So James Levine got married

So James Levine got married


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2021

A statement by James Levine’s agent informed US media that the conductor, who has died aged 77, is ‘survived by wife Suzanne Thomson, his longtime companion whom he married last year’.

The sources of this statement is Andrea Anson, formerly of Columbia Artists and, since that agency collapseed, working with its former CEO Tim Fox at their start-up, Promethean Artists. Fox was Ronald Wilford’s successor at Columbia.

Levine’s friendship with Thomson dates back to 1967 when they became flatmates. He would mention her existence if journalists asked about his bachelor status and his well-known liking for young males.

The Levine marriage will have estate implications.

Also in the obituary notices is this:

A not-for-profit trust has been established to support and encourage the continuing classical music culture in America. Memorial donations may be directed to The James L. Levine Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 3542, New York, NY 10008.



  • Sharon says:

    I have no doubt that Thomson had a mash on him for many years and put up with a lot of crap in spite of Levine continually praising her publicly.

    Not only is this protecting his assets from the Internal Revenue Service, the US tax bureau, but he may have wanted to thank her for her loyalty. There is certainly no living person more deserving of his assets than her; it is unlikely that he would have gotten as far as he did without her.

    • david hilton says:

      Marrying someone in the US does not automatically have any major tax consequence, and it certainly does not give the new spouse any claim on the assets of the other. UNLESS, the deceased spouse died intestate, i.e, without a will. That seems unlikely in Levine’s case. Instead, his assets will go to whomever he bequeathed them to in his will. That might be his widow, certainly. Equally, it might not be.

      • Anonymous says:

        It has significant tax consequences. Transfers of property between spouses are exempt from tax at the Federal level and generally at the state level, as well. Filing as a married couple also generally provides a lower Federal tax rate when there is a significant disparity in the earnings of the the spouses, which would probably be the case here had they married during Levine’s earning years.

    • Jan Kaznowski says:

      Boulez famously never made a will – and of course never married. So the tax man would have had a good share. Apparently his siblings had to flog the big house in Baden Baden to help with death duties.

    • Misky says:

      “There is certainly no living person more deserving of his assets than her…”

      Perhaps some of the many young men who have come forward over the decades accusing him of sexual misconduct while in a position of power over them?

    • Fedd says:

      We will have to separate our opinions of Levine the person from our opinions of Levine the artist and conductor. As an artist and conductor, he was of the first order. Our musical institutions and, especially, the Met, owe him a debt of gratitude. We were blessed to have had him in the pit for many beautiful performances and for so long. He has left us with a gold mine of recordings and videos and for that we must be most grateful.

      • monika says:

        Yes, we were blessed to have him in the pit.thanks for this, Fedd..Great Musician.

      • leo grinhauz says:

        In the end, none of his “contributions “ matter; a sick man feeding his avarice. Which is basically what “great” artists do. They care not about the “art” nor do they care about the public. They have more in common with pornographers than seraphs. The great white western embrace of all things “artistic” is nothing but artificial, empty and meaningless. May i suggest a walk in the woods to gain a little waldesruhe. Oh, oh, what was that about Dvorak’s string quartet?

      • Steinway says:

        No we don’t.

    • Roger says:

      So basically tax fraud?

    • musicman says:

      On the other hand, one could argue that she knew what he was doing all of these years and turned her head. Should she get paid for enabling him to keep abusing? You could consider her to be a gold digger who is getting a huge payout for covering his ass for decades.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Yes, that’s my feeling exactly. They loved each other and there are, of course, many different kinds of love.

    • Nijinsky says:

      To start such a speculation, which you’re incapable of being objective about not really knowing either party, with “I have no doubt,” and then fill in the blanks with more stuff that sounds reasonable for anyone else that wouldn’t be able to know, but feels the need to stroke their sense of decency and pride with thinking they have found it…..

      This might need some counterpoint…..

      If she is so deserving of his assets, and knew him for so many years, why did he have the problems that he did, problems which we all know about more than how one helps such a person given the whole media frenzy needing a bad guy to have such problem, which I hardly think is something Mr. Levine was making himself happy by continuing with.

      I’m not even saying she isn’t deserving of his assets, and that it wasn’t a smart move to take care that she would receive them, nor that she didn’t want to help him.

      But to paint her as the all giving saint that gave her all is a bit too much like a pretentious fairy tale that does service to neither character, and in the attempt to compliment her insults her and leaves her devoid of any depth….

    • Tim says:

      What do you mean by “a mash on”?

    • Steinway says:

      No living person more deserving of his assets?
      How about all the people he sexually abused over the years ?
      The man was a monster that was enabled by all the esteemed institutions that looked the other way.

      • Bone says:

        No, he wasn’t a monster. Have you even read the accusations? Maybe a fetishist at worst – which should endear him to the trans community in perpetuity.

  • sam says:

    “The Levine marriage will have estate implications.”

    Why, you were expecting a bequeathal?

  • Alex says:

    Tim Fox’s company is called AMP.

  • Gustavo says:

    Thomson, Dick and Harry.

  • Suh says:

    The. Gets. Weirder.

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Played “Fidelio” with Levine on 16. December, 1970, Beethoven’s 200th birthday. At the first rehearsal, we
    launched into the second act, with the ethereal oboe solo,
    played by Suzanne Thomson…. For me, it was exquisite beyond what one might have imagined….the mind boggled….

    • Ray says:

      I was there, too, and though we’re both anonymous here, it’s good to hear a voice from those Cleveland years.

  • Zandonai says:

    I would donate to the James L. Levine Charitable Foundation.

  • Truck Shankheim says:

    Who cares? Love most of your content but Norm let’s be honest this Levine stuff is bogus. Back to the stories we all love about declining ticket sales and expert vaccine reports!


  • Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

    I am displeased with the duplicity and hypocrisy of those who control the music (as it is called) industry. The entire sex thing in modern life is completely out of control. Accusations of impropriety seem often to follow the behavior protocol expected of Pocahontas and John Smith. The problems are definition, egalitarian punishment, imbalance in witness certification, trial by public opinion, and many others. But there is no excuse for what happened to James Levine. He was first accused of unacceptable behavior sometime in the early 2000s ( I have not checked the exactitude of my dates), but in the music world itself things are often known long before they become known to the public. In this case, however, I and a female friend of mine who will forever be nameless but who was in a position to know, encounters of a nature and substance of what Levine was later accused of in the 2000s had occurred (been occurring) in the 1980sor1990s and had been covered up—paid for—by the Met or people doing the Met‘s bidding. One of my this up not because I want to show that I KNOW but rather because if dealt with through counseling and not this inexcusable brouhaha that occurred and destroyed Levine‘s life he might be alive and conducting this very evening. This sort of thing is occurring constantly. The Predident of Rider has, in contravention of all that is good and just and fair has destroyed Weszminster Choir College. Leaving aside its artistic importance, it is like taking a blow torch to the Eiffel Tower and replacing it with a LaCrosse field. These doctorates in how to direct things (I may not know Homeric Greek but I can tell you how to teach it).

  • Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

    1980s or 1990s
    Im sorry for memory mistake(s)

  • Tom Phillips says:

    She is what is commonly referred to as a “beard”.

  • Karlo says:

    His well known ‘liking’ of young males? Was Germany on vacation from ‘reason and compassion’ from 1933-1945….or are we just having a ‘misunderstanding’ of massive semantic proportions.

    James Levine was a predatory pedophile who was musically talented and used his power in atrocious ways to cover up his crimes.

  • fflambeau says:

    It is very likely that his “wife” was complicit in his actions and enabled him to do more. Sad. Especially since she now reaps financial rewards.

  • fflambeau says:

    Sounds like a gay man who could not face up to being gay: the worst kind and often violent.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Nope, not a “gay man”, but a powerful pedophile predator, according to the many, many reports we’ve read. There is a difference between these two categories.

      • Crocklehead says:

        Yes, thanks for pointing that out. Gay does NOT equal pedophile, although it seems the het community has never understood this.

  • James Weiss says:

    Now I’ve heard everything.

  • Yon says:

    Why this guy always cooks up pitiable maestro?

  • Thomas M says:

    Lenny Bernstein was married, too. 😉

  • Sharon says:

    Do you think that Thomson will write a book?

  • George says:

    As much as I condemn what I’ve heard about James Levine’s actions, I still don’t understand, why some of his strongest accusers let him have “hundreds of encounters”, and wrote to him things like “I want access” and “PS: I love you”.

    • Sharon says:

      He could be very charismatic; that was part of the reason why he was such a good conductor. Also, he promised career advancement to those who had no other real means of professional advancement although he seldom delivered.
      As far as those who continued to chase him were concerned, he was an expert at sensing who would be the most vulnerable and psychologically needy. Yes, those types would be least likely to reject him, which was probably why he focused on the young and inexperienced, but they also could become very needy and clingy. Also in a sexual relationship many, perhaps most women, and vulnerable men tend to feel “You owe me”.
      Right now I am trying to mentor and provide some financial support to a student from a very difficult background. Although in this case it is nothing sexual I am still taking a lesson from Levine’s sad story and deliberately keeping her at somewhat of an arms length from the very beginning. I do not want her to become emotionally or professionally (she is training in my field) dependent on me. Apart from the emotional drain that would cause for myself I would not want her to feel betrayed or that I let her down if I have to deny her something or if she feels that I refused to meet some perceived need, emotional or financial.

    • Quest says:

      George, with all respect, the psychology of abuse victims and the complexity of careers entangled with an abuser of immense power, the victim’s behavior you describe perhaps serves to illustrate the degree and treachery of the abuse. I’m not saying the situation was handled correctly. I wouldn’t know. I know only that it is tragic.

  • Walter says:

    I’m starting the James Levine Child Molester Charitable Fund…….any donors out there? Levine’s estate should go to victims of child and sexual abuse. And the sooner he is forgotten, the better. He was an overrated conductor with a lot of chutzpah and power. He did turn the MET orchestra into a superb ensemble, that much I’ll give him. A pathetic and disgusting excuse of a human being.

  • While Levine was alive it was correct and mandatory to expose his behavior and condemn him. But he is dead now and we can’t teach him a lesson. The same applies to Richard Wagner who is detested by many for his anti Semitism. Now that they are dead, all we have are their artistic legacies which we can and should appreciate on their own independent from their creator ‘s sins.

    • Oh, no! We should ban the performance of Wagner’s works everywhere in the world, reduce every one of his printed scores to burnt-out ashes, and pay people to turn in their recordings of his works to their local police station — and that includes the electronic equipment (computers, cell phones, etc.) on which his music is stored.

      As to Levine, the Met should burn an effigy of him (to the music of the auto-da-fey scene from Verdi’s Don Carlo) on Lincoln Plaza every year as a part of its opening night ceremonies, with the New York State Legislature passing a law mandating the same. Finally, Peter Gelb should belatedly be a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and given the Congressional Medal of Freedom for having fired Levine from the Met.

      {TRANSLATION FOR THE OBTUSE: Satire, in response to those individuals who have the compulsion to write over-the-top criticisms (to the exclusion of everything else) in response to death notices, so that they can demonstrate their purity and piety to unknown thousands of readers.]

      Yes, James Levine was far from a perfect human being. But one hundred years from now, if the Met and classical music are still around — and If there is any justice — this time period in the Met’s history will be known as the Age of Levine and Not the Age of Gelb.

      So, as you have written, in Levine’s death, let us be thankful for the good that this man’s genius has left behind rather than solely and endlessly flog a dead horse.

    • Sharon says:

      One of my hobbies is reading biography and also indie theater that pertains to biography or relationships because there is so much one can apply to one’s own life from reading about the mistakes of others.
      This is also one of the reasons why people study the Bible. Many believe that G*d or antiquity chose those stories about human failing that contained the most important lessons for human conduct.

      I believed that one of the main things that distinguishes humans from animals is that we can learn from the experiences of others without having to experience something ourselves.

      In Levine’s case we we can learn important lessons from his sad story and thus that story needs to be repeated. I myself have done this (see above).

      However, I agree it needs to be done respectfully and with compassion. I confess that I have not always done this.

    • BruceB says:

      I’d say it’s a little soon for that in Levine’s case. There is no one left who was personally injured by Wagner, and there are fewer and fewer of those who were subjected to his music as a symbol of oppression in WWII. Many of Levine’s victims (alleged or otherwise) are still with us.

  • Simon says:

    I don’t know what is more crazy about all of this – Jimmy having a wife or the fact that Andrea Anson somehow announced this news as partner to Tim Fox in something called Promethean Artists. I hereby call on these CAMI dinosaurs to just ride off into the sunset and try to leave your complicity behind you. Retire already. Save what is left of your souls.

  • Barbara says:

    Well said and frees me to appreciate the likes of writer Celine (supposed anti semite), Thomas Jefferson and many in the musical world. Not that I didn’t appreciate, but I’m not
    immune to the moral dilemmas constantly being foisted on us.