The New York Times reported yesterday that Patelson Music House (on 56th Street across the street from Carnegie Hall’s stage door) will be closing at the end of April. It was without a doubt the greatest music store I ever shopped in, and I can’t even imagine how many hundreds of dollars I must have spent there in the late ’70s when I lived in the New York area. It was always a stop on my Saturday shopping excursions in the city. I still remember having a fresh score in a crisp paper bag to look at while on the train home from Penn Station to Long Island. The Times article describes the sales clerks as cantankerous; I would describe them as mostly crabby with a lot of attitude. (I always figured that most of the clerks were wannabe musicians who couldn’t make it only on music performing, but still needed to make ends meet in NYC and working at Patelson’s was an honorable compromise.) But the store was always full of people of all sorts, and the selection great.
Alas, it is the victim of (1) not many people interested in classical music anymore; and (2) the rise of Internet sales. It’s not the same–it’s not really possible to tell from an online catalog listing whether a piece is something you want to learn. Sometimes you need to “read” a score to decide whether or not to buy it.
I’m afraid it’s another case of progress being a step backwards.