Juilliard hires NY Times critic

Juilliard hires NY Times critic


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2022

We learn today that Juilliard Extension, the college’s program for lifelong learners, has a new course called Critical Listening.

It will be taught by Anthony Tommasini, until lately chief classical music critic for the New York Times.


  • Tiredofitall says:

    Good God….Wouldn’t this be a better class for The Learning Annex? Juilliard must be desperate for tuition dollars.

    Did Mr. Tommasini ever really listen?

    • Kathryn says:

      The article does say he’s been hired by the Juilliard Extension Program, not the College (or even the Pre-College where such a class could be quite helpful).

      Maybe it’s time for a class to sharpen up those reading skills?

    • Anon says:

      I don’t know if he listened but his reviews were extremely predictable. One almost didn’t need to listen or attend the concert to come up with such reviews.

    • Lindsay says:

      It would be so fun if his assignments were: everyone draw straws. Watch this concert on Youtube, and everybody write a review according the the length of your straw. Grading will be on a curve.

    • Gary J Richmond says:

      I have not personally found Tommasini music criticism on target or helpful. Frequently I’ve disagreed with his critique, sometimes almost totally. At one Mostly Mozart concert some years ago, an absolutely brilliant performance of one of Mozart’s piano concertos — which, as I recall, deservedly, imo, received a standing ovation — he panned. At the time I wondered whether he’d even attended the concert as the article as it appeared in the Times was extremely short.

      In my opinion, a much better critic — who has written a fine, lively, contemporary book on criticism in the arts generally, Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth — is the chief film critic at the Times, A.O. Scott. ​​His principal principle is one which I’ve always employed with students and others new to an art form or artist: it is to draw them into a given work of art​ by unveiling some of its qualities, esp. the ‘good’ ones which might make it worth ones spending some time with.

    • Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

      It would not be the first time. During WWII, men who wanted to be real men were killed byGermans, who, incited by Wagner, wanted to be realGermans. Many were admitted to Juilliard, especially to the voice department, who loved music but simply did not make it. What they did was told them they were making great progress , gave them a secondary part in an opera production ( that ruined whatever vice today she might have had for early music), in the case of my aunt, Gounod, Faust. As great as Westminster was, we once had an excellent bass who was there on a basketball scholarship. Hoop-de-la, a coloratura-bass bravura aria famous for the dribbling middle section

    • Dr. Jim says:

      Agreed. Or we could teach Tommasini how to read music in seven clefs, realize figured bass, compose a Prelude in the of style of J.S. Bach, and fluently read just about anything at sight. Then, after he has given an hour long recital or two, maybe, just maybe, he might have a tiny clue as to what music study in a conservatory ACTUALLY IS for the typical undergrad. He has no business telling conservatory students how to do anything. That is the job of something called the “Music Faculty.”

      • Helene Kamioner says:

        for me it was all useless demeaning crap

      • Mercer says:

        Considering he has a BA and MM from Yale, a DMA from Boston, and taught at Emerson, I’d guess that he has at least “a tiny clue” of what undergrads go through.

    • BRIAN HYSONG says:

      Who Really Cares about the History and backround of a composition ….How does the performance match up to Maazel, Solti, Kleiber or Karijan? ..How about the Playing of an orchestra…Solos, ….Ensemble…..the interpretation ……If i Missed a Performance of a colleague here at Lincoln Center with the Met or Philharmonic or an Orchestra at Carnegie Hall ..forget it! Cursory Reviews at BestI !was Blessed to Perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and my own NYC Ballet Orchestra for over thirty years among others, i never saw a review that did critique the Performance as what really happened as to either quality or comparison of Cleveland to Pittsburgh or The LSO To Berlim Phil .

  • The View from America says:

    Oh, joy.

  • Kaf says:

    How desperate can one be to shell out money for an extension school class just so one can say at a cocktail party, “When I was attending Juilliard…”

    I personally am attending Harvard and Stanford right now … online.

  • Wah says:

    I could never finish his reviews. Shocking.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Perhaps he will not use a projector for his lectures given that he would need a …screen.

  • A Pianist says:

    “Lecture 1: Strapping Young Baritones”

  • RB says:

    Tommasini is an extremely knowledgeable classical music critic possessing a DMA from Boston University and whose mentor was composer Virgil Thomson. I’m pretty sure that HE LISTENS. Please be fair to the man’s accomplishments.

    • Simon says:

      His accomplishments have nothing to do with the fact that all of his reviews always begged the question whether he actually attended a given concert. Tommasini is one of those critiques who are responsible for the downfall of their own profession and why no professional musician with self respect ever reads their reviews.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Tommasini’s educational bits, including videos, for the Times were some of his strongest pieces. I particularly liked his introduction to Schoenberg and dodecaphony.

  • Paul Wells says:

    Bachelor and Master’s degrees in music from Yale, Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston College. Taught music at Emerson College for eight years before spending a decade at the Boston Globe and 26, all told, at the NYT. I mean, post your own credentials if you think they’re better.

  • Jan Piet says:

    Someone must be jealous here…

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    I know personally that Tommasini is a seriously un-gifted instrumentalist, who has no business referring to himself as a pianist. Degrees are often camouflage for lack of talent and experience, as was exposed in his many reviews, which are the work of a dilitante.

  • BlissfullyLowbrow says:

    Well I DO love a good first world, upper crust, hoity toity thrashing! Down here in Texas (fly over zone to you East coast Elites) we long ago pulled back the sheets and sized up the underwhelming goods of the NYTimes’ overpaid staff writers, contributors, critics; who, frankly, could stand to travel to the hinterlands to salvage what little they can of their wavering humility and modest sense of place.
    Reconnect with soul, soil, silence, the wisdom of bleak landscapes and the awesome Almighty, whoever or whatever that means to you, before uttering one more peep or committing one more word to paper.
    We snicker a bit out here in the real world at yall’s predilection for name dropping (Yale, Harvard, Boston U, et al). Don’t you know those have far less cache now than in days of yore? Et tu, Julliard?
    Don’t screw it up!

    PS) Luv summa yer Drama Department grads!