The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Does a critic have the right to independent judgment? Not in Cleveland, it seems

August 8, 2010
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

How much right does a music critic – or any art critic – have to his or her opinion without being retaliated against by either an arts organization or by a media organization?

That crucial question was answered this week by a lawsuit in Cleveland, Ohio.

And the results are not encouraging.

The answer? Not much in the way of rights, it seems.

Music critic Donald Rosenberg (below) was punished and reassigned and told not to review concerts by the Cleveland Orchestra after he repeatedly criticized the conductor Franz Welser-Most.

Apparently, readers of the Cleveland Plain Dealer complained and the editor of the newspaper, Susan Goldberg, took those complaints about the conductor (below) to heart and forbade Rosenberg from reviewing the orchestra and conductor.

So Rosenberg filed a court suit against the newspaper and the orchestra.

And this week he lost to a jury verdict.

It’s not  good news for independent critical judgment.

Anyway, here is a link to the story about the case as it was covered in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/arts/music/07critic.html?_r=1

One has to wonder: Will the same criteria serve as a precedent when political or business groups don’t like the coverage they are getting?

Maybe there’s something I don’t know about the case.

But it sure sounds like intimidation to me. Most editors wouldn’t put up with that kind of censorship it on the Op-Ed (opinion and editorials) Page, so why would they put up with it in an arts column of opinion?

It’s enough to make you wonder and be disturbed.

What do you think of the incident?

What do you think of the outcome of the lawsuit?

Here is a link to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Let them know what you think:

http://www.cleveland.com/contactus/

And here is a link to the Cleveland Orchestra. Let them know what you think. (The e-mail button is on the left side of the page.)

http://www.clevelandorchestra.com/contact.aspx

And let me know what you told them.

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

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