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#1: Greg Sandow on James Levine's PEDOPHILIA

Posted on 2004-05-20 10:43:22 by svkotzebue

<a href="http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/archives20040101.shtml#66076" target="_blank"> http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/archives20040101.shtml#660 76</a>

Not long ago I was having dinner with some reasonably substantial
people in the orchestra world. And as often happens when people
inside the business get to know me, the conversation turned to
critics. Why, I'm regularly asked, do criticsÂand here we can fill in
the blank with whatever odd behavior some critic recently exhibited.
(Though the question people really want to ask is a lot simpler, and
eventually they get around to it: Why don't critics know how the
music business works?)

This time, though, my dinner partners wanted to ask something much
more dangerous. Why, they asked, do critics so often and so strongly
praise a musician widely said to be a pedophile? Though &quot;widely
said,&quot; in this context, isn't putting the case strongly enough. This
musician is an international celebrity, one of the most famous names
in the business. He's wildly popular in New York and elsewhere, and
has worked for years with one of the most powerful institutions in
classical music.

And yet people in the business don't just whisper rumors that he's a
pedophile. They take for granted that he is, and that his pedophilia
takes especially disgusting forms. This man forces himself on boys,
people confidently state. He's been arrested for it, they add, and on
more than one occasion has been bought out of trouble, allegedly with
enormous sums of money. Since everybody knows this, my dinner
companions asked, why do critics (especially in his home city) so
strongly praise the man? Shouldn't they deplore him and expose him?

This question was asked very seriously, with a lot of moral fervor. I
had to explain that neither I nor my critic colleagues -- or, for
that matter, my dinner companions -- have any evidence for all these
charges. We don't know the dates or places of the supposed events, or
the names of anyone involved. In all my years in the business,
despite all the conversations I've had on this subject, I've never
spoken to anyone with firsthand knowledge of these things, or even to
anyone who claimed to know someone with firsthand knowledge.

That puts a journalist in a tough position. You can't just write a
story saying, &quot;X is a pedophile -- everybody says so.&quot; You have to
name your sources, and show where they got their information. You
need hard facts -- documentary evidence (arrest records, perhaps), or
else eyewitness reports from people who'll let you print, with their
names attached, that they saw something -- saw a child molested, saw
the musician in police custody, know the parents of a molested child,
once worked for a corporate CEO who ended one of these affairs with
money, and who once came into the office and indiscreetly said, &quot;I
just paid $5 million to get charges dropped against X. Don't tell
anyone!&quot;

This wouldn't be easy; to find these sources (if they could be found
at all) might take months of work, and even then you might never
persuade them to speak on the record. It's no wonder no music
journalist has written this story.

And yet I think it could be written, by someone who isn't a music
journalist, but instead is an experienced investigative reporter.
We're not talking here about military secrets; if these things really
happened, eventually somebody will talk. I don't claim to have much
investigative experience, but I might start with a major orchestra
that not too long ago considered this musician for an important job.
(With what result I won't say.) Some board members were said to
oppose the appointment on moral grounds. I could call each member of
the board, in search of someone so outraged that he or she might
talk. (And then, of course, there are staff and board members, past
and present, from everywhere this musician has already worked;
employees, past and present, of his management; and, if we learned
the place where any of the alleged events had happened, the police
department wherever that might be).

But even without a full investigative study, here's a question worth
asking. Never, in all my years in this business, have I talked about
all this with anyone who thinks the stories aren't true. Why, then,
do we treat this musician with such respect? If we praise his
performances, why don't we do it with reserve? How can we support him
for major appointments, as many of us have done? Including me, I have
to say; I need to rethink my own behavior, just as much as anybody
else.

One thing at stake here is classical music's credibility; our need,
which I think is very urgent, to show we live in the same world as
everybody else. So enough with the artistic piety, the pretense of
loftiness, the wish to be judged by higher standards than those of
everyday life. Which is more important -- the glory of classical
music, or the safety of our children?

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