Marin Alsop lashes out at Cate Blanchett’s Tar

Marin Alsop lashes out at Cate Blanchett’s Tar


norman lebrecht

January 08, 2023

The conductor Marin Alsop, who has previously denied any involvement in Tar, excoriates the film  in an interview with Alexandra Coughlin in today’s Sunday Times:

“I first read about it in late August and I was shocked that that was the first I was hearing of it,” Alsop tells me over Zoom from Baltimore, where she has been teaching at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute. “So many superficial aspects of Tár seemed to align with my own personal life. But once I saw it I was no longer concerned, I was offended: I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian.”…

“To have an opportunity to portray a woman in that role and to make her an abuser — for me that was heartbreaking. I think all women and all feminists should be bothered by that kind of depiction because it’s not really about women conductors, is it? It’s about women as leaders in our society. People ask, ‘Can we trust them? Can they function in that role?’ It’s the same questions whether it’s about a CEO or an NBA coach or the head of a police department.

“There are so many men — actual, documented men — this film could have been based on but, instead, it puts a woman in the role but gives her all the attributes of those men. That feels antiwoman. To assume that women will either behave identically to men or become hysterical, crazy, insane is to perpetuate something we’ve already seen on film so many times before.”

Read on here.


  • Maria says:

    It’s just a film, and cinemas hope to sell tickets. Would a film about a nice female conductor or a tyrannical male conductor sell? It might, but it might not.

    A ‘man bites dog’ situation.

    • Music fan says:

      Judging by the disastrous box office Tár has received (a paltry $5.6 million since October), the film might have done better it had been done Alsop’s way.

    • Carl says:

      Exactly, she basically seems to be advocating for a boring plot line.

      I also suspect she’s trying to distance herself from it, given the chatter that it’s loosely based on her life and career. I actually enjoyed the film – found it a bit long and talky in the first 45 minutes or so, but remarkably accurate in many respects (the Gilbert Kaplan parallels were especially amusing).

  • RW2013 says:

    If only she conducted as well as Cate…

    • Erste Geigerin says:

      Exactly what I was thinking… MA is such an overrated conductor and every time we used to played under her I remember people in the orchestra kept wondering how she got to where she got with such poor skills. It’s sad that it’s all about equality rather than quality this days.

      • J Barcelo says:

        I think every orchesta has similar feelings about their own conductors, and at every level. The are few conductors who really inspire players and demonstrate brilliance. Alsop has got to have something going for her: she’s made plenty of fine recording. Her Bernstein and Prokofieff disks are pretty dang good.

      • Big Dave says:

        Alsop conducting Philharmonia and Sheku in September was absolutely electric and as good as I have heard them in any season past. So she is definitely not overrated in my book.

        I completely understand what Alsop’s saying here especially drawing all those parallels between her life and Tár’s. I don’t think the film is going to really hurt the prospects of young women conductors but given how wide the audience is for a major Hollywood film, it certainly has the potential to damage the outside impression of women in classical music, just as black swan did for ballet.

        Wonder how many of the commenters on here have actually seen the film…

        • Tamino says:

          I think it’s snowflake nonsense oversensitivity, if any twisted character in fictional plots is criticized for damaging somebody’s feelings. What a tyranny of inhibition we are steering into.

        • her royal snarkiness says:

          Black Swan is exactly why I did not go to see Tár. I figured Tár would be just as stupid, uninsightful, and fucked up.

          • Dwayne says:

            Tar is brilliant and none of those things. I thought only Republicans had negative opinions about stuff they’d never seen.

          • Wolfgang says:

            You are free to do so, but you’ll miss a rare piece of extraordinary film and acting art.

      • Tristan says:

        Voila – totally overrated indeed especially compared to Simone Young who has conducted at the Vienna Staatsoper, eben the RING!!! Imagine in conservative Austria where the press is as bad as in the US and UK
        It’s pathetic and let’s just hope we finally get someone who might research and finally discover a first class female composer in the last centuries
        Our world and especially the idiotic media has become mad
        Brava Cate, Brava making this film and just don’t listen to mediocrity

      • The stakes are so low says:

        …if only the equality you speak of was effective at giving women and anybody with talent and creativity equal opportunities on the podium.

        However, so far, in a large number of cases it’s produced the same results as for men ie nepotism -just different networks, grey artistic results, unprofessional technical ability and opportunities going to the box tickers and ladder climbers instead of the talented and creative.The main victim here is music as always.

        MA is a perfect example of this plus some other qualities that most successful conductors seem to share.

        The fact that in Tar, the main character is a woman, serves to underline the theme that the successful pursuit of power -how to get it, how to hold on, knows no discrimination.

        • Bedrich Sourcream says:

          It is very difficult for men to get anywhere as a conductor. Nearly all have low or mid-level careers regardless of talent or ability. But now, for politics sake, women are boosted to the top immediately. It’s disgusting.

      • Bedrich Sourcream says:

        Her parents were prominent musicians in New York City, and Leonard Bernstein promoted her, that’s how. And timing. Not talent. She’s basically a pops conductor at best who didnt’ stay where she should have.

    • T says:

      Just wondering if you’ve personally worked with her like I have? Absolutely not a terrible conductor or music Director.

  • A.L. says:

    Wrong. Just because a woman is, well, woman, (and-or lesbian and-or conductor) does not in any way equate with her being loving or lovely or beauty or angel or paragon of society or whatnot. Expecting such traits from women is the definition of sexism. Many lesbians, in fact, emulate male traits, physically and behaviorally. As some gay men do, too, in the opposite direction. Thus Alsop’s take seems off the mark.

  • Bone says:

    I understand that she wishes the portrayal were more flattering, but is it not good to see a woman play such a complex role? I’m sure society at large won’t assume that all women conductors behave like this. Also, who would want to see a movie about a nice lesbian conductor, anyway?

    • Carl says:

      Thumbs up X 100. Alsop embodies a standard P.R. stance among classical musicians: that only cheerful and positive images of the profession should be allowed. As such, she doesn’t give much credit to viewers – who are a pretty sophisticated bunch – by assuming that they’ll see an unflattering portrait and deduce that it represents classical music as a whole.

  • Orchestra player says:

    Oh Marin… As if placing your female students in top conducting positions even though they lack basic conducting / musicianship skills and with a goal of promoting yourself and your mediocracy – is not an abuse… It’s time you look at how you abuse the profession of classical music and the role of female conductors / leaders and stop blaming others for what you have been doing for years now. It’s you and your agenda of pushing more and more uncapable female conductors into the field just because they are females / Latinos / Asian / black / gay / or just because they are your own students – rather than promoting those female conductors that can actually do the job well, that make orchestra players, management people and the public ask themselves if female conductors are actually good enough and can be trusted.

    • Trompeta says:

      Well said!

    • Geoff Owen says:

      You can hide behind your anonymity, but all you’re demonstrating in your comment is the widespread misogyny rife in the system. Alsop isn’t placing anyone in these positions, if she were that powerful I think there would be a fair few more.

      She has her fellowship which supports talented women conductors and gets them opportunities, mainly because they aren’t afforded them by the system in its current form, most of the fellows are decent conductors, perhaps not Berlin Phil standard, but I wouldn’t say that of many male conductors either.

      The fact that this comment has had so many likes really demonstrates to me how SD has become home to the fecal sludge at the bottom of the septic tank of the classical music industry.

      • Anonymous says:

        Geoff, you are completely mistaken. There’s a lot of good reason to use anonymity as the world of classical music is pretty cut-throat and people aren’t always what meets the eye. Speak out and you can expect retribution. I should know, it’s happened to me many times. Of course she isn’t “directly” placing anyone in these positions, but the phone lines behind-the-scenes work pretty quickly. “Fecal sludge” – get a grip, or maybe speak for yourself. Comment from “Orchestra player” was spot on.

      • Tamino says:

        “gets them opportunities, mainly because they aren’t afforded them by the system in its current form,”

        Geoff, you are not in touch with reality and far behind in time. Ask some agents.
        In the current climate of quasi-maoist wokism, promoters are BEGGING agents for delivering the competent enough women conductors to them, but the supply isn’t there, not with quantity and quality combined.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, well you’re not anonymous and we all know what side of the equation you’re on. But you should be clear about your relationship. Kristin caused a lot of controversy back in Colorado when she entered into a relationship with the music director (Marin Alsop) at the time. Unfortunately for working musicians, they need to remain anonymous, as I have no doubt Marin would try to exact retribution given her bulldog-like reputation.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        This is multiply untrue. (1) Marin’s relationship has not bearing on her work. (2) Plenty of musicians are unafraid to appear under their own names on this site. (3) No evidence has ever reached us of ‘retribution’ by Marin Alsop. This commenter needs to own up or shut up.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wouldn’t you like that. Most of the musicians that are appearing under their own names are not generally active players that are being highly critical of established conductors that hold (unfortunately) power over the industry.

          You are free to censor me as you wish, as you often do. Sometimes the establishment doesn’t like the truth. Or maybe Marin’s on the other line.

          • Stephen Lord says:

            Hi there….your playing and excellence spoke for themselves the many times we worked together. I know all too well what being a target feels like. It always hurts even after years of it. I’m so happy you go forward with your head held high.

    • You-better-get-here says:

      100% true, Maestro Alsop, is a total abuser and a liar!! I’ve witnessed it first hand, several times. She should thank her PR team for her career. Her talent is that of a very rudimentary musician!!

  • E Rand says:

    Lol. Does she hear herself??
    “If you’re going to do a nasty portrayal, then you should use icky men! Wah!”

    You want equality? You got it.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    == I was offended as a lesbian.”

    Maybe this trait was what made Bernstein so interested M.A

    He admitted to getting so many photos taken with her that people would ask “Who is that girl?” Not many others took notice in those early days

  • Andrew Clark says:

    I saw Tar and interpreted it as what happens when the classical music industry elevates somebody through their cult of personality marketing circus. Superstar conductors were promoted as demi-gods. They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. I saw Tar as an indictment of the industry to a point.

  • japecake says:

    That a musician of Marin Alsop’s accomplishment could react to Tár like such a complete child is astounding and depressing. The idea that the title character is meant to stand in for all conductors, lesbians, or even women is ludicrous and anti-art.

  • Couperin says:

    Even more reason to see this film. Cate is a badass. After her study and preparation for that role, probably a better conductor now than some out there.

    • linz says:

      Who will be the first to invite her? Anyone ever see the Danny Kaye “What?” Symphony conductor bit? Orchestra musicians laughed so hard, they wet their pants, reportedly.

  • Leporello says:

    When will writers stop using the antiquated term ” Big Five ” to describe
    American orchestras ? The Baltimore Symphony is a major American orchestra as good as any out there ! And I’ll take
    JoAnn Falletta ( she’s a female conductor of a major American orchestra ) and the Buffalo Philharmonic over Nelsons and
    the Boston Symphony any day !

    • Bone says:

      Lots to unpack here.
      (1) Baltimore is not a top tier orchestra. Just stop.
      (2) Buffalo and Falletta are fantastic, but a very different skill level than Nelsons or Boston SO. Again, quit with the hyperbole.
      (3) Big 5 are still more or less Big 5…maybe move NYPO and replace with SFSO (and you could twist my arm with Philly and Nezet-Seguin vs Pittsburgh and Honeck), but otherwise the Big 5 are still intact.

  • Taly says:

    Couldn’t agree more. AND terrible “conducting”.

  • Another Orchestral Musician says:

    OMG seriously? Offended because of a freaking movie? It’s just a MOVIE.

    Give me a break.

    • linz says:

      I thought Blanchette made it a tour-de-force! Looked quite authentic, if a bit late in the timing. The script writers just needed some help with her bogus-sounding comments to the orchestra. Or they could have showed some smirking?

  • Jim says:

    As someone who had MA as a MD, she should stay out of this. Her mental and emotional abuse of orchestra members is well documented if not swept under the rug.

    • Tamino says:

      As an insider to the workflow of orchestra rehearsals and performance, I really would like to see a metastudy done based on those individual claims of mental and emotional abuse?

      How much of it was REALLY abuse? And how much simply would fall into the category of being challenged to do better by a leader, creating a certain intrinsic discomfort, then disliking the challenger?

      It’s not all abuse, even if the challenge or disagreement comes from a superior.
      I have witnessed too many lazy and uninspired orchestra musicians just barking back at the appointed alpha from the security of the pack.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Carly Simon said it best, “You’re So Vain” (“You probably think this song is about you…”)

  • CarlD says:

    Great film; tetchy, silly reaction.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Tar will have no impact on the classical music world whatever, just as Shine had no impact on filling concert halls to hear retarded pianists.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Please don’t use the word “retarded”. It is an acknowledged pejorative and disrespectful to your fellow human beings.

    • opus30 says:

      Recordings of Rach 3 certainly increased after “Shine”, if not the number of live performances.

  • James Weiss says:

    It’s fiction. Marin Alsop needs to grow up.

  • EastsideArts says:

    The really great conductors who happen to be female don’t blabber on about it all the time. Simone Young, JoAnn Faletta, Susanna Mälkki. etc. MA is so tedious!

    • Norabide Guziak says:

      Let’s add Jane Glover and Anne Manson to the list. Women who just got on with it when the industry didn’t genuflect in the face of their genitalia.

      • EastsideArts says:

        Ann Manson was pretty unimpressive when I played under her many years ago in the LA Phil. Perhaps she has improved sine then…….

        • opus30 says:

          She was very unimpressive during her brief, forgettable stay as music director and conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, some 20 years ago. I don’t think it’s even mentioned on her resume now.

    • Had Enough says:

      If all of us were to make a list of the movies that “offended” us on several fronts, it would be both tedious, lengthy and equally boring. Just get over yourself and move on.

  • mem says:

    Right on! Trenchant observation. (A job as film critic awaits her upon her retirement.) I can’t believe how many (male) movie critics from major international (leftwing) newspapers adoooore this film.

  • niloiv says:

    For a film, I found Tar more than decent. Maybe some details could be more polished, and I’d like a bit more focus on music itself (instead of a bunch of references to stories only known to classical music people).
    Theme-wise, mind darkness of different professions seems to become the new kirsch of Hollywood movies. Imposing it on a woman/lesbian does add another layer of complexity, but (at least for Tar) it hardly makes the movie any deeper or weaker than similar precedents.
    Finally, I don’t buy Alsop’s comment about ‘this could be so so many men, then why a lesbian woman’. But it’s easy to understand why she could feel offended on a personal level. Maybe the best response is to just laugh it off, or even make it a good joke for rehearsal segue ways. But what do I know then?

    • Patty Smith says:

      If she didn’t say anything – people would wonder why she didn’t speak up? It was a no win situation for her to take or not take the interview with the Sunday Times.
      She stood up for the women conductors and all conductors. Also – EVERYONE IS HUMAN. She is allowed to feel offended. As a woman, I was offended…especially since we need the big guys in the movies to help in classical music world not making movies and tearing our industry apart! Meanwhile they take all of their millions….it really was bad timing when women conductors are finally getting noticed. A movie about James Levine would have been much more interesting…

  • TrumpetinMajorOrch says:

    We all know that you can’t take the movie seriously because the writers of the film came up with the preposterous idea of having the trumpet play the opening of Mahler 5 offstage. That would never happen. Ever. It isn’t in the score that way, Mahler was very exact with his markings, and the principal trumpet wouldn’t be heard when the orchestra joins in. And no principal trumpet in any major orchestra would agree to perform it that way. Lame.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Welcome to the victimisation we have to put with, mostly for no reason. Hurts, doesn’t it?

  • Anonymous II says:

    I mostly agree with Marin, but without the passion about a fictional movie. The most truthful aspect is that a woman abuser was held accountable much faster than male abusers ever are. Perhaps the point is to see the abuse of power from a different angle. I am more concerned with the fact that regional professional orchestras in the US rarely audition women for music director jobs, even though there are now a lot of talented women out there (and have been for 30 years now). Without that opportunity, it’s hard to get experience to grow. If you’ve seen the level of the male regional orchestra conductors, you’d likely agree that creative, hard-working, talented women certainly couldn’t do worse…

  • Franky says:

    Imagine thinking a movie is about you. Sit down and be humble. You can be offended all you want but women are human, and so are men. You’re not going to find what you want in someone in this movie; it’s complicated, like real life.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Fact; women can be just as toxic as men. It just manifests differently, that’s all. As I said to the spouse recently, “we’ve had mother-in-law jokes for centuries; when are we going to get them about daughters-in-law?” You know, like Meghan Markle!!

    I admire Ms Alsop but I think she’s wrong, according to what is written above. Equal opportunity means everything negative as well as everything positive – else it’s faux.

  • T says:

    The part that is amazing to me about this movie is that it says “yes this could be anybody” and that’s very true. Only a truly ignorant person would disqualify women, lesbian or not, from being a conductor after seeing this movie.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Films about lesbians are made because young men (the bulk of the movie-going audience) find that titillating and will buy tickets.

    They will not do the same for a film about male same-sex narratives. They will not even admit they have heard of such films.

    No need to inform me about the rare counter-examples.

  • Adam Stern says:

    I cannot get behind those who toss the issue off with an “It’s only a movie” shrug. Considerable attention is currently being paid to the long history of those who have been misrepresented in films; scenes and characterizations are being attacked, apologized for, justified (not always successfully), even excised.

    I know that the honest and accurate representation of ethnic groups, those of all sexual orientations and gender identifications, etc., is of greater import than my pride in being a musician. That does not, however, mitigate my being affronted by films containing erroneous and risible depictions of classical musicians, in which category I wholeheartedly place “Tár”.

    • Orchestral Musician says:

      “films containing erroneous and risible depictions of classical musicians” is a long standing tradition in the film/TV industry. They never, ever get it right. Did you expect “Tár” would accurately depict classical musicians, and the music profession? Or course, it does not.
      The movie is a fictional psychological drama that employs absurd depictions of the classical music world as a “vehicle.”
      The main character does not resemble Marin Alsop.

    • japecake says:

      So all lesbians, women, and conductors have to be portrayed in an unfailingly positive light, eh? Madonna complex much? No complexity allowed? Did you similarly clutch your pearls at the Mozart of Amadeus and the Beethoven of Immortal Beloved?

      • Adam Stern says:

        No, not in an “unfailingly positive light”, but •accurately• (big difference).

        I did not see “Immortal Beloved”, but yes, I did have issues with Mozart as portrayed in “Amadeus” — not because the acting or production values were inferior, but because Mozart as presented was vastly different from the person he really was, and the story a massive re-write of history (sorry, folks, Salieri had nothing to do with his death). This concoction was presented to a public already ignorant of these matters, many of whom accepted it as biopic gospel.

        And no, I’m not comforted by the specious argument, “But it did so much to make Mozart’s music more popular.” I’d much have an uninformed public than a misinformed one.

      • Adam Stern says:

        much •rather• have

  • Orchestral Musician says:

    Oh, PLEASE! The fictional character “Lydia Tár” does not resemble Marin Alsop in the least.
    Furthermore, the film is not a documentary about “women as leaders in our society”, it is a psychological drama about….well, I won’t spoil it.

  • Thornhill says:

    The reason that Tar is a woman is to make the point that absolute power corrupts absolutely, that this is a universal aspect of human nature. It’s not about who makes better or worse leaders — it’s about how dangerous cult of personality is.

  • Pauker says:

    Good for her. I founf the film disgusting.

  • Paul says:

    I would have loved to have heard Mahler’s 5 in a movie about a conductor conducting Mahler’s 5

  • Gustavo says:

    Would love to hear JK Rowling’s opinion here.

  • Cavaradossi says:

    I have always been represented by the largest music agencies in the world and they always advised me never to answer under my real name on slipped disc. And it was not one agency – I have been working with several and they all advised me the same. I wonder why….

    Name me one conductor with a certain name/reputation who has publicly aired his identity on slipped disc and become embroiled in a discussion with far-reaching consequences like this one – not one. I stand to be corrected.

    But what I will say is that every top-tier soloist I know (and I know many) who has worked with MA lament that she lacks the minimum professional skills required by a conductor in the first division and we all wonder how she is so well considered. They also privately concur with what is the general opinion in musical circles – if MA were male she would not enjoy any success today.

    It’s frankly disastrous to the arts that gender equality is now more important than artistic quality. The last attack on Froschauer at the VPO shows what’s wrong with it all – of course it should be an artistic decision who conducts the New Year’s Concert, like it has always been.

    As the artistic director of an orchestra with a 20 million euro budget i have noticed how the first 10-15 “leading” female conductors are booked out for the next 4-5 years – but the big agencies still have loads of younger women to offer, all of whom are conducting the major repertoire for the first time. I was even offered a female conductor by a major london agency who had only conducted two professional symphony orchestras in her entire career and when I asked how could they be signing up such inexperienced conductors the answer was that most orchestras, especially US orchestras, now have the unwritten rule that at least 40% of the guest conductors must be female, regardless of their quality.

    I even have a male conducting colleague who had been unofficially confirmed by the Intendant of a regional opera house in Germany as the new GMD, only to be told 3 months later that the mayor of the town insisted the new GMD be female and he was powerless to see through their original agreement.

    Another artistic director colleague of mine who programmes one of the leading radio orchestras in Europe was in dismay when he was imposed by politicians a female chief conductor who based on her qualities would not have even entered his guest conductors list.

    There was recently a public competition for an assistant conductor position with one of the great orchestras in the world and when I asked how a certain female conductor had reached the finals I was told by a member of the jury that they were “told” that at least one woman needed to be included in the final. That same woman candidate had previously guest-conducted my orchestra and received a collective vote of less than 25% from the orchestra musicians to return as a guest conductor.

    I could go on and on – the list is endless -!but we have no choice but to keep quiet if we want to hold our jobs.

    So there you have it – those are facts from an anonymous artistic director of a professional symphony orchestra in Europe, who needs to remain anonymous like most of my male colleagues if he wants to keep his job.

    So less rumours and more hardcore facts would be appreciated so we can finally get to grips with the fact that the music world has really gone mad.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Leonard Slatkin, Fabio Luisi, many more. Your generalisations are absurd.

      • Tamino says:

        While we have seen the occasional post by both distinguished gentlemen under their real name (actually the format here allows only for the trusting assumption that they actually were behind those screen names) I BET you, they also post – when it gets more controversial and risky – under pseudonyms in anonymity. I would, if I were them…

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        I don’t consider myself young, old, just in the middle having seen trends come and go. In my younger years, it was the ticket to want to be a concert pianist, enter competitions, win some, lose some, get a manager (they’ll make you a star!?!?), and let the career blossom organically. I have seen demographic shifts pertaining to nationality, gender, etc. Today, one thing is hot and you jump for it. The next day, something else. Like in any business, new sells, new trends sell. In the end,however, what sustains and passes the test of time, is inevitably substance and legacy. At 61, I am coming to terms with the idea that everything we do, everything we are in the physical life is a test of everything we leave behind for the betterment of others, expanding our craft and leaving a healthy mark from our existence. I have total respect for everyone, regardless of their opinions, because that is what makes us different, and, frankly, that is what makes the world go around. It is doubtful the film will be a ‘must have’ in twenty, thirty years. Interesting how ‘The Wizard of Oz’ lives on. Why? Because everything about the story reflects life. There is imagination, there is a yellow brick road (I always tell young students, ‘follow YOUR yellow brick road’), there are good people (you just need friends with a brain, a heart, and courage), mentors (Glinda), and wicked witches around the bend using their winged monkeys to do their dirty work. Then, there are wizards who profess and scare people to think they are more than they are, but are basically simple people hiding behind a curtain. So, why this narrative? In any business, we have to be savvy and recognize the trends for whatever reasons they may be. For me, waiting for the ‘wizards’ to make a career, or allowing the witches to push the dreams back, it seems more productive to work around all of the above. We can bring many people together and avoid the drama, and work around the drama collectively and creatively. It can never, ever be about ‘us’. That is the turn off the main highway that causes all the problems. I am not a preacher, nor perfect, and along ‘my’ yellow brick road, there have been twists and curves, gains and losses, but that is life. In the end, how do we want to be remembered? I have never worked with Marin Alsop, but I will say this. She has always respectfully responded timely to my suggestions for repertoire, some almost happened, but could not because, for instance, a composer could not be present for the occasion, whatever. I don’t find anything productive or contributing much here, except that I don’t hide behind a name, and learn so much actually, reading this website. It validates so much, on both ends of the spectrum. Believe me, by next year, it won’t matter. With the speed of technology, everything comes and goes. What’s ‘in’ today will still be ‘in’ next year, but there will be something else. Toothpaste is similar, and there will be new ones next year. Nothing lasts forever.

      • Cavaradossi says:

        Well judging from the thumbs down to your answer not many here agree with you!

        My generalisations are truthful – another thing is if you like them or not. And I have not seen neither Slatkin nor Luisi enter into discussions of these type of far-reaching consecuences.

        But what is absurd is your sometimes lack of criteria and backbone – with you one day it’s blue and another it’s black. One day an artist is wonderful and they are the best thing since sliced bread and before you know it the same artist has only an endless amount of flaws and is in your bad books.

        And your endless obsession on trying to deflate the maestro’s myth because you clearly hate the power they yield and yet again, in typical contradiction, that’s the same power you yield in your own opinions and writings of some artists you don’t know or have even bothered to investigate properly, as many other readers here complain about – but you have no trouble in crushing them down here whenever you feel like it. And if you decide to censor me you will ironically
        be no different to the behaviour of those same autocrats you clearly loathe.

    • Gustavo says:

      It sounds like your current job isn’t very fulfilling.

    • linz says:

      Would anyone like to discuss whether or not a conductor’s >technique, or
      >ideas about interpretation, programming, reliability in performances, listening skills, ability to identify talent at auditions, or tact in rehearsal
      are more important?

  • Gustavo says:

    In fact, you have just created the greatest rumour about yourself.

  • her royal snarkiness says:

    It’s only ten in the morning,and I’m thinking I should have poured a drink before I read the comments. Oh, the whining, the schadenfreude, the wannabe expertise. Everyone’s a critic and a maven. Including moi, I suppose!

  • Max Raimi says:

    On a more broad note, an identification with classical music in cinema seems like a shorthand for ludicrous or evil characters. His family of classical musicians was the evil tyranny that Jack Nicholson struggles against in the awful “Five Easy Pieces”; he seduces his brother’s lover, since his brother, being a classical musician, is not manly enough for her. Hannibal blissfully listens to the Goldberg Variations after chomping a guy’s face off, and Blofeld, the James Bond villain, feeds his victim to the sharks while enjoying a recording of the Mozart K. 467 Piano Concerto.
    If somebody loves classical music in a film, it is all too often a code that they are out of touch or diabolical. It is one of the few remaining permissible stereotypes.

    • Old Man in the Midwest says:

      The sad thing is that the CSO as well as all American orchestras are relying on film scores played live to movies to make their nut.

      In film, the music is ALWAYS subservient to music. And don’t say well there’s Williams, Rota, and Herrmann. It’s still second to what is on the screen.

      A very sad trend indeed.

      • Max Raimi says:

        Not sure what this has to do with my point, but irrelevance is never a deterrent for a slam at the CSO, is it Old Man? Why don’t you either enlighten us as to what expenses we should forego or alternatively tell us how to earn the revenue we would lose by eschewing film performances?
        I remember the first time we did a John Williams night at Ravinia. My beloved former colleague, the late oboist Richard Kanter remarked “All my colleagues have two things to say about this. First, ‘How demeaning we have to play this populist commercial dreck!’ Second, ‘Can I get tickets for my family tonight?'”

        • Old Man in the Midwest says:

          I was lamenting the trend. That movies are needed to make money. It’s sad that even the CSO has to do this. But you seem to enjoy it so glad it all works out.

    • Sam McElroy says:

      So true. Just last night I saw a movie with a scene in a mad house. The maddest of them all was distinguished not only by his fascinatingly irregular physiognomy, but by his spellbound attention to the music of Debussy! And on a turntable, of course! Nothing crazier than vinyl! According to movies, classical music is for the rich and… insane! Awful clichés persist, unchallenged. You’re so right.

    • Dan says:

      The scene in Alien where Riley goes to the pod to chill and listen to Mozart and look at the stars is the one counter-example I can think of.

  • Chris says:

    This article has proven prophetic. It’s the only analysis I saw to suggest that the character of Tar was based on Alsop. And its interpretation of the film’s message aligns entirely with Alsop’s, aside from the fact that the author considers it a good thing that we have the same expectations of powerful women that we do of powerful men:

  • linz says:

    Remember “A Late Quartet”? The movie that contained every bit of gossip from at least 4 generations of professional string quartets into one scandal-ridden quartet, with the wonderful Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the cellist? The movie “Tar” also collects actual (male) conductor misbehaviors, lets the great Cate Blanchette portray them. Proving a negative is impossible (but reliable sources… etc.), and showing classical ensembles as soap operas is entertaining. The conductor behavior in “Tar” is the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to male conductors. After all, Tar wasn’t in the pocket of a dictator with access to 5000 atomic bombs. For Tar to touch a student’s knee in a masterclass and make a personal comment is only horrifying in the context of the last 30 years. It used to be normal. People in positions of authority need to evolve, understand new rules, and the slowpokes can get sued, thank the goddess; this makes room for new talent. Ethical lapses make it hard to appreciate great performances and recordings, like the white relatives of Thomas Jefferson not blaming him for owning slaves, but his descendents of color being less forgiving.
    If musicians in well-run orchestras are legitimately persuaded about a conductor’s musical ideas, often, astute audiences, managers, boards of directors, and recording company executives are too. But when musicians have been traumatized by past personal, financial, or labor-relations abuse, or bored for years, hopefully now the news gets out, and it sounds like artistic problems. Almost everybody craves a trancendant musical performance, and conductors can provide those, but if their behavior has destroyed their credibility, (somtimes) things don’t gel.
    It’s nice to have the movie version of this, regardless of gender politics, but it isn’t fair or historically accurate to imply that female conductors are prone (ew, sorry!) to it.
    If there had been a disclaimer in “Tar”’s credits, with links to Youtube videos of Toscaninni and Celibidache reaming out their orchestras, and press accounts of famous conductors’ personal, political, and professional peccadillos, showing that (musical) power corrupt(-ed) and absolute (musical) power corrupt(ed) absolutely, the geeks would have loved it.
    If US non-profit law mandated 51% musician membership on orchestra boards of directors, ratification of Music Director hires, term limits, 10% musician-chosen guest conductors every season, it could revive the industry.

  • mark (london) says:

    Its fiction. but maybe Alsop thinks its never possible that a lesbian can be such a bad person .. get real Marin

  • Monty Earleman says:

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much…..

  • Wise Guy says:

    As someone who has followed closely with dismay Alsop’s machinations in Colorado, California, Bournemouth, Baltimore, and Chicago, I immediately saw her likeness in the Blanchett character. The team of expert handlers to spin everything her way, the usurious career climbing, the pitting players against each other, and most of all, the fabrication of being the protegè of Bernstein posthumously all were derived from Alsop to help form a fictitious character. It had to be a woman to ring true with what we have seen in the music business.
    It’s regrettable that the movie didn’t also show the Berlin Phil get bankrupted through the character draining their funds. It’s about time this website trains it attention to what has been done, loyalties be damned.

  • Juliet Holmes Court says:

    I’m a music ignoramus. I’m an artist, a painter. I so often cringe when I see painters depicted in film.. how they hold their palette wrongly, how they mix their paint and oh, the dainty daubs or drunken splats…. I think any art form depicted in film, and at times literature, feels like a fraud to those that know that world. It’s only by suspending your ‘truth’ of the artform you live and breath, that you can start to accept an ‘outsider’s’ depiction of that secret world. I find it hard to do. Surely though, we as artists should be the first to grant fellow artists, of all genres the freedom to express their art… however much it makes us cringe!