Slatkin quits New York orchestra

Slatkin quits New York orchestra


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2021

New York City Ballet has just lost its principal cellist after wriggling out of paying its orchestra during Covid.

Frederick Zlotkin, brother of the conductor Leonard Slatkin, joined the NYCB orchestra on December 21 1971 and functioned for half a century as its heart and soul, two organs that are clearly absent on its miserly board.

We wish Fred, 74, a busy retirement.


  • Gustavo says:

    Clickbait alert!

  • David K. Nelson says:

    A fine musician and honors are due him – one such honor would be to use his chosen spelling of the last name in your headline, eh?

  • David Leibowitz says:

    Why on Earth would you call him Slatkin when his name is clearly Zlotkin?

    • Geoff G says:

      Perhaps so that mere mortals like me who recognise “Slatkin” from numerous old recordings but had never heard him called “Zlotkin”, will know who he’s taking about?
      I say “Rachmaninov” too.
      Such discussions seem important to a select few of course, but risk confirming the slander that Classical music is obscure, elitist and only understood by a very few. IMHO

      • DL says:

        And yet “Sergei Rachmaninoff” was the spelling he, himself, used while living in the United States from 1918 until his death. But if you’re selecting alternate spellings, why not “Rakhmaninov?” But hey, you do you – no need to respect an individuals wishes on how they wish to be address.

    • Gustavo says:

      As long as it’s not Slutkin…

    • Rit says:

      Because he wanted readers to think it was Leonard Slatkin.

      Also, Mr Zlotkin, whose excellent work I’ve enjoyed many times, didn’t even quit – retirement that is timely or even overdue at age 74, is a natural progression and not quitting. And hopefully will be an enjoyable one for Maestro Zlotkin.

      NYCB has also not been able to perform for over 18 months due to high Covid case numbers in the city so it was probably fairer to let Mr Zlotkin retire and plan other projects to do with his life instead of being left waiting around.

  • No money, no peace! says:

    ‘White Flight’ in response to the RACIST Lincoln Center begins.

  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    Why hasn’t NYCB music director Andrew Litton spoken up for the musicians?

    • Farmer Joe says:

      Because it does nothing to help, and puts their job in jeopardy. Tell me a situation when an MD speaking out caused the management/board to cave to musician demands… Not even Muti was able to do that.

      Also, Mr. Zlotkin was apparently into ancestry, and he decided to use the original form of Slatkin, which was Zlotkin when his family first moved to the US. He was born Slatkin.

  • John McLaughlin Williams says:

    I remember his playing Korngold’s Cello Concerto quite well with Detroit SO a few years ago. I’m sure his next phase will be a satisfying and busy one.

  • Jim Dukey says:

    The San Francisco Ballet IS paying its Musicians, at a Negotiated lower rate,
    even though they haven’t been able to work.
    Same at SF Opera.
    The Met and now City Ballet should be ashamed.

  • David J Hyslop says:

    Fred Zlotkin is a fine musician and nice guy. All the best to him in his next chapter in life.

  • Anthony Guterwicz says:

    At least get his name right, Norman. What is wrong with you???

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Once a Slatkin, always a Slatkin

      • SMH says:

        Incorrect Norman: “Leonard Slatkin was born in Los Angeles to a musical family that came from areas of the Russian Empire now in Ukraine. His father, Felix Slatkin, was the violinist, conductor and founder of the Hollywood String Quartet, and his mother, Eleanor Aller, was the cellist with the quartet. His brother, Frederick, now a cellist, traced the family’s original name as Zlotkin, and adopted that form of the family surname for himself professionally.

        Frederick Zlotkin has spoken of the family lineage as follows:

        “The Zlotkin/Slatkin lineage is Russian-Jewish. The first Zlotkin arrival to the US was Felix’s father, grandpa Chaim Peretz Zlotkin, who came to settle with relatives in St. Louis in 1904; he (or the clerk at Ellis Island) changed the name. He probably came from the town of Mogilev [now Mohyliv-Podilskyi], from a shtetl (the Russians forced most Jews to live in villages outside of the major cities)…The Altschuler [Aller] side of the family is really rife with musicians. [My grandfather] Grisha’s uncle, Modest Altschuler, was a cellist (making me 4th generation) and he had quite a career. Among other things, he did the St. Petersburg premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence Sextet. When he came to America he formed the Russian Symphony Orchestra (early 1900s).”

        • V. Lind says:

          1. As he works under the name Zlotkin, I think that would have been the more courteous usage.

          2. Transliterations from a different alphabet often lead to varying spellings in English. I know a Russian couple with a daughter whose name they now spell Ksenia. I know a Canadian woman called Xenia. I tried to explain this to the couple but as the Cyrillic alphabet apparently does not include the letter X, it just mystified them.

  • Jim C. says:

    Don’t forget mention of Felix!

  • Re the name: When I was in my early 30s, a good friend of mine, from Austria, looked at the name (Slatkin) and told me it couldn’t be the original name. I began researching it and found that when my grandfather arrived in the US in 1913, the passenger manifesto showed “Zlotchin”. Ten years later, his father arrived and that manifesto showed “Zlatkine” as the surname.

    My great grandfather’s death certificate (1927) spells it “Zlatkin,” letters from relatives in Russia (in Russian) spell it “Zlatkin,” and the Hebrew on his tombstone spells it “Zlatkin.”

    A Russian ‘A’ sounds more like an ‘O’, so the closest transliteration is “Zlotkin.”

    When I spoke to my brother about this, he was very interested in changing it, but had established his professional name so well that the change would be confusing. It sometimes assuaged accusations of nepotism when we collaborated and people didn’t realize we were related.

    I second Norman’s “once a Slatkin..” because of my love and tremendous admiration of my dear brother and father.

    Dr Z

  • George Lyons says:

    Rest In Peace, Mr Frederick Zlotkin.