lind says:

            A least in those countries they probably have access to health care, no matter their financial circumstances.