More on Rosenberg: a reply from the Cleveland Orchestra

This afternoon I approved a comment submitted on my post from yesterday about Donald Rosenberg’s dismissal as the music critic of Cleveland Orchestra concerts.  The comment wasn’t just from any old reader; it was from Gary Hanson, the Executive Director of the Cleveland Orchestra.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I do know Gary Hanson, and have had some business dealings with him in my role as Deputy Director of the Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University.)  Gary’s full comment can be found here, but the gist of it is in his first couple of paragraphs:

In recent days, the music writers’ blogsphere has been rife with assumptions and even accusations that the management of The Cleveland Orchestra engineered personnel changes at Cleveland’s daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer. These accusations are false.

I want to set the record straight: I was completely surprised by the news last week that Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg has been re-assigned and will no longer cover The Cleveland Orchestra for the newspaper.

He goes on to state his admiration of Rosenberg’s history of the Cleveland Orchestra, and his respect for journalistic freedom without interference from the Orchestra.

I have no reason to disbelieve Gary Hanson (other than from a very cynical viewpoint that, as a former PR man himself, he would say anything necessary to put the Orchestra into the best possible light), and he undoubtedly does have a public relations problem (hence posting a comment on an pretty much unknown—albeit Cleveland local—blog such as Virtual Farm Boy).  Whether the Orchestra did or did not intervene directly in a personnel and editorial matter at the Plain Dealer is at this point somewhat irrelevant; the perception is out there that it happened, and it does not take a brilliant mind to leap to what may be an erroneous conclusion.  To my knowledge, the management of the Plain Dealer has so far been silent on the situation.  Another interpretation is that the Plain Dealer editorial staff just got tired of the complaints about Rosenberg’s consistently negative reviews about Franz Welser-Möst and decided themselves to reshuffle the music critic deck.  Unfortunately, if so, they didn’t do any favors for their friends at Severance Hall.

Progress on the house organ

Last Sunday, July 2nd, was the big party that George and I had to celebrate our 25th anniversary. (Can it really be 25 years ago that we got together?) The party was also supposed to be the inauguration of my house organ. But the date was chosen arbitrarily, and Tim Hemry, the organ builder never promised, and the organ isn’t complete yet. But there’s good progress, and I hope in the next month or six weeks it will be finished.

He did deliver the console to my house on the Friday evening before the party, so there is something to show. (More pics posted soon.) The console is beautiful, as well as being in mint condition.

Now I’m anxious for the whole thing to be done!

Progress on the house organ

Pipes being racked Stop tabs

I’m starting to get antsy to have the new organ installed in my house. Tim Hemry, the builder, is feeding me tantalizing photos every few days, so I know that progress is being made. The photo on the left shows the pipes being racked in the shop. They will eventually sit on top of the case that contains the wind chest. The photo on the right shows the stop tabs, just back from the engraver, using the font Skia that I chose for the engraving. They look great! Hopefully in the next month it will be in the house.

Preparations for the House Organ

Preparation in the studio for the organ
In January I signed a contract with Tim Hemry, a local organ builder, to make a small practice pipe organ for my house. This has meant that I had to clear out the studio where all of my computer equipment and my Chickering grand piano has been kept, along with about a ton of other stuff. George I spent the day today clearing out the closet and the studio, carrying enormous quantities to the basement, as well as out to the trash. I finally had to move my car to the street to have more room for filled trash bags in the garage. But as you can see from the photo, we accomplished the goal. The next step will be the installation of new flooring (wooden) in the room, and some electrical work. The installation will be in May or early June.

Musical hallucinations? I thought it was normal.

Today’s New York Times has an article about the phenomenon of “musical hallucinations” in which people start to hear music in their minds that appears to be real to them. This “disease” is thought to be much more common than the number of diagnoses would indicate, since it commonly is not reported. The article describes how the composer Robert Schumann (who had a history of mental illness) wrote down the music he hallucinated–he was taking dictation, he said, from Franz Schubert’s ghost.

This is an interesting article for me, because it appears that I “suffer” from this “disease.” I always have music in my mind, and I have always had it in my mind from as far back as I can remember. Sometimes it is music that I have heard on the radio or played on the stereo at home; sometimes it is music that I am rehearsing or performing, or have recently performed. The worst is after I give a recital, I tend to “replay” the recital over and over and over again in my mind for several days, especially focussing on aspects that did not go well. The music may not be a complete song, it may be simply a phrase that replays again and again in my mind. (This morning, I have a couple of phrases from John Tavener’s “The Veil of the Temple” on constant loop in the background. But on any given day, it could be anything, mostly classical, but not always.) Sometimes it is music unheard before. The point is, it’s always there.

But I have never felt that there was anything wrong with this music on the brain; in fact, I’ve always just assumed that it was normal and that everybody has it. It’s only fairly recently that I discovered that not everybody does; then I got to wondering if, for example, mathematicians have formulas running through their minds all the time, in the same way that I’m hearing music. A year or so I described my personal phenomenon to a friend of mine, thinking that it would be a shared experience, and he really looked at me as if I was crazy. He had no relationship to it at all. When I tell people that I can’t imagine not having music in my life, I mean it literally.

As the article describes, I have learned to “tune it out”, for instance if I am in a business meeting, or my mind is focussed on listening to a talk show on NPR. And the music in my mind never overtakes what I am performing at any given time–at those times, my mind is “in synch” with itself.

So am I crazy? I don’t think so, since I am able to function normally in every aspect of my life. And since the music has always been with me, I don’t see it as anything unnatural. Most of the time I rather enjoy it, and I can’t imagine being without it. Lucky me!