Cher Public

A Noisy Place

lenny_thumbTwo versions, and it’s hard to say which one is more revolting, of one of the least savory moments in the life of Leonard Bernstein.


From Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos

  • Fag on fag bullying is so distasteful.

    • And, at times, so much more destructive than the hetero on gay kind, just ask Hoover. This is one of the reasons I’m loving the “it gets better” and the “it doesn’t get better, you get stronger” video series. We’re past that point where it was every queer person for themselves no matter the cost thank goodness.

    • mrmyster

      i’ve heard this anecdote about LB over the years from several sources;
      I would agree that he was a craven man of very low character, but he
      was a splendid musician and sometimes a good composer.
      Let’s let it rest.

      • I only half agree. I think it needs to be told and discussed because if not, then it is almost like the elephant in the room. This kind of behavior has not entirely died and it is now used in politics with the intent of destroying lives, STILL.


        Yes, you are right, Lenny was a great musician and a decent composer. I am sure, well, no, I hope he regreted his behavior latter in life but to just ignore this kind of behavior won't do. First of all it insults Dimitri Mitropoulos, who was a victim and second it only paints a half picture of Lenny. The fact that he got where he got my smearing others should in a certain way smear his own legacy; just like it smeared Mitropoulos at the time.

      • I only half agree. I think it needs to be told and discussed because if not, then it is almost like the elephant in the room. This kind of behavior has not entirely died and it is now used in politics with the intent of destroying lives, STILL.

        Yes, you are right; Lenny was a great musician and a decent composer. I am sure, well, no, I hope he regretted his behavior latter in life but to just ignore this kind of behavior won't do. First of all it insults Dimitri Mitropoulos, who was a victim and second it only paints a half picture of Lenny. The fact that he got where he got my smearing others should in a certain way smear his own legacy; just like it smeared Mitropoulos at the time.

        • luvtennis


          I strongly disagree. However, awful this anecdote sounds, let’s remember that this was a private matter between grown-ups who knew each other. NO ONE CAN NOW KNOW what really happened. No one.

          Now, if Bernstein or some other gay musician came out publicly and fought against gay causes or used his position as a podium from which to broadcast self-hatred, then I would agree with you.

          But this is NOT that case. We have no idea what really happened. Surely, you know how dangerous it can be to form opinions about private matters based on hearsay.

          Come on.

          • Now, if Bernstein or some other gay musician came out publicly and fought against gay causes or used his position as a podium from which to broadcast self-hatred, then I would agree with you.

            And I disagree. Just because someone does it in public and someone does it while hiding doesn’t make it any less hateful or wrong.

            Now, I agree that we do not know what happened for sure, but there are plenty of people who had dealings with Lenny that could testify whether this is what happened or whether this was Lenny’s way of dealing with things.

            Now, whether it happened in private or in public should not matter. how many people do you know will smile at you, be extremely polite but when you turn around they say the most horrible things about you. Does the fact that they are polite make them less hypocritical? Should their politeness shield them from criticism? Should their smile make them seem less bigoted?

            Come on.

          • luvtennis


            My point is a simple one and not tailored to this particular case. It is dangerous to form opinions about someone based on something that took place in private between adults. Even individuals involved in the incident may not know all sides.

            What if it came out that DM had done something awful to Bernstein?

            Would that alter your opinion of the affair? Judging others is always dangerous especially when it concerns private matters. Had Lenny been convicted of a crime that would be one thing and a matter of public record. This is entirely different.

            By the way, someone who knows you has privately told me that you sometimes pass the time watching the Beck Show or worse, Dancing with the Stars. Am I to believe such horrors based only on hearsay?


          • Just like I said in my original comment, fag on fag bullying is distasteful, no matter who originated it.

            You can believe the whole Dancing with the Stars bit; 100% true. I actually write recaps of the show for a blog and i am not ashamed of admitting it, mostly because I have no shame.

            The beck bit, well, I’d do him, 3 times: once to say I did, twice to say he came back for more, 3rd to say I had the pleasure of turning him down. As for watching him, well, people will believe what they want.

            How many years has the Jimmy Levine machine been challenging the rumors that he is gay?

          • luvtennis

            Okay, the whole Beck thing has just gotten my day off on the wrong foot.


            WHat were were talking about anyway.

          • manou
  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I tried to find the operatic version of “Shake em up”, but this was the next best thing:

  • peter

    I read the first version of that story in a fascinating biography of Dimitri M. called Priest of Music by William R. Trotter. Both versions are pretty awful.

  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    Disgraceful stuff. Over here all of the chaps who wield the stick have been fine, upstanding married men.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Yeah, you send the pervs over here to infest our opera companies!

    • Like Benjamin Britten (remember the red house?) or Jeffrey Tate? Though the term ‘up-standing’ seems to me to be missapplied in the latter’s case. I love Tate’s Cosi from Garnier.

      • Henry Holland

        What’s the name of the British choral conductor who got nicked for taking an interest in underage lads beyond their singing ability?

        Isn’t Christopher Hogwood gay?

        • armerjacquino

          Hogwood is openly so. My dad worked with him on a TV project back in the 80s, and for years afterwards we would get very camp and very lavish (printed) Christmas Cards signed by him and his partner.

        • mrmyster

          Yes, CH is; but he’s a gentleman about it.

        • “All of them.”

        • Nerva Nelli

          Robert King, no?

      • Harry

        And it must be said Tate could conduct a hell of a good Wagner Ring too.

      • luvtennis


        Please point me to the sources of these tiddybits. I need a dose of salaciousness.

        By the way, am I the only person who thinks that Anna Netrebko would benefit greatly if we took all her Mirella Freni records away from her.

        I just listened to the Salzburg Traviata, and I can’t help thinking how much Anna sounds like Mirella in that music. The timbre is darker, but it has the same solidity that makes Mirella’s Violetta both lovely and ultimately disappointing. It’s like the outlines (or the skeleton) of Violetta, but all the colors, phrasing, tiny moments that make a great Violetta are just missing. Mirella, at least, had a naturally more colorful tone -- Anna’s voice is so dark and essentially heavy most of the time. And both sopranos fall into the “I-can-sing-most-of-the-florid-stuff-mostly-accurately-but-I-ain’t-enjoying-it-and-you-probably-won’t-either” category of lyric sopranos.

        • Well, Tate’s sexuality has never been a secret, and as for The Red House, juicy stories abound and even Sir JE Gardiner points to his horror while visiting that establishment as a child.

          As for salaciousness, you can always open the Cody Cummings site, not so ? :)

          Mama, this is getting frightening!

          The first time I heard Netrebko’s voice I thought “well, she reminded me of someone, but then who?” and it took a few minutes and then BAM -- Freni.

          Essentially, I think they share the almost the same timbre and therefore limitations. Both had started as light lyrics, Freni with the Zerlinas and Susannas and Nannettas, Netrebko perhaps undergoing more heavy schedule for the Mariinsky repertoire. Both have largely different mother tongues which shape their respective vowels and voice production -- the Italian more up-front, more bright and in the mask, the Russian darker. Netrebko’s gift is that her voice has a very natural forward placement which helps her a lot in the Western repertoire -- this has hindered the success of many a Russian sopranos in western rep, for example Gorchakova, which later on simply struggled and gagged on anything above F.

          Freni’s original, beautiful timbre can be heard on many pirates, and especially on one of her earliest studios -- the Schippers Boheme from 1962-1963, roughly contemporaneous with her touring Giulini Nannettas -- also preserved from Amsterdam, and also the Solti studio Falstaff, which was recorded at around the same time. The early documents show a perfectly placed lyrical leggiero, with wonderful command of dynamics even in alt. Florid work was never exemplary, rather heavily handled, as shown in a Puritani mad scene. But then it was rarely cultivated in Italy around the fifties (or elsewhere, except in France or the USA. Callas, Sutherland were freaks in their day). But then she fell into Karajan’s trap and the rest is well known and documented. The loss of dymanic control -- compare her 1972 Berlin Boheme with her Mimi ten years earlier -- for Karajan she sings all out, the voice is probably unable to control softer dynamics above E-F. The tone is still free and unstrained but much is gone already. The 1974 Butterfly has that faculty somewhat restored, but the Davis Susanna and Zerlina, from the same period, show a singer sadly unable to control the tone and the Susanna even has bewildering moments of pitch instability. After that came the hysterical Amelia, Tosca, Elisabetta and, heaven forbid, that disastrous Aida (which nevertheless has its own idiosyncratic interpretative merits). By the 1980s she became a spinto of sorts, the voice noticeably grown but frayed. The Muti Leonora shows a severe lack of casting judgement. For Verdi she lost the line. Puccini was still impressive because she was committed and brave, and intelligently moving enough. But I emphatically do not see Freni’s career development as vocally integrated or wisely judged.

          Netrebko’s career takes a different turn. The Mariinsky Lyudmilla from 1994 shows a wonderfully light, both full and airy instrument. Pretty nimble and able to encompass the florid opening aria.

          Again, the voice isn’t so forward or pure as the earliest Freni documents, but there’s a lot going for Netrebko here, for the purity and considerable agility. Like Freni, she lost the ability to ‘float’ the high piannissimi very early on. But the early work has some sincere moments, the Rusalka aria, the Donna Anna, even in the big Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg. The bel canto album shows the first signs of heaviness, or laziness or what have you. Coached by Scotto for this album, it is a total let-down. The only saving grace, requested by Abbado, is a wonderful Desdemona scene, in which she sounds totally different, open, pure and sincere. Incidentally, the only item in the album for which she wasn’t coached by Scotto. This might raise a question whether a great singer is by definition also a great coach / teacher. Bergonzi, referred to elsewhere in a near thread, is widely known in Europe as a perfectly ghastly teacher.

          The notorious Salzburg Drecker Traviata is a case in point. This is emphatically NOT a role in which one may count on scoring an artistic triumph by “getting the emotion” and riding on the wind of the moment. The role calls for immaculate preparation of the various effects and tricks. You have to know what to do, absolutely, each and every moment. It’s all about letting go for an instant (“morro!” or “Onguno in terra salvarmi e dato… Gran Dio”) and reigning in. The third act calls for a vast palette of colours and demi-tones (voce bianco, mezza voce, sfogato etc) and natural, spontaneous vocalists like Freni or Netrebko just can’t do justice to the dramatic impersonation or the music. Hence, the ‘liberated’ Salzburg Traviata was not a disaster, but not a particulary interesting or composer-worthy achievement either. She sang the role a lot better back in Vienna, a few years ealier.

          The various bel-canto forays are not particularly successful either. I would not call them debacles though. Her coloratura can certainly be unyielding, the phrasing careless, but the tone can be gorgeous sometimes (“Soffriva nel pianto” or “Rendetemi la speme”), and there’s an undeniable sense of esprit. And she will drop these roles soon, no doubt, biding time until she can come up with a really successful Tosca (in her very early forties), Tatiana (for which she still has the looks) and Butterfly. The voice has grown, gained ‘weight’ and become darker, but it is a natural growth and she never sounds pushed or strained (except for the unwisely essayed top E flats in her bel canto roles). Norma is not an option, will never be an option and I don’t think she’ll sing it after her first Toscas. I’m far from being happy or enchanted with a large percentage of her work, but she is pacing it wisely until the voice is mature enough. I do not think she will sing Aida, both Leonoras or Amelia in Ballo, but Boccanegra is definitely a later option, as is Lisa.

          • Agree about the smilarities b/w Freni and Netrebko. Another role for Anna: Manon Lescaut.

          • luvtennis


            All I can write is WORD. I am often baffled by the reaction of critics to Freni. Yes, the basic vocal mechanism was healthy, but the chinks in the technical armor have always diminished my enjoyment of her often lovely singing. I never felt her Susanna was first-class, at least on record.

            Have you read the Opera News interview. I have to say that I find myself falling for Anna for the first time. Her honesty, humor and silliness are just so endearing.

            I worry about her moving into the heavy Verdi spinto roles.

            I have never heard her live, but I do not get the sense that her voice is larger than Leontyne’s. It needs to be if she tries to sing those roles with her current technique. Lee used her control over head resonance and the forward placement of the tone and the incredible breath support to sing that music without self-destructing. I don’t know if Anna understands how important those things will be to ensure vocal survival if she starts singing Trovatore, Ernani, or brace yourselves, Aida.

            That said, there is in her the ability to be great in that rep, but man she needs TO WORK WORK WORK!!!!!

            Verdi kills throaty singers. Even large dramatic voices die in Verdi if they are not forward in placement or if the breath support is flawed.

            Just kills them dead.

          • luvtennis

            Also, it’s strange how singers and mentors work out. HvK was magic with Maria and, especially Lee. He was NOT a positive influence on Janowitz, except for the career opportunities. (The last thing Gundy needed was someone who wanted her to sing with even LESS color and emotion.)

            Perhaps the issue is strength of will. Maria was what she was -- HvK was not going to affect her career trajectory in any way. Lee had the courage and self-belief to say NO to the crazy shit. Salome at 30? (You will be a sensation, Cara). Perhaps Elektra and Turandot at 40? (I will keep the orchestra low for you -- it’s all just Chamber Music, Carissima!)

            Freni -- early on the relationship was beneficial to her. HvK gave her a sense of refinement that was perhaps lacking in her earliest work. But then the rep choices just got more ridiculous. Sorry, but the mere fact that she COULD sing Aida and Elizabetta does not mean that she was wise to do so.

            Ricciarelli -- well, let’s not go there.

          • luvtennis


            Would it frighten you even more to know that I would have included every single point of your post in mine, if I could type faster and had more trust in my proofreading skills?

            I see one key difference between Freni and Anna. Anna still has room to grow with that voice. By 74, Mirella’s had no room to grow except apart, if you catch my drift. The voice actually became several voices although she was skillful enough to conceal that fact EXCEPT in Verdi which exposed everything.

            That Forza Leonora is Muti’s greatest sin. Although the Ernani Elvira is not far behind. What on earth was he thinking? It’s like he said, what two operas will be the worst possible choices for Mirella that I can trick her into singing.

          • Yes, very frightening.

            Tell me when you go visit your dad ;)

            Proofreading, tosh. I never proofread. My English is bad as it is, why should I voluntarily come face to face with my written-out horrors?

          • luvtennis

            He comes here for Christmas to visit me and to place flowers on my mother’s grave. He still carries the torch years after the divorce and subsequent annulment.

            But I am there for 3 weeks next summer for one of my cousins wedding! They all live in the same place. It’s crazy and heartwarming and crazy.

          • You mamma too, huh…

            A Catalan wedding, amazing.

    • mrmyster

      Yep, Vicar, like Ray Leppard and John Pritchard!
      A model for us all!

    • Regina delle fate

      The late lamented Johnnie Pritchard? And he was pretty well openly gay when it was illegal and punishable by a prison sentence….

      We have several maestri who are, to say the least, a bit doubtful.

      • Tubsinger

        Regina, I think you’ve touched on a point of which younger people aren’t insufficiently aware. It’s not just that homosexuality was illegal for so long, it was simply not tolerated in its “own” circles many times. What I had always read about the Boston appointment in the late 40s was that Koussevitzky needed no prodding to turn away from Mitropolous, as his sexuality and lifestyle were far too flamboyant and well-known even for serious consideration, much less appointment. As such, he gave a stern warning to LB to “tone it down,” as it were--advising him that DM “was a pederast” and that he suspected LB “was one, too.” The level of nuance and sophistication then was such that any gay behavior could be seen as pederasty. (I have also read that LB was revolted by Britten’s open adoration of very young males at the Tanglewood rehearsals for the American premiere of “Peter Grimes.” Apparently, that went over LB’s “line” for public behavior and indulgence.)

        I don’t think it’s realistic for LB to have “stood up” for DM or even for such an opportunistic narcissist to have acted under the sort of noble restraint presently expected of people in his position. This goes beyond back-biting and sexual politics--in the arts world or anywhere else, for that matter. People don’t always act with the sort of principle we’d like now to expect, but back in the 40s it was a one-way ticket to obscurity--if not harassment and worse--to campaign for gay rights or even acknowledge publicly that those “sort of people” had equal rights in the workplace and a legitimacy to trump prejudice. I believe that there are plenty of people even in 2010 who cannot “live the life” and don’t want to face the de facto segregation that can still arise from coming out.

        Bernstein’s sexuality was never much of a question after the mid-70s, when he very publicly left his wife for a man, only to “return” to Felicia as she lay dying. By then he was not only an artistic institution unto himself but he had the economic power behind him to find himself insulated from reprisal. As for his betrayal of DM, perhaps he atoned later by promoting other artists who might otherwise may not have gotten the opportunity. I am no Bernstein fan, in general, but acknowledge that I saw several electrifying performances of his. (And I adore the controversial Tristan recording from Munich for the conducting.) That said, I think his reputation as a “genius” conductor is comically overblown, not least because of his own mania for self-promotion, and that feeds into my disgust for his taking credit for “reviving” Mahler, for “teaching the Vienna Philharmonic how to play Mahler” (!), and for single-handedly assuming the mantle of Mahler’s medium from the page to our ears. These claims can still be forthcoming, and the facts don’t quite add up to the publicity.

        • The Vicar of John Wakefield

          Too true! It was Wyn Morris and the foreign-born Horenstein who revived Mahler.

          • Harry

            Whilst conveniently forgetting others, like Maurice Abravanel and Bruno Walter.

          • Bruno Walter was GAY ?


          • Harry

            Cerquietti Farrell; “Bruno Walter was GAY?”
            I am sorry if it appears I gave a wrong inference with “Whilst conveniently forgetting others, like Maurice Abravanel and Bruno Walter”.

            I meant the statement to draw to the attention of everyone that although Horenstein and Morris also fostered the Mahler cause….people forgot that Abravanel and Bruno Walter were also the strongest of promoters of Mahler too.

            In fact Abravanel was the first to record a complete Mahler Symphonic cycle.

          • tongue in cheek, dear Harry!

            Just couldn’t resist the temptation …

  • Constantine A. Papas

    I read the book. Lenny was competing with Mitropoulos and tried to smear him. Mitropoulos never negated what he was and never used marriage to deceive and advance his career like Lenny did. Mitropoulos will remain a saint and the most underrated music figure of the last century: a formidable pianist and a conductor with unmatched memory. As a young man, I saw Mitopoulos with the Vienna Philarmonic, conducting Brahms in Athens. An experience that has stayed with me for ever. Novemer 2 is Mitropoulos’ 50th anniversary of his death. Gays and straights, like me, give him the respect he deserves, and let his memory be eternal. Dimitri Mitropoulos in the world of classical music is the personification of intellectual honesty like no other.

    • luvtennis

      See, this is where I have a problem. I have adored a number of DM performances over the years. Lord knows, his Florence Forza is one of the great live performances ever captured for posterity, but your last statement is SOOOOO over the top, Constantine. As I recall, DM was deemed a beloved colleague and a very kind man, but he was not a saint. He was a man.

      If Lenny did what he is accused of then he deserves opprobrium, but that would be true regardless of DM’s moral stature, no?

  • irontongue

    It is a horrifying and loathsome story.

    • irontongue

      Or I should say, horrifying and loathsome behavior.

  • Earl Koenig

    As someone who has grown up in the generation in which Bernstein’s homo/bi-sexuality is common knowledge, I’m curious to know how public it was through his career. When did the murmurs start? I assume, obviously, that it was after this dreadful incident with Koussevitsky. Was it gradually discovered? Any insight would be greatly valued!

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      in the 1960’s-mid 70’s reports were circulating about his jaunts to the Canary Islands.

      • Simon Blackmouth

        Well, it was no secret at Tanglewood in the early 80s where I saw Bernstein making out with a male conducting fellow--quite out in the open.

  • LittleMasterMiles

    As someone else who grew up long after these events, I have another, potentially unsavory question that I wouldn’t broach except that everyone involved is now dead:

    How did Bernstein know that Mitropoulos was gay? Was it an open secret that could only be corroborated by someone close to the man (as the second story implies), or was it genuinely news to Koussevitsky when he heard it? Was Mitropoulos interested in the young Bernstein in nonmusical ways?

    • poisonivy

      The second story implies that it was an open secret, probably something Koussevitsky knew or at least suspected. And if Bernstein and Mitroupolos were lovers, as the rumor mill has said, this would be a classic case of an Eve Harrington preying on the weakness of an older star.

      Either way the story is, it’s something I hope Bernstein was ashamed about. I doubt it though.

      • Harry

        Having heard the rumors about Bernstein and the Boston ‘caper’, I suppose I was a bit dumb or disinterested in Lenny’s goings on. Then I saw a Tv doco program about Bernstein conducting Parsifal in Venice(?) with Peter Hoffmann. Inadvertently it showed the differences in the two men. It showed Hoffmann after the performance going back to his own hotel and being interviewed at length in his room about the discipline involved being a Heldentenor. Partying was as he stated, not his scene. On the other hand elsewhere , same night as it was clearly pointed out- there was Bernstein partying hard to the hilt with the usual traveling flotsam and jetsam glitterati of the Time with the likes of rocker Mick Jagger etc (!!!!).

        Then the TV Doco ‘punch line’ shot came -- Bernstein a bit pissed, cigarette waved around in the best Noel Coward way… exclaimed to a couple of male friends…” Oh! I am going off now for a pee”.It was so directed at one or two around him, like a open brazen begging come -on invitation others ‘to join in’. You would have to be an imbecile for it to go over your head.
        A knowing case of ‘Oh! ARE YOU coming (with me) too?’

        The point I wish to inquire here…do other people think Bernstein, in extending Trouble in Tahiti to A Quiet Place: was trying to work out some sort of inner atonement for his own personal and family troubles and demons. The hints are plainly there amongst the ‘Quiet Place’ characters and their situation.
        Funny too that ironically it is claimed that Wagner was doing just that with Parsifal with his ‘dealings’ with King Ludwig.

        If we look at Bernstein’s works ‘certain codes’ crop up. Just take one word that of ‘Garden’…it figure in Candide, again in Quiet Place and very possibly as a metaphor in Westside’s song ‘Somewhere (seeking a place… of ‘space’)

        Finally we might one day find out how much music Sondheim is responsible for, in the actual music of Westside Story rather than Bernstein ‘in toto’

        • Orlando Furioso

          Then I saw a Tv doco program about Bernstein conducting Parsifal in Venice(?)

          That would have to be Tristan in Munich, no? Bernstein’s operatic runs are few enough over the years that they can be enumerated, and I’ve never heard that Parsifal was among them.

  • armerjacquino

    Alex Ross:

    ‘In 1948, Serge Koussevitzky, the longtime director of the Boston Symphony, announced his retirement, and both Mitropoulos and Bernstein hoped to succeed him. According to Joan Peyser’s controversial biography of Bernstein, Mitropoulos told friends that Bernstein had outed him to Koussevitzky. A different version of the story is told in William Trotter’s biography of Mitropoulos. But I have a hard time believing this rumor, for several reasons: 1) It would have been out of character for Bernstein to have done such a thing, particularly given his reverence for Mitropoulos; 2) It would have been dangerous for him to bring up the topic of homosexuality in light of his own history; 3) Koussevitzky may well already have known or suspected that Mitropoulos was gay, since the latter’s sexuality was not exactly a secret. Several Bernstein authorities also doubt the story. In the end, Boston avoided complications and hired Charles Munch.’

    • m. croche

      Trotter appears to have two independent accounts, one evidently sourced to Mitropoulos himself and another one where the sources are at least partially identified. Ross has bupkis in the way of evidence, his appeal to unnamed “Bernstein authorities” notwithstanding. I kinda think if one is going to call Mitropoulos a liar of a particularly nasty sort, one needs better evidence than one’s gut.

      • m. croche

        Also it should be noted that in this quotation, Alex Ross has either not read, or forgotten what he read, in Trotter. Ross’ objection #3 doesn’t mean a damn thing when you compare it with the longer, Jack Lowe version of the story. The whole point of THAT version was that Koussevitsky wanted to Bernstein to be the named source for Mitropoulos’ homosexuality and Bernstein complied with this request.

        This was a point that seems to have escaped Alex Ross completely.

        • poisonivy

          I think version 1 of the story is horrible, but version 2 of the story is more believable and in many ways even worse. In version 2 it seems as if Mitroupolos’s sexuality was something of an open secret, so for Bernstein to use it against him in that way is very ugly. It also speaks horrible of Koussevitsky. And also, I am always shocked at the pearl clutching that used to happen whenever anyone in the music business was gay. Really? That’s shocking? I know it was a different time but I can’t believe anyone in the music business would actually be homophobic. I guess small-mindedness exists everywhere.

          • Henry Holland

            And also, I am always shocked at the pearl clutching that used to happen whenever anyone in the music business was gay. Really? That’s shocking?

            Or the pearl clutching when a male ballet dancer is openly gay. I love that both the classical and ballet fields are stereotyped as havens for those nasty homosexuals, but when one is out, there’s the pearl clutching you mention.

          • poisonivy

            I can’t believe how many reviews I used to read of Nureyev’s “effeminate” manner and whatnot. Another particularly ugly episode around the same time period was Ed Sullivan blackmailing Jerome Robbins into testifying for the HUAC, using thinly veiled threats to “out” Robbins. And Robbins to his great discredit actually testified and named names of longtime friends and colleagues who trusted him. What an example of all-around cowardice.

      • armerjacquino

        Trotter has bupkiss too. There is no corroboration for what Mitropoulos ‘said’. And the other account is from someone who told someone who told someone.

        I should reiterate that I am not pro- or anti- Bernstein in this story; I hold no view as to whether it happened or not. But it makes me deeply uncomfortable that everyone here is accusing a dead man of having done something deeply unpleasant, based on something we are asked to believe another dead man said.

        Everyone here has exactly the same amount of knowledge of what happened in Boston in 1948, which is, in the immortal words of Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black, ‘Precisely…dick’.

        • m. croche

          Generally-agreed upon testimony of what Mitropoulos said to many + second-hand testimony is still evidence. Mitropoulos apparently claimed the story was told to him by Bernstein himself.

          So: do you consider Mitropoulos a liar? This, after all, would be a pretty monstrous lie to tell about someone.

          • armerjacquino

            No, I don’t consider Mitropoulos a liar.

            My only point, quite clearly stated, was that there is nowhere near enough evidence in either direction for anyone to say they know what happened.

            The use of ‘generally agreed’ and ‘apparently’ in your post makes this point more eloquently than I could.

          • m. croche

            If you don’t consider Mitropoulos a liar, then you at least need to come up with a plausible explanation for why he would say such things. Neither you nor Ross do. Instead of offering 1) new evidence and 2) explanations to account for existing evidence, you both plug your ears and yell “I can’t hear you!”

          • Harry

            Poison ivy: I don’t care who is gay or straight. What I do care about in the artistic scene, is the sheer manipulations that go on. Those of people having fame and/or positional power that use false acts of friendliness, promises and persuasive influence: to con other artists to ‘get into bed with them’.All the while intending to treat them as ‘rubbish’ when they quickly lose interest. There is one artist that already has been mentioned here…. whose influence was so great…they virtually picked out the next night’s candidate from the ranks of artists they saw each day. All the while flattering fellow aspiring but naive young artists, that ‘they wished to take an interest in their advancement’.
            The stories of their ‘actual goings on- in private’ and the real state of the hotel rooms, they left behind, I just leave to peoples’ worst imagination.

          • armerjacquino

            ‘you at least need to come up with a plausible explanation for why he would say such things.’

            Sigh. I need to do no such thing. I’m running out of ways to say this. I am not trying to deny the story is true. I’m saying that nobody can know if it’s true.

            There is no onus on me to come up with an explanation, plausible or otherwise, as to why Mitropoulos should have said something that there is no firm evidence he ever said.

            Ed or, basta.

          • m. croche

            You know, I’d find your agnosticism on the issue more convincing if you hadn’t originally trumpeted about Alex Ross’ feeble arguments for disbelieving Mitropoulos. Unless you’ve now decided that Ross’ contribution is pretty dubious, it seems to me that it is only the pro-Mitropoulos evidence and arguments that you treat skeptically. This is why I find your attitude towards evidence so cavalier.

          • armerjacquino

            I give up.

          • I think you’re on to something calling out AJ (and those who probably agree with him) on their false performance of neutrality. To suggest that we “don’t know what happened” is making a claim that the story, as told to us, isn’t fact. Fact is not something we wonder or speculate about.

            If I may be more expansive, there’s a particular kind of privilege employed by men in power when they are accused of sexual malfeasance or other kinds of emotionally/physically destructive behavior. Because of their privilege these acts of destruction tend to occur behind closed doors, rather than say on a street corner, and the potential for surveillance is severely limited. As the fascinating story on page one indicated, for years powerful men used the plausible deniability that came with their class status to seek out and destroy homosexuals in their places of work. That the Iago in that story was able to destroy with mere rumor, but could only be brought down by photographic evidence should be instructive here. We need to not reproduce the imbalance of the burden of proof when people are accused of being discriminatory against sexual minorities. We need to not ask the kinds of questions that accusers of gay people were never asked, questions that we know are impossible to answer.

            Rather, we need to continue to collect and publicisize narratives like this one, hopefully over time others will come forward with their remembrances of Bernstein’s activities and we can create a balanced portrait of his strengths and weaknesses. But merely crying “but how can we know!” doesn’t bring us closer to knowing the truth, its an act of obfuscation.

          • armerjacquino

            For fuck’s sake. I’m not ‘performing’ anything, false or otherwise.

            I have no idea what happened, and neither do you. I’m sick of being ascribed all kinds of motives for simply questioning the treatment of this story as unalloyed fact.

            What a lousy bunch of historians you’d all make.

          • luvtennis

            Maybe he was jealous. LB was a pretty good-looking kid. DM not so much.

          • luvtennis


            Not even DM was privy to Bernstein’s conversation with SK. Maybe HIS source got it wrong.

          • luvtennis

            I think, mostly, I am just a prude and I find some of the behaviors described -- the whole Lenny going to pee thingy has just mucked my day up -- as being beyond the pale.

            But I do recall that friends of mine in Boston during the late 80s regaling folks with tales of Lenny’s rapacious and apparently omnivorous appetites.

        • Did not composer David Diamond, close friend of both Bernstein and Mitropoulos, go on record with what he had learned about this matter from both men? And did not Diamond confirm the treachery of Bernstein?

          The Boston affair occurred in 1948-1949. Does no one remember what Bernstein did to Mitropoulos only a few years later, in 1957-1958?

          Contrary to anything Ross may or may not have written, this kind of behavior was definitely NOT out of character for Bernstein.

        • luvtennis

          Absolutely agree, Amerjacq!

          This is gossip, pure and simple.

          Let’s suppose that DM did something horrible to LB that we don’t know about? Suppose Koussevitski started the rumour because he was ashamed of his own behavior? The point is we will never know for sure because it was an entirely private matter.

        • m. croche

          Just curious, l-tennis: did you actually read Trotter’s second paragraph before you wrote that comment?

          One can speculate that DM was lied to by LB or somebody else, or one could speculate that DM was a liar, or one could speculate that DM had a persecution complex and unable to distinguish fantasy from reality , or one could speculate that DM dreamed the whole thing and mistook it for something that actually happened, or one could speculate that space aliens took hold of DM or LB and manipulated them for their unclear-but-undoubtedly-nefarious ends.

          I’ll leave you to your speculation. When you produce some evidence that makes one of the speculations more likely, let me know. Especially if it involves space aliens, because I’m kinda worried about them.

          And with that, I’m bowing out of this thread. Have at it, boys.

          • luvtennis

            Or we could speculate that someone is trying to sell a book about about someone who is not widely known by making a big deal about someone who is.

            It’s called marketing.

          • peter

            Luvtennis, I usually respect your comments about singers but I think you’re completely off base with your comments about Dimitri M. and Bernstein. I read the William Trotter book and its a scholarly treatment of Dimitri M.’s life. It’s published by Amadeus Press which is a small respectable publishing house, not a company that publishes gossipy biographies. You’re an attorney so you are familiar with circumstantial evidence. Why is it so difficult for you and others on here to grasp that Leonard Bernstein might have been guilty have some loathsome behavior. Or are you just trying to be contrary?

          • luvtennis


            I am a lawyer. A trial lawyer, in point of fact, or at least I was before going inhouse. I have had a great deal of experience with the Rashomony nature of truth.

            I am also a Bernstein fan (I like DM too!).

            I am also one of those silly optimistic persons who believes the best in people. And in happy endings. And that Paul Lynde was just misunderstood.

            Sue me. But I will win. ;-)

    • Harry

      amerjacquino :If once, you have not personally experienced ‘a closet’ doing a Iago on someone else in a work situation, then I think you you would subscribe to such a premise.

      Go back 30 years: when it was normally ‘a hush’ situation generally. A ‘supposedly divorced’ fellow in a much higher position -- a branch manager-I was working with, decided to target me with this type of snide ridicule. It had happened in a similar fashion once previous to me.. This time ‘enough was enough’.I came out to fellow work colleagues . I also correctly sixth -sensed ‘someone, somewhere at the top’ in the Firm was a guardian angel. At that time I did not know who. I became gay accepted, and then more staff came out. We broke the ‘dam wall’.
      Later I left, and to my amazement: found a friend who I even had a past friendly affair with, once, had been the live-in lover of that same detractor I had worked with . He also had been treated shabbily, even ripping the friend off financially by the creep.. Keeping in contact with people of the Firm I then found out this ‘Iago’ was proceeding to make false accusations of extra martial affairs against executive heterosexual members of the Firm, who had uncovered embezzlement by him.
      Now it was ‘pay back time’: my friend -the ex live in lover of this ‘Iago’ -- gave me incriminating photos of this ‘Iago’ … a male party ‘going down’. The executives, hearing I had the ‘goods’ came to me begging to be able to counter blackmail. I gave them to the executives….presto….the threats disappeared…the culprit punished …fired out the door. Last time I saw him he was a low paid delivery van driver. Oh yes, I found out who the guardian angel was…nobody but the top boss and biggest shareholder. His brother happened to be gay. Justice does come for some.

  • Arianna a Nasso

    mrmyster @ 1.2 “Let’s let it rest.”

    I find this response very troubling. You may have heard this story for years, but it was news for me and, I suspect, for some other readers. Why should we hide the unsavory aspects of someone’s life? Should we stop talking about Wagner’s anti-Semitism, infidelity, etc. just because he wrote some nifty music?

    • scargo

      I beg to differ: I don’t think we’ve ever stopped talking about Wagner’s miserable anti-Semitism, infidelity, etc. If you’ve noticed, there are many, many books about Wagner and everyone of them has a title like “The Man and the Music”, in other words trying to separate the music (“nifty” isn’t quite the right word) from the awful human being.
      Talking about Lenny hasn’t even begun. He’s still considered an idol by most. It’s about time for the whole truth about him, his genius and his weaknesses.

    • mrmyster

      Wagner: “Nifty music?” Really, Arianna, you can do better than that.
      I say to let the Bernstein matter go because during his time it was
      very widely known and accepted that he was gay. But he was very
      indiscrete about it, and by the end quite craven. It was his most
      unsavory and unattractive side, the way he practicedit, but all other
      things considered I say, again, let it go. What is to be gained now by
      such discussion?

  • callasorphan

    Mother of god, I hate to read this. I find it very, very sad and particularly loathsome when one of “our own” is a hypocrite. However, from what I’ve learned in my life that there are those that will do anything to further their goals in life. That makes me very sad indeed.

    • armerjacquino

      Can we please all stop assuming that it’s true? There is, at the very least, reasonable doubt that it happened- as illustrated in the Alex Ross quote I posted earlier.

      I have no idea whether it happened or not but I always become uncomfortable when rumour is treated as fact.

      • Jack Jikes

        Beautifully put -Bernstein in private conversation was always throwing out the word ‘Rashmon!’ when confronted with any of various yarns about
        friends, associates and collaborators.

        • Harry

          Jack Jikes: That’s nice cool way for someone like Bernstein muddying the waters and hoping others do the same on his behalf. I keep getting reminded with Bernstein perhaps thinking of himself as that Blossom Dearie song ‘Im’ Hip!’, since he was such a considered darling of the late 50’s early 60’s smart Set’

      • Nerva Nelli

        I guess your attempt at fair-mindedness is in some ways admirable, but you are dismisisng something as a mere rumour that — as far as I had known-- was fairly well attested. (Almost like the contemptible USA music critic who had the temerity not long ago to refer to Schwarzkopf’s “putative Nazi affiliations” in print.)I heard about LB’s betrayal of DM from Boston Symphony insiders decades ago. That of course doesn’t make it true, but this was not just a rumour that cropped up after LB’s death. But just to say “both men are dead” is hardly grounds for dismisising something, or suspecting that no one, while alive, told the truth about this to someone who passed it on truthfully.

      • I’m with you totally Armerjacquino -- all this stuff about Lenny B is nothing more than gossip….no one can prove or disprove it now so who cares? In a court of law it would not be admissable because it is just hearsay. The thing that I find incredible is the remarks of some of the posters… I just think they should enjoy the goss if they must- but have the good sense to recognise it for what it is. Some queens will grab onto anything.

        • m. croche

          I’m not really sure where one draws the line between “gossip”, “biography” and “history”. As for the canard “no one can prove or disprove it now”: the historian’s task is to do the best job possible in playing a bad hand. The historical record is always much less complete than one would like. They collect such evidence as remains, weigh it, contextualize it. Contrary evidence is not simply ignored, but also analyzed. I find the airy dismissals of this process glib.

          • richard

            That’s how I’m seeing this discussion, too.

            Sure, it’s not really possible to prove that the actions described actually took place as per the description, but there’s a big difference between that and pure “gossip”

            Anything contained in a biography has a certain kind of weight attached to it. Again, it may be just made up and in any event impossible to prove but that’s not just gossip, which has a frivolous connotation to it.

            For myself, I go by the tone of a written account. If it’s from a book/bio that otherwise seems legitimate, then I’m going to consider what’s contained in that book as something that is accurate, at least as far as the author is concerned. Not that it’s PROVEN, but at least something to be considered.

            If the account comes from what appears to be a frivolous source, then I’ll treat it as being possible but unlikely. For instance, some tale from Hollywood Babylon is going to be possible, but much more in the line of “gossip” than an account from an otherwise serious biography.

          • rapt

            I think the gears aren’t quite meshing in this disagreement. I think armerjaquino’s primary contention (with which I agree) is that the story remains a speculation, not proven by documents. But I agree with m. croche that speculation is often necessarily a part of the historian’s task--that entertaining and weighing varied speculations does not make one a lousy historian (although that may not be what aj is contending: if he means only that it would be a lousy historian who would assert as fact what must remain speculative, I agree with him). And the kind of “doubt” introduced by Ross is, of course, equally speculative (and, in my reading of his particular arguments, rather weak, depending as these do on unnamed authorities and on assertions about motives that, for me at least, don’t seem convincing--for instance, having a secret of one’s own is quite often a motive for, rather than a hindrance to, accusation of others [certainly we’ve seen a sufficiency of gay-baiting closet cases among the clergy and politicians]).

          • Thats cos its hard to intellectualise shit.

          • m. croche

            I would agree that the Ross quotation approvingly cited by AJ could be described as “speculation” (at least, Ross’ points #1 and 2). I think it’s misleading to use the term when applied to Trotter: here we have one historian reporting on speech by others, not presenting his own speculations. So it seems to me that the burden involved in falsifying Trotter is much heavier.

            There would be a variety of ways to do this: dig up other accounts of the deliberation that would provide alternative explanations for the board’s decision; introduce evidence that Trotter, Oliver Daniel, Mitropoulos or Jack Lowe are (singly or in combination) unreliable narrators; find evidence that the story couldn’t possibly have happened as told (i.e. Bernstein was in Brazil the whole time). The problem is that Trotter’s critics here can’t be assed to do any of this. Fine, that’s not necessarily their job, but it does mean that I’m not likely to take their evaluation terribly seriously.

          • armerjacquino

            m. croche, I’m going to get seriously annoyed if you continue to put words in my mouth. I cited the Ross quote neither ‘approvingly’ nor disapprovingly. It’s right there on the previous page- I posted the author’s name, and the quote. Nothing else. I did so not because I agree with it or disagree with it, but because it throws some doubt on what was being treated as a signed and sealed fact.

            I also find your pronouncements on what a historian should and should not do interesting. I was always taught that the worst thing a historian can do is to start from a presumption. The presumption of guilt in this case is deafening; to the extent that my attempt to say nothing more than richard did (‘it is not proven’) or than rapt did (‘it remains speculation’) has been met with accusations of all kinds, including ON’s casually offensive suggestion of ‘performed neutrality’, whatever the gibbering fuck that may be.

          • luvtennis

            Something is a biography has a certain amount of weight in it?

            Sorry, but that is just about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Ever heard of Kitty Kelly?

            Anyone’s life can be distorted by a sensationalizing biographer. Especially when the subject is recently dead and there are lots of “friends” willing to tell tales.

          • m. croche

            AJ: I wrote that you brought up Ross “approvingly” because of what you wrote at 11.1. I also find that people who bring up quotations without further explication do so because they find them reasonable and require no further explication. This is describing your actions, AJ, not putting words in your mouth.

            Nor have I been operating from a presumption of guilt. Trotter et al have done some research and produced some evidence. So far there has been, for all of the huffing and puffing, no counter-evidence adduced. Nothing is “proven” -- pace Karl Popper, no hypothesis ever is “proven”, it is merely not-yet-falsified -- but there’s -- with this book -- good reason to believe some version of the story is probably true.

            Now, if you want to provide some evidence that there’s something wrong with Trotter, I’ll be all ears. I’ve got no attachment to either DM or LB (or Trotter or the rest). I’d happily believe that DM was delusional, or lied to, or that Trotter or Oliver Daniel was concealing exculpatory evidence. But you have to give me a reason to believe it. If that sort of thing seems hard, then you can appreciate the effort that people make in preparing books for publication.

          • poisonivy

            I think it’s naive to demand that great artists also be great people. Or, the corollary that them being great artists makes up for their failings as people. In contrast, I often think that what makes people great creative and artistic forces (unwavering self confidence, ambition, and knowledge that they are special) makes them self-absorbed, difficult, and inconsiderate.

            I mean can you really think of a great *creative* artist who was also a wonderful person? A poet, novelist, playwright, painter, composer, director, choreographer who was also just the salt of the earth? I really can’t.

          • armerjacquino

            And where, precisely, do you find ‘approval’ in what I wrote at 11:1? I merely said that its existence shows that there is doubt in some quarters that this story is true.

            And as for what you ‘find’ about people who bring up quotations without further explication, that is pure presumption and pure projection, which you then go on to call ‘describing (my) actions’. Words fail.

            Finally, you once again ask me to find some evidence to discredit Trotter. I have no interest in discrediting anyone; my point is that he hasn’t fully proved his. You also, once again, operate from a position of Mitropoulos definitely having said something that we have no concrete proof he said.

            I really am giving up now, because you continue to address the points you think I’m making rather than the ones I actually have.

        • Harry

          Then what are people experiencing by listening or watching to any alleged ‘artistic’ piece? Great thunders of notes or visuals : that they would want us to believe ‘just happened’ by a sheer fluke of nature. That Bach perhaps, could have just as easily have written Wagner’s work ‘except nature’s time was not right?’ or Donezetti could have written Lulu, but that the chain of evolution was not in synchronicity then, for 12 tone. As if music is but ink blots freely scattered,… and composers are but manifestations of a mechanical pianola time. Set to spew out compositions ‘to fit and co-ordinate with some pre ordained period of time’ I find this idea staggering. For that is the underneath pathetic argument of the ‘don’t examine the influences on those who made it or how’ camp. No matter how unintended. The fact that the slip-steams of one person’s particular unique consciousness was in play -- in their own era -- allowed a composition to come into being….is eschewed.
          Whether a rat or a saint, it certainly must have ‘textured’ the creation in some way! No man is a island.

          • Harry

            Whenever I hear that feverish ‘breakdown’ sequence in Berstein’s Mass and that anguished embarrassing cry go up “Let us pray..”… I want to cringe and run. I keep thinking Bernstein is yet again on his ‘atonement’ kick, .

  • Niel Rishoi

    Somehow, whenever I read stuff like this about Lenny, the word “euthanasia” crops up.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    • Jack Jikes

      Ah…. the trouble that ensued when Lenny invited the Bunraku imperial
      musicians to the Berkshires. Tahiti was nothing compared to THAT.

  • Vox

    Don’t know anything about this story but anyone who was at Tanglewood in the early ’80s can attest to Bernstein’s behavior toward any male who caught his eye. If proper attention was not paid, you could expect to have no opportunities.

    • phoenix

      dépravation totale!

  • Harry

    For those that ‘wish to let sleeping dogs lie’ or die ABSOLUTELY where deceased figures of the music scene are concerned -- let’s look at at other dead artistic figures. Take Sylvia Plath, Picasso, Virginia Wolff, Eugene O’Neil, Henry James, E.M Forster etc…people keep digging deep to understand the ‘full force’ of what they created, why they did what they did, and where they were actually coming from. No squeals go up about the need for protection of their memory. Their memories and works will survive and be admired.. The question is: … “Is Bernstein and what he artistically created: capable of surviving the same similar forms of close scrutiny of his life?” To fully ascertain how much of his own life experience went into molding what he presented to the public. Surely he was aware of this fateful final result, that also posthumously awaited him. Otherwise he should have stayed a baton waver.
    A case now of Who’s Afraid of The Real Life of Lenny B? Otherwise let’s call it a day and shrug off everything as gossip and include calling his compositions ‘mere passing forgetful piffle’ too. Fair’s….. fair. That’s the name of the game.

    • I recently saw an interview with the much esteemed art historian and critic, Sister Wendy on Youtube(strongly recommend it- fascinating stuff).

      On matters of assessing, judging or trying to understand any “artistic creation” Sister Wendy is unambiguous- one has to look at the integrity of the work, itself- and leave personal judgements of the artist or creator out of it altogether. She says it is not relevant.

      She argues the case so well, (don’t believe me -- check it yourself) I’m not going to push the case other than to say I agree with her, but nonetheless I also realise “leaving the gossip out of it” ain’t half as interesting.

      • richard

        Well, I agree with that, it only makes sense. But sometimes it’s hard not to let personal judgements creep into what she be an assessment .

        I know I try but sometimes shit just creeps into my judgement process…..

      • Harry

        It is a fascinating discussion. I am familiar with Sister Wendy’s methods. Being of the ‘holy cloth’, it would therefore seem to make her rather unwilling on the surface to some degree, to play ‘Devil’s Advocate’ whilst attempting to sanctify artists for the Saints pantheons of Art. I have watched other art historians use the same methods to illuminate a piece on one hand, but then give an alternative ‘dig deep’ reactive appraisal of things like great paintings and sculpture. Works -- now deemed totally historical,and not having any recent generation to draw on to give first hand information. They may be things of great visual beauty but do not engage the senses of most people here; that of the extra sense….hearing. Exciting a further added different dimension set of living breathing creative reactions and emotions, prone to instant change. THEREBY GAINED : born first of close study listening, interest, research and knowledge by using all those connected associations. In Bernstein’s case there is still time for collection of first hand ‘thread’ information from associates still living, or from factual records of those not long dead that may be of value as a record, for still further posterity.

        I will take another example. Take Joyce Grenfell’s autobiography where -- in passing ,she mentions Benjamin Britten’s total unthinking castigation of his long loyal creative associate help on so many of his creations, that of Viola Tunnard. Playing through some new creation of his, he noticed she , ever reliable -was missing a few notes on the piano here and there….Britten was quick to blame her ‘that it was her careless fault’. The poor woman was in fact, showing signs of the hideous fast terminal disease Motor Neuron Disease. So I ask, should this be laid down for other people’s knowledge? Should such things be not overlooked and noted? The answer is a yes, yes, yes. Does it say: connect with other recorded, like cold behavior of Britten ? etc etc etc. It allows people to place further questions forward about the make up of Britten and his own individual traits -- ‘the ‘human soup’ out of which his compositions came. Whilst listening to any music, we are continually and privately making our own forms of individual conjecture about any composer. That the nature of the beast.

        This is after all the 21st Century. Do people realize that the Vatican once wanted to ban Rossini’s Cenerentola because at the end of the opera , Cinderella had to expose part of HER ANKLE for the Prince to try on her, the famous shoe!!!!

        The final judged integrity of anything: comes out of knowing what actually created it and the influential forces involved, whilst it was being created. ‘Something does not just come out of some mindless Everyman silence vacuum’.I believe this is all we are also attempting to do, in these discussions. When you eat something…do you not care about knowing the true ingredients?

        I once did research for a artist who was wanting to do a new show on certain wartime artists. Some of the unsavory political material I dredged up would surprise some. Does that make me ‘a gossip’ digging it up and now knowing it? If it was not there….I could not be accused, could I? Whose ‘final culpability’ is it? Committing some frowned upon or treacherous act, or others finding out, it took place?

        • Free world, Harry. You are allowed to miss the point.

          • Harry

            Ruxton : Exactly what is noticeably absent point, anyway? Now, now, stop trying to take a leaf out of the pages of some art mob’s abstract thesis for what constitutes ‘integrity’, in various forms of Art.

            Watching Sister Wendy on youTube as you admitted…really Ruxton!!! What a screamer! Should we laugh?
            It is like someone attempting to be university Arts educated: but looking at miniature size short cartoons and then taking down notes, with the facilities of a kindergarten kid’s first writing slate and crayons. Therefore I respect the ‘integrity’ of the first invention of the wheel!

        • Regina delle fate

          Well since there is no shoe in La cenerentola -- it’s a bracelet -- it’s very hard to believe the above story about the Vatican trying to ban it.

          • Regina delle fate

            But of course, it could have originally been a shoe and the librettist changed it to keep the Vatican quiet. I didn;’t think of that until now! Sorry Harry.

    • luvtennis


      You assume that there is general agreement about the wisdom of using biography as a crutch in critical analysis. I abhor the practice. Just because some academics condone the practice doesn’t make it right. In fact, academics are just about the most gossipy folks in my acquaintance.

      Look, I loathe the historical Wagner, not just for his awful racism and anti-semitism, but because he was an arrogant jerk who used everyone around him.

      How much do you want to bet that he used Ludwig’s proclivities against him? But I can listen to his music because I don’t hear those things in the music.

      The libretti are another matter sadly.

      Not every composer can be as cool as Bach or Verdi -- who was a very progressive dude indeed. Not every writer can be as upstanding as Tolkien -- whose letter the Nazi’s regarding the translation of the Hobbit stands as a model of how a responsible artist should deal with evil despots.

      If we only enjoyed the art of the righteous, we would be severely limited in our entertainment choices.

      • Harry

        luvtennis; I respect your position but…. take the case of the composer Percy Grainger who consciously made sure that every single aspect of his life was documented for public view when dead..

        In Melbourne Australia, they have just reopened after renovation, HIS OWN consciously purpose built museum once again -containing amongst other things, letters, music, photos……and even all the artifacts for his love of sado-masochism. Including a collection of his very whips,the contraptions for his physical containment whilst being whipped and actual naked photographs of him… with his legs ‘spread-eagled’, buttocks exposed -- both before and after whipping!

        His only proviso was..that some of the material seen on display, only become available for viewing to the public -- one decade -a short 10 years after his death. He died in 1961.

        Makes this little teapot discussion about Bernstein seem childish stuff by comparison.

  • CruzSF

    As La Cieca has reminded us recently, Parterre is first and foremost a “gossip” site. We shouldn’t be surprised that gossip might trump the facts here.

    I don’t know whether Trotter, Ross, or anyone else is closer to the truth. It seems to me pretty unknowable at this point. What we have are years upon years of rumors of who tried to destroy whom.

    richard, even when I disagree with you, I find your posts are pretty fair-minded. If you have read the Trotter book and found it to be plausible, then I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, until I can read it myself and compare it with other sources.

  • louannd

    WHAT a terrific discussion! I love Parterre!

    • Yea -- there’s always great discussion- and then there’s Harry :)

  • m. p. arazza

    Well, I had never known about any of this and normally would have no reason to doubt what seems to be the coin of the realm. However, when the biographer (Trotter) himself concedes that “There are two versions of what happened,” isn’t that as much as to say that there might well have been a third version, and a fourth, etc., etc., and that no one really knows exactly what happened? Okay, maybe there really are only two versions. But unless I’m misreading something, there is one disturbing point of ambiguity in Trotter’s account on the page reproduced above. He writes: “As Jack Lowe recounted it…”, followed by the quote from Lowe which includes “Later when we [italics added] heard about it from Dimitri…” However, a few lines previously we’ve been told that this Second Version was “recounted by a board member to pianist Jack Lowe.” So if Lowe is merely repeating the board member’s account, who is the “we” in Lowe’s testimony? Did he hear about it from Dimitri or didn’t he? It’s this kind of fudged (however trivial) detail that makes me (rightly or wrongly) want to re-open the case…

  • manou

    Reflection On The Fallibility Of Nemesis

    He who is ridden by a conscience
    ?Worries about a lot of nonscience; ?
    He without benefit of scruples ?
    His fun and income soon quadruples.

    Ogden Nash

  • manou

    Sorry -- ignore the ??????s