Just in: Juilliard shuts down Zukerman’s ‘offensive’ masterclass

Just in: Juilliard shuts down Zukerman’s ‘offensive’ masterclass


norman lebrecht

June 28, 2021

The violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman gave a masterclass last week online for Juilliard’s Starling-DeLay violin symposium.

Barely had the wisdom left his lips than Juilliard shut down the video. Why the censorship?

Symposium Artistic Director Brian Lewis and Juilliard Director of Lifelong Learning John-Morgan Bush clarified:
‘Unfortunately, we will not be posting the video of Friday’s final master class with Pinchas Zukerman, who in the course of the class used insensitive and offensive cultural stereotypes. Those remarks did not represent the values of the Symposium or The Juilliard School. We have addressed this issue directly with the students involved and with Mr. Zukerman himself, who was a guest engaged for this symposium and has offered his apologies. On behalf of the Symposium and the school, we sincerely apologize to all attendees and again extend a personal apology to the recipients of those comments.’

What did Pinchas say or do?

Read here.

UPDATE: Pinky says sorry


  • Sam McElroy says:

    Apart from any of the other mines he stepped on with both feet, he obviously hasn’t heard that Koreans are producing stellar singers these days, including, of course, the recently crowned Cardiff Singer of the World, Gihoon Kim.


    • V.Lind says:

      Has he never heard of Sumi Jo?

    • TJSN says:

      Yes! I was wondering what Kwangchul Youn would have to say about that!!

    • Petros Linardos says:

      And there is Kwangchul Youn, a veteran German based Wagnerian usual suspect at Bayreuth and top opera houses, including the MET. Youn is Kammersänger in Berlin. Good solid career, but probably not enough antics to attract blog coverage.

    • Giustizia says:

      What about Hei-Kyung Hong and Sumi Jo? Zukermann’s ignorance is shocking.

    • William H Owen says:

      Singing in Korea is, in fact, a much greater part of every one’s life than in the west. Noraebang (singing room) is a regular part of everyone’s life. A Korean church choir, in the US, or in Korea will blow you away. Singing well is a cultural norm, like having a cellphone. Professionals like Kim Bum Soo, Ailee, Song Ji Eun, and Taeyang sing with amateurs at duet festivals. The amateurs are pro level. 100% goosebumps. I’m listening, as I write this, to Clara Jumi Kang playing Tchaikowski’s Violin Concerto. The dramatic, silken fluidity of her artistry is truly breathtaking. Julliard should hire her to teach that class.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    I’ve heard him do similar about playing mechanically in a Chinese way (maybe a couple of years ago).

  • James says:

    You didn’t include the comments he made. Even the most anti-“woke” person on the planet would have found them offensive:

    “Sometimes if you have a question about how to play it, sing it,” he said. “I know in Korea they don’t sing.” He went on to talk about how wrong it is, that in Korea they don’t sing.

    One of the sisters spoke up, “But I’m not Korean,” she said.

    “Then where are you from?”

    She began to explain that she’s of half Japanese descent, then he interrupted, “In Japan they don’t sing either.” He mimicked a sing-song vocal style that has been stereotyped as Asian. “That is not singing. Violin is not a machine.”

    • Jim C. says:

      He was joking. It may not be original, it may not be funny, but he wasn’t serious.

      “Offensive” ? What right do most of us have to feel this way?

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Because such comments denigrate groups of people and can lead to discrimination and worse. It’s a cumulative effect and we’ve seen the outcomes throughout history.

      • Hilary says:

        It’s offensive.

      • Nick says:

        It could be taken as “offensive” by today’s youngsters. It would never be considered offensive 30-40 years ago; not at Juilliard, not anywhere! Times change, Zukerman stays the same. He has the right!

        • David says:

          Yes, and Juilliard has the right to not engage him again and tell the world they find his approach offensive, outdated, and unwanted. Gotta love how two way streets work.

        • JR says:

          Wasn’t offensive 30-40 years ago? So what? You mean, long before these students were born?

          Are you that upset that people change–and in some cases–things improve?

    • No comment says:

      That’s “offensive” to you? Get help. I don’t sing, ok, so what?

  • Asian Food says:

    Don’t people just love to bring others down.. that’s the Pandemic I tell you. How about we forgive each other and move on? Why is there so much hate in the music industry? We all make mistakes, so do I. I would be surprised if the people pointing their fingers at Mr Zuckerman never made a racist remark in their lives. I am from Asia, and last year, I was physically abused by Caucasian men..they called me the coronavurus and told me to leave Berlin. The police came and asked me if I want to press charges.. I said no, because it will create more hate and divide.. these are just my thoughts… let’s stop exposing people like this.. convicting them in this manner is really unfair..

    • Talia says:

      Very hard to believe to your story. And even if it is true, you and all of us together should strive to extinguish this kind of offensive attitude towards people who’s only “fault” is that they were born in the “wrong” side of the world. Letting it go never stopped this misbehavior.

      • kölscher jung says:

        Hard to believe why exactly? Several of my friends living in Berlin have been harassed in various ways since the start of the pandemic

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          Even people in Köln , but that was carefully and conveniently swept under the rug at that time.

          “Look mummy; and no pandemic!!”

      • BRUCEB says:

        You know what I find hard to believe? Your supposed difficulty believing “Asian Food”‘s story.

        Maybe “Asian Food”‘s decision not to press charges was based partly on the abundant existence of people like you, who find it “very hard to believe” in discrimination they haven’t experienced themselves. No point making yourself a target for people who think you’re lying to the police.

      • Asian Food says:

        I would be very happy to meet you with my lawyer and the Police report taken last year in Berlin. Your comment is morbid.. how can you think this was made up? Which part of this earth do you live in? Have you not seen the hard working Asian people get racially abused in Germany?? Especially during the last year and a half? I am speaking only for musicians, but maybe our dear host country is confused as to why we are here…

        answer: we are not here to stink up your land by bringing our culture and food… we are here because we respect your culture, and we want to learn music in the land that Beethoven, Bach and Brahms lived in. Is this a sin?

        Also.. imagine I legally pursued those guys and made their lives hell for punching me and leaving scars on my leg. They wouldn’t be locked up, and it would only cost me money to have some kind of legal revenge.

        Would that make my life better? If so, how? Revenge isn’t worth it.. and Resentment? It does nothing but piss off the victim.

        I believe in rehabilitation not war…

      • Cynthia says:

        They were born in New York.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      You are probably correct that everyone has said things they should not. I have certainly made insensitive remarks, mostly in a close circle of friends who knew that I was joking. Besides, most of my insensitive remarks would be directed at my fellow Germans who are unfortunate enough to come from some weird region (i.e. not mine).

      However, I am just as sure that I never, ever made a remark remotely like Mr. Zukerman when teaching at my university and to a student. This has absolutely nothing to do with “woke” something or other, but simply with good manners and a general polite behavior toward others, esp. strangers.

      If Mr. Zukerman can’t manage to treat his students with respect, he should stop teaching. And nobody should hire him as a teacher, no matter how good he is as a player.

      • Jim C. says:

        That’s silly. He was being respectful, he just thought he was being funny, too.

        Jeez, everybody’s so into punishment these days. And outrage. It’s very troubling.

        • Cynthia says:

          He was definitely NOT being respectful. The girls were clearly disturbed, which should have prompted him to stop the nonsense, but he didn’t. This isn’t some PC exercise for the “woke.” This is about protecting students, especially children, from racist abuse. The girls played fabulously, they are astonishing and deserved far better for their efforts.

    • Craig says:

      How disturbing and rude.
      How much was he getting paid??
      I disagree with your comment.
      Pinchas is just a FUCKING ASSHOLE!!
      I am a professional musician who’s played with many orchestras.
      I’ve worked with him.

    • Sarah Lee says:

      They should be exposed. We should not be abused because of our race! Please stand up and break stereotypes.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        “Tomorrow belongs to me”!!

      • Heinrich says:

        I’ve been in the game for decades. Pinky may be a bit insensitive but it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Westerners and East Asians are simply wired up differently. Remember that you play our music, not the other way around.

        • The World is F'd says:

          Just wow… we play ‘your’ music..??

        • Music Lover says:

          Are Jewish people considered Westerners?

          btw, you sound like a German. How come Germans don’t sing well? Haven’t seen many good German singers these days…only a few.

        • Cynthia says:

          They were born in New York and one tried to say that they are half French. So much for your race based stereotyping.

    • Freewheeler says:

      You should have used karate on them.

    • Freewheeler says:

      They should take away his violin licence.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      You sound like an Asian version of an “Uncle Tom”. Your not pressing charges will not cause these lowlife Nazi scum to stop promoting hatred and division, in fact it only emboldens them (in Germany, no less!)

  • John Borstlap says:

    I first thought he had made one of those viola jokes. But this is even more embarrassing.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      My medical specialist was easily twice as rude to me as this only last week telling me I was a “typical teacher who thinks she can control everything”. He was having a bad day and I’ve had worse – like an endlessly barking dog next door (and they’re OK!!!).

      Generation Snowflake is on the rampage.

  • Raph says:

    boo hoo.

    ever heard Peking opera?

    • Peking opera says:

      Yes, I was fortunate enough to hear Peking opera performed in Qingdao and it was incredible. Visually stunning and such a virtuosic display of just how versatile the human voice is.
      What was your point?

      • Ralp says:

        My point, and I suspect PZ’s point as well, is that the Peking Opera, (or other traditional Eastern) style of singing is NOT the Western style of singing – not Callas or Schwartzkopf or Caruso. Its different, i.e. also not the style to be emulated in classical violin playing. Of course he phrased it clumsily, but a clumsy (or even rude) description of the difference of style is not equivalent to using the “n” word. The people here and elsewhere clutching their pearls need to get a grip. No one is impressed by your displays of outrage.

        • BRUCEB says:

          Considering that most westerners also don’t emulate the Western style of singing when they play classical music — we’re all told to do it; how many of us actually do though? — I’m not sure this is a valid point.

          • Ralph says:

            It’s a valid point- it just went over your head.
            Should a student aspire to play Schubert as it would be sung in a vernacular European style, or a vernacular and historic Japanese style? The question is forceful enough as to almost be rhetorical.

          • BRUCEB says:

            Yes — and obvious enough to be insulting.

            Although I guess if that’s what Zukerman heard, then that’s what he heard. (It’s a pity that Mehahem Pressler’s musical taste is not as refined, or he might have amounted to something.)

          • Musician says:

            It’s not half as clever-a-point as you think. Framing a composer’s instrumental works as though they are stylistically equivalent to that of their vocal mediums is a tired trope and intellectually lazy pedagogy.

            And racism phrased “clumsily” is still racism.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          Can they afford pearls, though?

        • Cynthia says:

          And how exactly is the Peking Opera relevant to sisters who were born in New York with Japanese and French ancestry?

        • Mikkim says:

          Neither is Klezmer or cantilation. What could an Israeli born Jew, taught by a Russian trained Armenian and an American Jew, possibly know about Singspiel or Spohr?

          Do you even hear yourself?

  • Sebastian Bohren says:

    If you watch Pinchas Zukerman‘s masterclasses on youtube you‘ll be surprised to find a lot of situations where he lacks sensitivity and is offensive in various contexts.

    • V.Lind says:

      Nothing would surprise me. When he was with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, he was either suspended or talked into taking a temporary leave — which some people thought could be permanent, relatively early in his long tenure there — because of the toxic work environment he had created.

      He had the orchestra, which apparently had previously been quite a happy place, utterly divided, and was abusive to various members. In the end they had to get some professional conciliator to come and work with all concerned, including him, for some months.

      I have this directly from a friend who worked for the orchestra, and who went out of her way to avoid him (it was nothing to do with sex, by the way, though possibly to do with his private life, in part).

      He mended his ways and stayed many more years, but his tenure was studded with spiteful acts and insensitivities. I went there and saw him either conduct of play a few times. As a conductor he was occasionally explicitly rude to audiences (and as a conductor, I thought he was a good violinist — and he was, at his best, a very good violinist: his Berg concerto was transporting).

      His best reputation there was his commitment to music education, and it was felt that would be his lasting legacy to the NACO. But nobody was sorry to see him leave — he was not very popular, despite, with his wife, being part of an “It” couple, glamorous, famous, talented, attractive. But his ego was said to be massive, and his manner toward people he considered his inferiors (i.e. most) was arrogant and dismissive. This sort of insensitivity was just typical of someone who had a throwback mentality.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        “at his best, a very good violinist”: I totally agree, he can give trully memorable performances. But how often does he play at his best? My live experiences of him in the 80s and 90s are mixed.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Because he usually ‘talks’ with a violin. And they don’t give ‘offense’ to snowflakes.

  • marcus says:

    Oh dear. You would have thought that someone as smart as Zuckerman appears to be could have seen that coming. Apparently not.

  • 'Twan says:

    Zuckerman is as tasteless a person as he is violinist (at least at this point). Sad!

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      He speaks well of you, though. I certainly hope you’ve invented a measuring stick for people when they open their mouths to make sure they’re ‘acceptable’.

  • Menahem Pressler says:

    It has been my very great privilege and honour to teach the two girls in question over several years at the Musica Mundi chamber masterclasses in Belgium and I have followed them closely ever since. They not only sing like angels but move me to tears each time I listen to them. Apart from their great artistic gifts they are highly cultivated civilised multilingual human beings, mature beyond their years. I am glad to know that Juilliard reacted swiftly to remove the class from view and I hope these wonderful young artists will manage to put the experience behind them.

    • anon says:

      Mr Pressler, it has been my honor to observe you work with young professionals at the Steans Institute. Thank you for your contribution to these young people’s lives.

    • Jim C says:

      If they aren’t tough enough to get over a failed joke routine then I don’t know.

      You know, 30 or 40 years ago kids would have laughed at this. Now they go for the fainting couches. Sad.

      • Cynthia says:

        First, the girls more than rose to the occasion. Second, child abuse 30 years ago doesn’t justify it now.

    • Alexy says:

      Thank you Maestro Pressler to give an educated elevated and empathic answer. After your words we should all keep silent. And think. With all my admiration.

    • Cynthia says:

      Thank you. Their playing was amazing. Beautiful, communicative, with great phrasing and character, brilliant and warm, with a sense of line that was indeed mature beyond their years. They handled the situation with great poise and responded with their musicality. They should not have had to face that rudeness, but they rose above it. I hope that it has no lingering ill effects on them.

    • Jory N says:

      Bravo, Mr. Pressler!

  • Patrick says:

    Too soon old, too late smart. He should know better.

  • Yuan says:

    Heard his recording of a Mozart Concerto yesterday morning and thought the world of him. Read this yesterday night and realized he’s an effing idiot. There is no place for this today. #zerotolerence

  • Fan says:

    I doubt Zuckerman had any ill intentions and I’m pretty sure, as the author says, the masterclass is actually insightful, but to say Koreans or Japanese don’t sing is extremely odd. It’s common sense that singing underlines musical sensibility in all cultures. There are something called folk songs in every corner of the world while purely instrumental music can be a late development.

    Zuckerman’s mentor, Isaac Stern, addresses the singing issue in the documentary From Mao to Mozart in a masterclass given in China in the late 1970s (or early 1980s). He, of course, had the benefit of demonstrating his points in person without having to articulate them verbally on Zoom. I believe Stern’s main point is that conservatory training in instrumental performance could overlook Western instrumental music’s roots in operatic and choral traditions. This is a very good point and I wonder whether it was what Zuckerman was trying to convey?

    • Monsoon says:

      Zuckerman repeating a racist trope over and over again is unfortunately not what this incident is about.

      The central issue is that he doesn’t think the sisters are American simply because they’re not white, and he believes that their perspective on musical performance is limited to their nationality. And note that when they tried to correct him, he ignored them.

      Whether or not Zuckerman’s “intentions” were “ill,” is besides the point.

      • E Rand says:

        This is idiotic and vile mind-reading. If you’d ever spoken with Zukerman, you’d know the degree to which he not only values, but encourages and supports brilliant Asian artists. He speaks in superlatives of the talent he’s encountered in Asia.

        Shame on you.

        • Andy says:

          Amanda? ‘Zat you?

        • Jim C. says:

          I know. This is all so silly and overwrought.

          I once attended a rehearsal with him and Mehta in LA years ago. You should have heard the ethnic jokes back and forth! They were hilarious.

          Come on people. Should he have done it? Probably not. But there was no ill intent. And those kids ALL better toughen up — and learn to dish it back!

          • Ashu says:

            [I once attended a rehearsal with him and Mehta in LA years ago. You should have heard the ethnic jokes back and forth!]

            The significance of this will be lost on many. I am often amazed by how many people don’t know that Mehta is Indian, a Parsi from Mumbai, vaguely assuming that he must be some kind of Jew from somewhere.

        • Monsoon says:

          Again, “supporting Asian artists” isn’t the point.

          It’s that he doesn’t believe people who are non-white are Americans.

          Read the article.

          He assumes the sisters are Korean based on their appearance. When they attempt to correct them and mention their Japanese heritage, he immediately hooks into that and talks to them as if they’re Japanese.

          • Ashu says:

            [It’s that he doesn’t believe people who are non-white are Americans.]

            Asian-Americans (and -Canadians, and -Europeans) have the same experience while travelling and working in Asia. A Japanese-Canadian friend of mine simply could not get Indians to accept that her native country was Canada.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        A bit like the Ivy League universities in the USA who recently imposed ‘quotas’ on Asian Americans. Seems they show up others in terms of sheer performance.

        Sound of crickets. As usual, selective outrage from the Left.

      • Jim C. says:

        You’re reading way too much into him. And it’s hardly a deliberately racist utterance. He wasn’t being serious or condemnatory.

      • karma says:

        You Monsoon along with your ilk are being confronted with the same vile hate that Trump and his supporters continue to endure. You emboldened yourselves by manipulating history and educational foundations in order to conflate communism, socialism and Marxism with virtue and American created freedom. You’ve clearly failed! Now your own groups and leaders are are bearing the hate you exacted against those who you chose to treat like enemies. Well, it is YOU who are the true enemy.

    • Carl says:

      This was almost certainly his point, albeit poorly expressed. In the old days, people were not trained, as they are now, to be hair-trigger outraged. To denounce first and most vigorously is a virtue! (Lest the mob come for you)

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Actually Stern’s point in the film was 180 degrees to Zukerman’s – that we all sing “naturally” (to varying degrees of listenability of course) because singing is related to talking, but it is not second nature to talk/sing on a musical instrument. That needs to be learned, either by exposure to those around you (live or recordings), or if those around you don’t or can’t do it, via helpful suggestions by a teacher. In the Mao to Mozart film Stern was confronted with a talented violinist who seemed reluctant to phrase music in a conversational way. Stern invited her to sing the melody as if it was a song — which she did very naturally and nicely — and then he said that’s precisely the way to phrase it on the violin, too. I know that portion of the film has recently come in for some sneering at Stern’s presumption that the Chinese students needed Western instruction from him or anyone else, but in point of fact you can HEAR the difference in the film.

      If Zukeman was trying to make Stern’s point he failed.

      If he was trying to be funny he also failed.

      I can’t help but suspect that there is some sort of back-story at work here of which we know little.

      • GUEST says:

        Stern was also totally condescending to the student you mention: “GOOOD Girl” said he, as if speaking to a dog. He epitomized old-school western superiority.

      • Fan says:

        Very good analysis – now I recall the details of the film and you are exactly right. Stern did come with a “you can easily do it because this (singing) is a universal thing” attitude.

      • Fan says:

        Very good analysis – now I recall the details of the film and you are exactly right. Stern did come with a “you can easily do it because this (singing) is a universal thing” attitude.

    • Jim C. says:

      He thought he was being funny with an old hackneyed routine. He obviously liked the two.

      People are just so uptight these days.

    • Mick the Knife says:

      For many decades a famous tuba player and teacher was telling loads of mostly white, male brass players to sing. Nothing revelatory from PZ or Stern. And nothing peculiar to an ethnic background or instrument.

      • Alphonse says:

        Arnold Jacobs of course! His wisdom utterly transformed my playing and my approach. I also highly recommend that all brass players, struggling or not, look into the work of Jacobs’ protege, Chicago-based tubist and pedagogue Roger Rocco. He (particularly in his incredible blog, linked here: http://www.rogerrocco.net/?m=1) has brilliantly distilled Jacobs’ often-verbose pedagogy to the all-important essentials with tremendous clarity and coherence. He (R. Rocco) is a truly great man.

  • Henry williams says:

    Musicians are racists like other people. Iam not surprised.

  • George says:

    Censorship?? Zukerman was making blatantly racist remarks in a master class with Asian students. And at a time when anti-Asian violence is a serious problem in the U.S. What sort of conservatory would release a video containing such language?

  • Ryuan says:

    Thought the world of him when I watched a recent video of him playing Mozart 5 yesterday morning…..Realized he is a blunt idiot when I read his comments yesterday night. Enough is enough – #zerotolerence for racist comments

  • sam says:

    Yikes, cringe worthy.

    I know he’s old, but even his generation, had he never played under Ozawa? Did he also tell Seiji that singing is not part of his DNA?

    But seriously, how can someone so well travelled harbor so many racial prejudices? These aren’t even “stereotypes”. How can he possibly think that an entire race does not / cannot “sing”?!

    For God’s sake, Chinese is a TONAL language! TONAL!

    OY VEY, as one’d say in Korean.

    • Leslie says:

      He did not mean that those who speak those languages do not sing. He meant that they do not inflect their words in the same manner as the Chinese language does which can be rather sing-song-y. He was not insulting anyone.

    • Jim C. says:

      You honestly think he thinks that about Asians?

      Gimme a break.

  • drummerman says:

    20 years ago I was managing an orchestra (in the US) and Zukerman did a master class while he was in town for an all Mozart play/conduct concert. He made a young boy in the class cry with some comment he made. No, it was not an ethnic slur but it was hurtful enough that the youngster started crying.

  • Donald Halliday says:

    The generalisations that helped make this an issue are just wrong, evidently and verifiably wrong.

    Just a couple of things:

    The 2022 World Choir Games are being held in Gangneung, Republic of Korea. They’ve been held in Korea before, in 2002.


    10,000 Japanese sing the Ode to Joy.


    • Leslie says:

      Mr Zuckerman was not referring to singing in a literal way. He was speaking of the Japanese and Korean language not inflecting in the same way that a language like Chinese does which can be rather sing-song-y.

  • anon says:

    This is Pinky behavior of long-standing. I was in attendance at 2 different MC’s about 20 years ago. In the first he ridiculed a player, dismissed her from the stage to practice, then had her return to show the “improvement”. I’ve been told this is his standard, often used technique. Perhaps this is fine if done with kindness and collaboration between himself and the player, but none of that was in evidence. Pure demonstration of his ego.

    In the second MC, he insulted the young boy’s teacher and parents – the kid had a tight vibrato. Perhaps the child was nervous??? The boy studied with a well-known teacher. Certainly, Pinkly should know it isn’t appropriate to criticize a colleague in front of an audience of over 100.

    Pinky then proceeded to talk about how Isaac Stern had “plucked” him out of Israel and assured he would undergo years of therapy. I guess the therapy failed to instill sensitivity or human values. What a self-centered man!

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      His relatives obviously had years of therapy too. In Auschwitz. And elsewhere.

      Poor little snowflakes of today’s world. Somebody raised his voice at a Princess or Emperor. Better not head into the concert halls!!

  • Sarah Lee says:

    Really? Saying “singing isn’t in our DNA” is acceptable as a representative of Juilliard and as a TEACHER?! It’s entirely Eurocentrically biased and racist to say the least! Good for Juilliard!

    • Leslie says:

      Please! You’d better get over your
      “Eurocentric is racist” BIAS. Either that or you’re not going to be playing much of the classics. ALL of the repertoire that is REQUIRED performance is from EUROPE & RUSSIA. Either get over it or do something else. You’ll never make it in the professional musician world if you don’t. The music’s already hard enough as it is & we do not need overly sensitive musicians who are offended at every conductor’s or teacher’s remarks.

      • Paulo Braga says:

        I’m afraid you may have mixed things a little.
        1) His remarks were eurocentrically racist – no doubt about that;
        2) Most (not ALL) required repertoire is from Europe and Russia (didn’t you mention Brexitistan on purpose?)
        Madly loving European music does not turn one into an Eurocentric zealot or, much worse, a racist, as numerous excellent Asian and South American musicians and music lovers abundantly demonstrate over the years.
        Saying that a non-European (strangely: like himself, who was born in Tel Aviv) isn’t intellectually or emotionally capable of mastering European music, that’s a problem.
        It’s so sorrowful to think that millions and millions died or suffered (among them Zukerman’s own parents) in the (vain) struggle to defeat the mother of all hate…

  • Jim says:

    I don’t excuse his comments in any way, but with regard to saying that “Korea is not a singing culture”- I just can’t imagine he meant that literally. He can’t be that clueless. It’s possible that he meant playing with line and phrasing when he said “singing”. Still clueless though. I never thought a professional musician could be tone deaf haha

  • Whitesupremacy says:

    “Japanese and Koreans don’t sing.”

    “Take it easy guys, he’s just trying to be funny and approachable.”

    “Female conductors are only good at conducting Debussy.”

    “How dare you! This stereotype is totally unacceptable!”

  • Nijinsky says:

    Excuse me, but how “warm hearted” and politically correct for Laura Niles to report this, it actually being something that needs attention.

    This after she gets the whole mob going ridiculing https://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/201012/11902/

    No Pinchas Zukerman shouldn’t be making such remarks, it not even being what he meant had he taken a moment to think about it, which having apologized shows he does have the ability to do.

    In contrast Laurie Niles didn’t even report Karkowska’s death on her site after starting the whole mob ridiculing her, instead you have this old story where she, maintaining a whole collection of teachers even, supports one violently throwing a cigarette at a student, do they sound to much like a “Nanny-Goat.”

    Yes Karkowska was “crazy.” Crazy enough to actually commission a violin concerto https://soundcloud.com/robin-hoffmann/sets/violin-concerto that you can still hear, in stark contrast to all her ‘superior” collegues. A concerto that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I guess it’s just too amazing anyone would have respected her talent enough to have been there to help calm down her affinity towards “Nanny Goats,” rather than using it as spot and fodder to their holy superiority.

    • Nijinsky says:

      Having read the other posts a bit, I didn’t know P Z was in the habit of saying such insensitive things. I guess had he mentioned Nanny Goats, it would have been OK. As long as it’s humans making themselves superior to nature, rather than themselves.

      Or pigs, cows, worms, monkeys even…..

    • Cynthia says:

      Laurie didn’t “ignite the mob.” She reported what was said and what happened with great accuracy. Whatever bone you have to pick with her, 100 professional musicians/teachers witnessed this horror show. We’re hearing about it from other sources as well. There are a lot of great Asian musicians who are sick of the “Asians play mechanically” trope. Furthermore, Juilliard released a statement.

  • violinist says:

    I’ve experienced a handful of his master classes and unfortunately that’s the norm. I thought the first one was a fluke but after the second time my opinion of him had definitely shifted.

  • Squarcialupi Codex says:

    I attended master classes with Dorothy Delay. The insults never stopped. The student learns from the master, for good or bad. Mr Zuckerman’s comments should not have come as a surprise.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Pinchas Zukerman is a few weeks shy of his 73rd birthday. He’s had plenty of time to process and outgrow bad formative influences.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, and there are places you can be sent to in order to “process” those bad ‘formative influences’.

        History is littered with these re-education programs. Last time we just ran out of body bags.

        Most of these complaints represent the limits of a lack of history teaching.

      • Harvey Rosenbaum says:

        While not excusing his conduct, wonder if Mr. Zukerman’s poor judgement and offensive comments represent early dementia — which I would not wish on anyone.

    • anon says:

      I’ve also seen DeLay work with advanced Suzuki students. Advanced meaning not nearly what she was used to at Juilliard Pre-college. Not a single inappropriate word to these teenaged and younger students. Certainly some of the playing lacked the prodigy promise, but she treated each student with the respect they deserve as human beings and committed violin students. Nothing like Pinky working with the young.

  • Musicman says:

    Zukerman is an Israeli Jew whose parents were Holocaust survivors. Sad that he would come after another minority. This sounds like a classic case of the oppressed becoming the oppressor.

    • GUEST says:

      Gee, ya think? Sort of like Israel itself. (Dare you to print, Norman.)

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      A vicious and gratuitous remark, given the antipathy to Israel already from the Left.

      Actually, you could use is as a perfect metaphor. A small nation in the middle of an arid desert wasteland thrives and prospers. People hurl rockets at it out of murderous envy and rage and the Left cheers.

      I don’t think I’d want to hear music played by people who belong in a sheltered western workshop, never hearing a harsh word said against them. What in the world would they ever understand about Beethoven?

      • Eric says:

        An “arid desert wasteland” – really? “Making the desert bloom in a land empty of people.” No one believes that tired Zionist line anymore. Most of the world sees Israel-Palestine as the apartheid state it is.

      • GUEST says:

        Sounds like Las Vegas

    • Jim C. says:

      He’s not going after a minority.

      Jeez’ people, mellow out.

  • freddynyc says:

    Not quite sure which I find more offensive – his totally unacceptable remarks at the masterclass or the fact that there are people who actually like his Mozart…..

    • GUEST says:

      Hate speech! His vibrato is like a sugar high. Diabetics shouldn’t be chastised.

    • winrx says:

      Hey Odin, did you say this to Zukerman when you were guest Principal 2nd violin in NACO? Why don’t you grow a set and post your snide remarks under your real name? Everyone in NYC knows who you are. No need to hide behind a pseudonym.

  • BRUCEB says:

    I wonder if he’s still sore about having to share the Levintritt prize with Kyung-Wha Chung 50-odd years ago…

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Good catch…and a woman no less.

    • Mikkim says:

      I heard the panel unanimously gave 1st prize to Chung. The only reason he got the tie was because of Stern’s intervention. So…yeah.

      • BRUCEB says:

        That’s believable. He has a more lush sound and better intonation*, but she has always been the more interesting musician.

        * (not that hers is bad, but there are spots on her recordings here & there; his too, but fewer)

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    One of the most important lessons I ever learned was from my father. He worked his way up from nothing. He became the youngest Captain ever appointed to the NYPD in the 1970s, then became a Director of Security for a huge hospital in the NY area. I never, ever point fingers or criticize others, because I have my own faults as a human being. However, what I did learn from him is to respect others, and treat them equally the way they would like to be treated, and how I would expect them to treat me. You could be at the top of your game, but I always, always tell my own sons, I don’t care what you do in life, but be a good person. Work hard, have a strong work ethic, and be grateful for those who help you get to where you need to. Some have had the yellow brick road paved more easily than others, but character comes from within. Some of my best friends are the most successful at their game, as they started with nothing and built their dreams and castles from nothing. There is indeed something to be said about that.

    • Hubert Kellen says:

      Aptitude, self-sufficiency and hard work mean absolutely nothing today thanks to college educated liberals.

      They have succeeded in promulgating black against white hate harkening back to their KKK roots without acknowledging it. Jews are now being victimized by the white construct of higher education they coveted. Too bad they failed to think ahead of the ramifications.

  • Anon says:

    Much as you are right on about Pinchas Zukerman, I know there are far worse people. I will not name names, but, as I am 34 years old, there are some who are around that age, and even younger than that, who are far far worse than Mr. Zukerman is and was.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Probably so, but do they have his platform to share their misguided thoughts?

      • Anon says:

        I will not give you any names but one of them is 2 years older than me, another is 16 years older than me. I saw them, from where I was sitting, saying stuff that Pinchas Zukerman would never ever do, nor even would Toscanini have done. I too am “tired of it all”. I dislike awful people even if they are the best teachers. I’m sorry.

    • henry williams says:

      i have worked with many people
      like him in the different organisations i have worked for.
      i have always ignored it because
      i needed employment i could not
      cause an argument in the office.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        All of us have had the occasion in our job to swallow it (crap, that is), performing or otherwise. We all have our own level of tolerance.

        Unacceptable at any time, it is particularly reprehensible when aimed at a young student.

  • Ben G. says:

    Someone once asked Seiji Ozawa how a Japanese like himself is capable of assimilating the music of the Western culture, and do so without difficulty.

    “The sun rises in the same way all over the world”, was his reply.

    Maybe I didn’t quote him exactly, but you all get the idea….

  • Michael B. says:

    I am sorry, but Zuckerman’s remarks were extraordinarily offensive, period. How would he have reacted if he had been told: “Jews don’t sing”? Of course, that is equally ridiculous–Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker, Alexander Kipnis, Mark Reizen, Robert Merrill, Beverly Sills, Judith Raskin, Chen Reiss, and so on.

    • GUEST says:

      But don’t Jews all sing augmented seconds all the time?

    • Anon says:

      There are far worse. You can just wonder who they are. I’m not giving you any names because I respect people’s privacy.

    • Felix says:

      The essence of the issue is interjecting the misguided notion that one race (white) and religion (Judaism) is supposedly better than ALL others. Of course they are not.

  • JoshW says:

    Pinky has been known for decades as a crude and rude sexist ——-. Why this should come as a surprise to anyone is, well, a surprise.

    • esfir ross says:

      Arrogance and bigotry in PZ’s Israeli genes.

    • winrx says:

      At least Zukerman is not a snake oil salesman who tells his students to feel the flow of energy from the ground up and can put a coherent sentence together..

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    This isn’t the Pinchas Zukerman that i know, and i know him well. He’s a good man with a good heart. We all have our bad days, and yes when he’s irritated he shoots from the hip – but it’s not who he is. Indeed, racist remarks are never appropriate, and he should know better. With regard to singing, he was referring to “intensity” – the quality of the “singing” – and that’s a characteristic that all students need to focus on, irrespective of their DNA. Let’s focus on what he MEANT, not on what he said – and cut him some slack. And Pinchas, you are better than this, so clean up your act!

    • Tim says:

      Well said.

    • BRUCEB says:

      Sorry, but he’s old enough to choose his words, and experienced enough to know that what you say to students and how you say it, and what you say in public, matters.

      Then again he’s been offending people for so long that he probably thinks his refusal to change makes him a charming old curmudgeon, or something.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      If he was 21, yes, I’d cut him some slack. At his advanced age and position of authority, people listen to his words, they should not have to try to decipher what he may have intended to say. He needs to put on his big boy pants and accept responsibility. It isn’t complicated to admit mistakes, unless he is simply recalcitrant. People forgive those who show some degree of humility.

      • Ludwig's Van says:

        He did apologize! So get off your high horse. And btw, if you’re going to study with a great teacher, learning to decipher what they mean is crucial if you want to learn from them. And remember, English is not Zukerman’s first language…

    • Henry williams says:

      I ones saw Thomas Brandeis giving a master
      Class. A student was late . He screamed at
      Him that students must never be late.
      The poor student got lost in the building that is
      Why he was late. Great player but horrible person.

  • Alex says:

    While I am sure Zukerman never intended to harm anyone AND apologized from the bottom of his heart for any ill feelings left behind, we cannot hold him to a robotic standard. It is precisely the “human” characteristics of musicianship that one should hold in high regard when attending a class by him. and others at the top. Zukerman is prone to laughter and a healthy appreciation of music as a natural consequences of humanity, and not its use as a form of oppression. Those who are “perfect” and have accomplished as much as he did in life should be the first ones to throw stones. Zukerman is not a bad person, never was. In fact he bends backwards to support young musicians of every race. If a joke, or a misunderstanding, or a failed attempt to clarify a point makes him look…human, imperfect, it is just that, an imperfection. To judge him, punish him, and worse, punish us by canceling his classes and vision is a shot on our own foot. He apologized. He recognized it was the wrong thing to say. Let him be.

  • Tim says:

    It’s hard to believe someone so obviously gifted and intelligent could also be so stupid.

  • David says:

    I refer to him as Pinkass. He has behaved horribly in many performances I’ve witnessed and been a part of professionally. His rude hacking of the Brahms violin concerto was bad enough, but this outrageous racist behavior is beyond any of his worst. Bravo to Juilliard for deleting the BS masterclass by a complete idiot. I refuse to ever perform with Pinkass again and I urge many to do the same.

  • Fliszt says:

    In reviewing Zukerman’s initial comments to the sisters, what he was in fact saying was that they were playing too much like good students – and he wanted to hear some artistry.

  • Michel Lemieux says:

    Koreans don’t sing? Has the Zuck been to an opera performance in the last 20 years? And he obviously hasn’t let his head out of his own ass for longer.

  • M2N2K says:

    This is not surprising at all: PZ has always been an awfully rude and obnoxious person – an extremely gifted violinist/violist but a truly lousy human being. If it were up to me, I would not have the video of his insults removed, but would have actually posted it for everyone to see what kind of man he really is.

  • Leslie says:

    I watched the ENTIRE class that Mr Zuckerman taught. Mr Zuckerman started off by complementing their wonderful performance. The two girls were very young (12 & 14) and didn’t speak up about being Japanese until about 15 +/- minutes into the video. I don’t think he said anything bad to them and I heard his whole discourse. If they took offense, it really is on them. Mr Zuckerman talked about their ensemble performance and his comments were spot on.

    He also spoke of “not singing” by which he was alluding to the fact that Korean or Japanese does not inflect their speech in their language the way that say, Chinese does with its different sounds and tones when they speak. He was not saying that Koreans or Japanese do not sing!

    And he DID apologize to the girls in the moment as well.

    I studied with Dorothy DeLay and Ivan Galamian too. There is a way that Master Teachers speak with their students that is NOT derogatory but is unique to the way they teach. Comments are often what the “woke” crowd would find offensive but it is NOT offensive to us and those “woke” individuals would never make it in the highly intense and demanding world of professional musicians. We know what we’re getting into when we start.

    In my mind, thus is the fault of whoever was responsible for telling Mr Zuckerman who he would be working with. I’m not sure who that would be but I’m assuming it would be a staff member who facilitated the contact with Mr Zuckerman to finalize the teaching schedule. I do not fault Mr Zuckerman.

    • Cynthia says:

      I listened to the whole thing too and was horrified. Laurie Niles got it exactly right, word for word. You must have filtered out the bad stuff, for whatever reason – I felt like someone had turned the cultural calendar backward 30 years… He started with the soy sauce and kimchi bit, which was, ahem, distasteful. But it got worse and it was upsetting the girls and that didn’t prompt him to stop, in fact, he doubled down on the racist nonsense. He did indeed say the crap about “they don’t sing in their culture” and made the remark about the DNA. The older girl kept trying to tell him that they weren’t Korean, and then when said “Japanese, same thing” she was clearly exasperated and tried to work in the French part.

      You don’t seem to understand why this was racist so I’ll spell it out for you, it was because he was making assumptions based on their looks. And he did it at a time when hate crimes against AAPI people are way up, including on the streets of New York.

      You filtered it out, or normalized it. After all, back in the day this was pretty common (though always wrong). But this hasn’t been OK for a long time. So you must be ancient and out of touch to have filtered out the crap (Galamian died around 1981, right?). One of the reasons for the upset is that great Asian musicians are sick of the “Asians play mechanically and not expressively” racist trope. You are way out of touch with all of the reasons that this is a scandal that needs to end.

    • Fan says:

      Stop calling people you disagree “woke” and become woke yourself. And why leave an anonymous letter?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      So, basically, you’re saying that Mr. Zukerman should have received crib notes so as to not make insensitive comments?? (Also, you’d think a professional violinist would be able to spell the name of a violinist on the international scene for the past 60 years…)

  • CM says:

    Was his apology for being the clueless chauvinist he has always been, or for not having great teaching chops? He could still try to improve on the second one.

  • Jim C. says:

    He was obviously joking.

  • fflambeau says:

    Let’s face it, lots of people associated with or at a very high level in classical music, are/were jerks.

    Wagner comes to mind. A terrific anti-semite and just a louse.

    Historically, too, Reinhard Heydrich was a superb violinist, his dad even ran a highly regarded musical school. He was a killer.

    I had a very bad experience with the British violinist, Nigel Kennedy. He had just played the first half of a concert in Honolulu. In the second part, someone new sat in front of me. He and his girlfriend began talking loudly and fighting. I coughed once and later nudged him before telling him, “please shut up. You are disrupting the concert.” The offender, unknown to me until he turned around, was Nigel Kennedy. You would think he would know better but didn’t.

    Moral of story: Just because someone is gifted musically, like Wagner, Heydrich, Kennedy, or in this case, P.Z., doesn’t make them great people.

  • BigSir says:

    Pinky, duck! There’s an asteroid heading right at you!

  • Joel Levine says:

    I worked with Zukerman twice. The first time was pleasant, but the last time was horrific. He whined, played out of tune and was contemptuous of an audience that showed up to adore him.

  • He probably thought it was a hi-larious ad-lib.

    I recall Jerry Seinfeld noting, “All men think they’re funny.”

  • Music Lover says:

    Do you know what people say about Italians and Koreans and what they have in common? “Both people are family oriented and love Singing!”

    Whether joking or not, what an ignorant comment PZ made!

    • Enough nonsense says:

      Who says that, I’ve never heard such nonsense.
      French, German, British, Mexicans, Russians don’t like singing and their families? What a pile of crap.

  • Edgar says:

    Just listen to one Korean violinist- Bomsori Kim. Her playing is all about singing. She studied at Juilliard.


  • anon says:

    As with any bigoted statement, it is a monumentally absurd and illogical assertion. It implies that–as opposed to people who happen to be Korean or Japanese–a young American violinist who grew up in rural Idaho or a young Brazilian violinist who grew up in a favela outside of Rio somehow INTRINSICALLY have a connection to the singing quality of a composer like Spohr GREATER than that of a young violinist whose mother was born in Seoul, or a young violinist who grew up in Kyoto. What is the basis of this statement, other than a baldly bigoted generalization? The average American or German youth of 2021 has absolutely no connection to concertante music of the early 19th century closer than any other person in the world, including those of Asian descent. Statements like these are stupid, meaningless, and need to be rejected vigorously.

  • Gerarudo says:

    That Zukerman did not just let the comment slip but actually ran with it, doubled down on it shows that he believes in an ugly, misguided and, by now, thoroughly debunked stereotype about Asian musicians: they got technique but they ain’t got soul. And if this stereotype is the lens (or mic?) through which he listens to and appraises music, he has no business TEACHING classes as he clearly does not HEAR what his students are playing.

  • Paulo Braga says:

    Is there any need to stress that Zukerman is a top-notch instrumentalist? However, besides that astonishingly racist rant, one should remember that it’s not from today that one notes he could benefit from some updating: his demeaning remarks about HIP demonstrates he’s not always in tune – or is there anyone who would swear by his “baroque” renditions?

  • Hugo Pine says:

    Still waiting to hear Manhattan School of Music release a statement about all of this. They’ve been awfully silent. I wonder if this incident will result in Zukerman’s termination as a faculty member at MSM.