Rostropovich, American Music, Musak

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

Story 4: To be continued…

Story 7 or 8: The U.S.A.

“Shostakovich and Rostropovich (April 16, 2006)”

Is it your first multimedia article? I read “A Pianist’s Debut” two months ago but what was in there? O.o* This writer is a new face. When I was actively involved in the battle with your New York folks, this name was not on my enemy-list. Hence, I constantly avoided to pick up this name, no matter what, only because I didn’t want a newbie to draw a political attention from You-Know-Who. I assume that most of you are older than I. Now… this voice sounds young, either. How old is he?

Anyway, He made his article interesting again, whether he intended or not: “but his conducting career, as the music director of the NS and then as a guest conductor all over the world, has not enjoyed the same near-unanimous acclaim.”

Why does this senctence sound interesting? He also wrote the detailed reasons why he had to undervalue this musician as a maestro. It even answered my years-long question about why such a great instrumentalist like Rostropovich, a cellist, indeed, who posseses a great imagination as a performer, who has a superb ability to advice his juniors as a teacher, (I know 3 cases, although none of them seemed to understand the meaning of his advice), and whose private life is more than perfect as a humanbeing, could elicit such a not-so-great sound from his instruments, namely an orchestra.

I know Maestro Fischer-Dieskaus’ reason, but what is Maestro Rostropovich’s?

For a while, I thought it was simply due to lack of his conducting techniques. Various articles said, “No~.”

Anyway, As usual, he has no clue to answer his critical query, despite all the details in his own writing. So weird…

I really like this new technology, podcasting. Things that I want to follow. Practically valuable, indeed. It makes me able to wake up in the morning. For a while… Then, it makes me more miserable. What’s wrong with my life? So, I temporarily stop.


Suddenly, I want to write this story first. It should be the very last part, though. What matters even if I write this part first? I am sick of this situation, in which I’ve resumed my fucking life dividing myself into two humans so that I was destroying my daytime, and my health after all, without doing anything productive.

This was anyway what I wrote on June 9, 2005: “I will write. And this will be my last one. Which means… In a normal case, I will have to quit all those useless acts, from listening to the radio to reading the articles. Which means… After finishing my last one, I will have to let all my beautiful American memories vanish into thin air… So, is it just my greedy wish if I want to hold it for couple of more days before throwing it into the trash can? …It just sounds like “The Art of Language”, instead of “The Art of Criticism”. However, your other stuffs were getting better and better, and some of your works just hooked my attention. They were terrific! I hope… there were someone who could pick up the reason of my writing.”

You wrote:

(May 6, 2005)

 …”My own staff could not afford to go to 95 percent of what was going on around them at Lincoln Center. And these were people passionate about music and culture,” she added. Yet in New York there are affordable and even free classical music events of the highest quality almost year-round… And the hardest people to reach are those who typically gripe the most about unaffordable high culture: students and young working adults… He also acknowledges that it’s hard to lure young people to these programs. He attributes the problem mostly to the decline in past decades of arts education in the schools and the increasing absence of live music in the home… The poor state of arts education is certainly a factor, but not the whole explanation. Even when college students and young adults become curious about classical music, they tend to be seduced by the big-name institutions…  The audience that nearly filled Town Hall was, she said proudly, “the result of 10 radio spots, one advertisement in AM New York, a free paper, and e-mails.”…

(May 10, 2005)

…Officials from the orchestra insisted that the piano was not individually amplified and that the wires coiling around its front leg were for recording. If so, the hall’s sound system must have been overly sensitive to the piano… The capacity audience responded with a rousing standing ovation. But for this essential orchestra’s 51st season, why not try an experiment: turn off the sound systems and see if the performers and audience can adjust to the hall as is. Better dry but honest acoustics than the dismaying amplification heard on this anniversary night.

(May 10, 2005)

…While the residency is seemingly a boon to South Florida concertgoers and to the CO in extending its reach (and to its musicians in escaping grim northern winters), some in the Miami area have denounced it as a blow to the classical music scene there…

(May 31, 2005)

That overused catchphrase of the 1990’s applies here: it takes a village to raise a youth orchestra, too… It seemed as if most of the village turned out on Sunday afternoon as proud families, friends and other supporters streamed into Carnegie Hall… but just as important are those who will one day take their seats in the audience. Conservatories are bursting at the seams, but our supply of impassioned listeners desperately needs restocking. And for that job, there can scarcely be better training.

(June 7, 2005)

The old joke has a new twist. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Rent it… many casual ticket buyers assume, logically enough, that all classical concerts at Carnegie Hall are in fact Carnegie Hall classical concerts. Not so simple…

(June 9, 2005)

…There is a simple solution to the supertitles question: don’t look at them.

(June 25, 2005)

Decline in Listeners Worries Orchestras… what mattered was: “There are people who would really love this. How do we get to them?”… while Ravinia is selling more tickets every summer, sales for CSO events there have fallen by about one-third since 1990… Major orchestras give their musicians contracts for 52 weeks a year, then have to figure out how to occupy them. This is one reason orchestras have summer festivals in the first place: to give the musicians something to do… the flexibility of a 21st-century lifestyle: fewer and fewer people are willing or able to commit a given evening every week for months ahead… festivals with all-star concerts play to full houses while local orchestras in England struggle to attract audiences. “Audiences are looking to the arts as sensation rather than sustenance,” he wrote. But this is hardly surprising, given the way the arts tend to be marketed… This comes back to another common refrain: the decline in arts education, which makes classical music in particular seem more rarefied than essential…

(July 30, 2005)

…Still, the improvement seemed not that remarkable. Moreover, I thought there was less definition in the sound than is typical in the Avery Fisher Hall. The basses tended to dominate; the violins seemed a little thin…

(August 15, 2005)

…Avery Fisher Hall was set up in its new configuration. On this first hearing, from a single location, I did not sense big differences in sound, but the space certainly felt visually refreshed by the orchestra’s new centrality and the presence of listeners on all four sides, not to mention those giant acoustic pods hovering curiously above the ensemble. The focus of the listening also seemed sharper than usual, though the obbligato coughing was present as ever.

(June 10 & 25, October 2, 2005)

Wanted to read “Benjamin Britten,” “Joseph Horowitz,” and “George Gershwin,” but too tired to…

This was anyway what I wrote on June 9, 2005: “I will write. And this will be my last one. Which means… After finishing my last one, I will have to let all my beautiful American memories vanish into thin air. In America, I met all kinds of dirty humans. At the same time, however, some Americans offered me perhaps the most valuable moments. This was/is in fact my only experience throughout my entire life…”

Years ago,

Right after I returned to Korea to start this internet battle, I happened to ask late Arnold Jacobs to do something for his juniors, especially American musicians. He refused… or he made no comment. (He just said something vague about something his fucking soundormusicorwhatever toward his death… it was in the Chicago Tribune.)

Then I also found out that both of Dale Clevenger’s political opponent and Gail Williams have resigned from their orchestral job. Sic! None of those was what I wanted.

I only wanted late Arnold Jacobs to return his America to the original place, where music was standing for not a sophisticated theory but simply music.

Why do you think I had to this?

The funniest article I’ve ever seen:  “””Anyone who believes that orchestral music as an art form is in trouble in this country needs to experience what I have experienced: a remarkably high quality of music making in an incredible variety of places, large and small, kept alive and vital by tens of thousands of committed, passionate men and women who perform the art or who support it with their hard work”””

One forumite reported this article written by Henry Fogel. How was it answered by his friends? Perhaps… Henry Fogel needs to survive his practical life as an orchestral member in one of those ensembles. Or… his writing is nothing but “Just a lunatic babbling. Toss it into the bozo bin where it belongs.”

“Just a lunatic babbling. Toss it into the bozo bin where it belongs.”

This is how Henry Fogel’s American friend called me in his Google Group. “Mr. Barenboim would appear to be the object of a rather involved fantasy life of hers. (Anwered by “I’d say the lady needs help! Sounds like a nut-case to me!”)”

This is how Henry Fogel, who is now a president and CEO of the American Symphony Orchestra League, defined me.

Know what… you’d better ask your Chicago friend, an “impotent” critic at the Chicago Tribune, to join this farewell-party, if he still remembers all my e-mails to him. If he is still “impotent,” as “we” used to worry so much… ^o^ (I could never understand why… until I found Henry Fogel’s fucking genius comments in his Google Groups. He was constantly concerned about being fired… for years… Poor friend!)

When did I tell you that Mr. Barenboim is the object of my fantasy life?

That I fell in love with this Jewish pig, who was “emotionally” pretending to worry Palestinian kids and their future?

Fuck you!

I’ve constantly told you that I started this battle, only because I wanted to prove my sanity and this was my only choice left in my life. That I still want never to wake up in the morning again.

I’m still wondering about the real reason why Henry Fogel suddenly quit his Chicago job after I found something interesting about his real opinion about Mr. Barenboim, who he thinks is never a maestro, and his fanatical opinion about Waltraud Meier, who he believes is a heavenly diva. As all of you know, he said that his decision was due to the American economic problems.

Then, he was “unanimously promoted” to the president of the American Symphony Orchestra League. Therefore, I had to give up. What kind of hopeless dream do I dream with this music in American orchestras?

Nowadays, it is real hard to find interesting opinions about music in Google Groups. Especially about voices. It is rather in NYT’s forum, in which I find something. But here, the participants are very small and limited. Funnier that their opinion have sounded more critical to rate Henry Fogel’s favorite voice since my farewell.

You can find here. The NYT doesn’t keep all their old postings, though:

Anyway, I want to write what I should write.

Why do you think I had to ask late Arnold Jacob to say something before he dies? Do you really think Asian students’ attitude is better, politer than the one of American students? I thought so… until I experienced American students at the American music school.

First of all,

I’ve never encountered any American who regarded Dale Clevenger as his/her mentor. But I’ve met many Americans who respected Arnold Jacobs as their mentor, from the bottom of their heart. You never know how pure-or-stupid your American students are. I’ve never seen such a sincere followers as your American students. To my surprise, they never thought about why. They just believed in who they think was their mentor.

It was even different from this terminology, fanatical. They were rather naïve.

This is why I dared to ask late Arnold Jacobs to openly acknowledge his faulty theory and lead his America in a right way while he was still alive. What did he do?

Second of all,

While attending American music school, I also met anonymous professional visitors from elsewhere. Still now… I promise that all American professors were busy at following my Chicago report only because it was a political happening. None of them could distinguish the characteristics of my sound. (I’m talking about the entire wind section.) Therefore… please imagine my life in places, where no one knows how to approve the contents of my study.

Then, there were always anonymous professionals, who happened to visit my place. Suddenly, the atmosphere in the entire school was different. You know… most of them were from you-can’t-hear-them-in-Carnegie-Hall.

I am still wondering the reason of their quick response, for their playing in American professional orchestras sound nothing but Arnold Jacobs’ disciples. 

This is why I dared to ask late Arnold Jacobs to openly acknowledge his faulty theory and lead his America in a right way while he was still alive. What did he do?

Third of all,

I enjoy a long-distance driving, and I had a special apparatus in my American car. A searching button on the radio, which could play all the programs for about ten seconds. One of my favorites, while traveling in my car, was to search for all the possible music channels being aired in my area and to imagine the type of people dwelling there. I travel alone, of course. (Changing music every 10 seconds… for hours…)

Well, not all American cities were my destination. In Chicago, there was no time to turn on the radio.

In Kansas City, I had to stay away from the classical music radio, which was trying to air full of shits, mainly dark and dirty Russian music. Then why not try its pop music program, which was full of stuff? You know… in Kansas City, you turn on the radio, then you’re soon gonna be sick of Elton John and his friends. For the first time in my life, my choice was “Channel: Lyrical No. 2”.

Professor Nancy Cochran Bloch forced me to contact a shrink, who even left his fucking urging voice on my answering machine. Well… after an energetic but loathsome lesson from Ms. Bloch, you enter your empty room to find this lovely message, then you turn on the classical radio, and watch this tiny but beautiful city through the window. You soon find yourself shut up in a huge ding-ward. This is Kansas City I remember.

In Urbana-Champaign, I desperately searched for all the pop music programs and soon found my favorite. My previous writings often mentioned that it was in a students’ ensemble, where I was able to make music. One of my memories… I just asked them to imagine what they heard from the pop music radio that morning. Suddenly, it was easy to teach them techniques. They were the only group, by the way, who had “still” remembered their previous concert months ago.

Not only in Kansas City, but also in Urbana-Champaign, the students welcomed my way when I asked them to compare two different approaches. With a furious doctor student standing next to them, their smile was simple: “It sure sounds better. Why not try this way? It is not an impolite way.”

Since none of them are music students, their SAT score must be above average. Where did they come from? From all over the country. You know that.

I also met one grown-up woman, who temporarily left her happy husband and playful children for her musical life. Though technically (very) weak, she was fun to play with and understood the details of what I wanted from her piano. She was from far south, maybe from Georgia.

I am still wondering… then why the wind students from far south sound like band, band, band…?

As you know, I was soon thrown out of this small, pretty, kind, but dead town. One year is enough for you to feel that your sound is dying, no matter what. That you are getting brainwashed not by the professor, but by the atmosphere in the music school. This is Urbana-Champaign I remember.

In San Francisco, where I happened to stay for couple of weeks, the first thing for me to do after the plane made a soft landing was, of course, to turn on the radio. It was full of stuff.

Well, I happened to listen to the local (students’) ensemble while searching for the channels. It was San Francisco, then why should I hear Arnold Jacobs’ best students in this large city? So, I stuck around my favorite pop channel during the whole two weeks, frequently switching from one to another. This is San Francisco I remember.

In Chicago, where I was waiting for the flight to Korea, I wanted to listen to my favorite pop program. To my surprise, I failed in Chicago. What I heard from its pop music in Chicago was exactly the same as what I heard from the classical music elsewhere in America.

Back to Korea,

I’ve met several Korean-American, who were spending their sometime in their parents’ hometown. To my surprise again, my favorite music was there… from the rhythm in their voices. They came from all over America. I keep wondering how they survive their practical life in this harsh, talkative society, if money is not all that matter in their life. Still… I am struggling with the Korean radio to find my favorite pop music program.

This is why I dared to ask late Arnold Jacobs to openly acknowledge his faulty theory and lead his America in a right way while he was still alive. What did he do?

Arnold Jacobs… so sick of this American name.

And I miss my America…


I don’t understand why Barenboim has mentioned his American experience while “lecturing” on muzak, launching a campaign against it.

I agree with some of forumites’ opinion against muzak, but personally, I still miss this same muzak, which I heard in the Jewel store. I realized that muzak could be something good, after I returned to Korea and went to the grocery store elsewhere, where the owner prefers the fast-tempoed, energetic, even hysterical or harsh muzak for his business purpose.

I was my personal problem. Barenboim’s case rather sounds his personal problem, either, whether I agree with the participants or not. I am not the only one.!execute.jspa?q=barenboim  Posted: 18-Apr-2006 : “One of Mr Barenboim’s complaints about muzak was the unfortunate coincidence of his hearing in the lift the very symphony he was about to conduct that night. Complaints of this nature should properly be addressed to a Higher Authority, not to the poor muzak programmer (who, after all, is probably only trying to do his best).”

What really means muzak?

What really means the difference between “hearing” and “listening”?

Barenboim will never understand this forumite, for his from-Liszt-to-Wagner concert hall is always packed despite his coarse performance.

It was appeared in NYT-Forum years ago.

One forumite said that he hated Mahler. He grew up with this music, which was the favorite piece of the (marching) band during his student days. Being fed up with Mr. Mahler’s unique sound, he never wants to listen to this music again. Willing to pay for the great orchestra hall? No, thanks. It sure sounds ugly.

How do I know this forumite is telling the truth?

I met one American girl, who grew up in a high school orchestra but started to hate classical music after entering the university.

She said she could no more listen to her colleague’s performance in university groups, where the conductor was doing his terrible job. She complained that they never played together. She even asked me to listen to her high school tape.

She was right.

You keep sobbing that you are a music critic.

Then, what do you define as your American music?!execute.jspa?q=barenboim  Posted: 18-Apr-2006 : “So – Mr Barenboim singles out American Standard in the Reith Lectures for being gauche. A reminder – a man of honour does not villify another in public without first offering the right of explanation or reply. Neither do the intelligent and sensitive shriek with laughter at the clumsiness or ignorance of the weaker (perhaps less fortunate or less well-educated). Shame on you!”

I am suspecting if he had followed all Barenboim’s interviews, which appeared in the British newspapers in recent years.

Somehow, I don’t understand why Barenboim always insult something American in the foreign places, especially in the Great Britain, where the folks didn’t hesitate to make him a hero only after they won the BPO battle. Has he already forgotten the very fact that he used to criticize the British orchestras and their music in his Chicago book?

IMHO, if he wants to criticize all about American, he should do this in his American hotel, rather than clinging to outsiders’ politics, which is eager to downgrade its competitors. This is I think why Barenboim always sounds dishonorable or political in his interviews.

In this Reith Forum, you can find lots of other interesting opinions, including the fanatics from Barenboim synagogue. Well… everybody has his own opinion and I just don’t understand why I never agree with Barenboim Gang. Concerning music, in particular. They are disgusting, because they sound flattery.

In other forums, including the Jewish one, there are even more interesting opinions, which I want to show you. It should be in another story.

(Too tired to finish this story…)

What do you believe is American music, American value?

This our farewell party, anyway.

I promise. You will never make it.

To be continued… 

Sincerely yours,


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