The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Longtime New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow retires to teach. The Ear remembers him from TV and sees why the media jumped on his leaving.

July 2, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

I have seen him live in concert and in person only once.

But over decades I have seen him many times in The New York Times and especially on PBS, particularly on “Live from Lincoln Center” and, if I recall correctly, “American Masters.”

I have heard him in regular subscription concerts and also, I think, in Mainly Mozart concerts. I think I have even heard him solo at least once or twice, maybe more.

And chances are, so have you.

He is violinist Glenn Dicterow (below), the longtime concertmaster of  the world-class New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

glenn dicterow

The Ear is not surprised that the retirement of Glenn Dicterow this past weekend made the media in a major way.

He is a smart, talented, humorous, good-natured and articulate man and musician who has a lot to say about music and about working with some celebrated figures, including conductors Leonard Bernstein (below), Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel and Alan Gilbert.


The stories about Dicterow also give us a renewed and expanded appreciation of the role of a concertmaster, and how a concertmaster can affect an entire orchestra and how the orchestra sounds and how its members get along with each other and with the maestro.

Dicterow played his swan-song concert this past weekend.

Here are backstories and a review of his final “New York Phil” concert:

Here is the story that appeared on the outstanding “Deceptive Cadence” blog on NPR:

And here is a similar story, with lots of facts, including his incredible salary, from The New York Times:

Here is the story that ran in the Wall Street Journal:

glenn dicterow 2

Here is a review of his last concert with the New York Philharmonic performing the Triple Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven with New York Philharmonic principal cello Carter Brey and guest pianist-in-residence Yefim Bronfman, who played two Beethoven piano concertos (Nos. 2 and 5, the “Emperor”) this past season with the Madison Symphony Orchestra under John DeMain.

Finally, and in case you thought ensemble players were necessarily less virtuosic than soloists, here is a YouTube video of Glenn Dicterow playing the fiendishly difficult “Carmen” Fantasy by  composer Franz Waxman (below), who is better known for the Hollywood movie scores he wrote after he fled Nazi Germany. Dicterow plays it with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. (You can also see him perform other works and talk about his role as concertmaster on YouTube.)

Franz Waxman

Sounds like Glenn Dicterow will be a fantastic teacher at the same school in Los Angeles, California where the legendary violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz taught for so many years:



Classical music Q&A: Station manager James Steinbach talks about how Wisconsin Public Television is collaborating with educators to broadcast more music and performing arts events as part of its “Young Performers Series.”

June 27, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Wisconsin Public Television has always been a great source of information, entertainment and enlightenment for viewers who like and appreciate the performing arts. Over the years, The Ear has been a devoted fan of “Live From Lincoln Center,” “American Masters” and much more.

But now, with new equipment, the statewide PBS network is planning to bring viewers even more local arts coverage.

Despite his hectic schedule, WPT’s Director of Television and Station Manager James Steinbach, who oversees the six-station network, took time out to talk about future plans – and achievements over the past year, which the Ear has watched and liked very much — with The Ear.

Here is my Q&A with James Steinbach (below):

James Steinbach Director of Television in suit

Is WPT planning to change how it covers classical music and other genres of music or the performing arts? (The Jewel Box concert by the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in the Stoughton Opera House last summer comes to mind.) How will it change and what role does some new equipment make it possible?

Wisconsin Public Television has made a renewed commitment to covering the arts and classical music around Wisconsin, with a specific focus on our state’s talented young performers through a project called the “Young Performers Initiative.”

Our first “Venture Forward” capital campaign outfitted a new high-definition remote production studio, which has greatly expanded our ability to travel the state and capture what is important to the communities we serve. With enhanced mobility, we are able to visit concert halls, stages and schools to share the wonderful talent of our youth and their educators with our statewide audiences.

Are there certain events like the Madison Symphony Orchestra concert with the Naughton Twins, the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet and the Wisconsin School Music Association State Honors Concerts set up? Are specific broadcast dates and times set, and when are they?

We launched our “Young Performers Initiative” with the “State Honors Concerts” ( in February (below top) followed by the “Final Forte” ( (below bottom) in March and  “Live at Overture: The Naughtons” (  in April.

wpt wisconsin state honors concert 2-13 2

Wisconsin Public TV Final Forte 2012 logo

Most recent was our annual broadcast of the “UW Spring Varsity Band Show.” (  And in early June we featured “Spirited Songs: A Choral Celebration.” ( Also in June, we will be recording the 2013 Tommy Awards at the Overture Center for later broadcast. Check out for more broadcast details.

For the coming years, we have mapped out a potential production schedule to continue this commitment to featuring young artists on a regular basis. This is an ambitious and important effort for the station and our partners — Milwaukee Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin School Music Association.

Why does WPT want to do this?

The “Young Performers Initiative” provides a focus area through which to celebrate the vibrancy of Wisconsin communities, to raise awareness for the events they take pride in, and to inspire new generations of support and participation in these activities.

Despite economic headwinds, the arts remain an important part of Wisconsin life due to the unrelenting and collaborative efforts of arts proponents, educators and community leaders around the state. We want to shine a spotlight on these efforts, and celebrate the continued dedication and talent of Wisconsin’s young performers and those who inspire them.

WYSO rehesrsal Philharmonia Violins

The performances we share with viewers around the state are certainly inspiring. Equally inspiring is the work educators and young people do every day in their classrooms.

To support and enhance this work, we’ve partnered with Wisconsin School Music Association (a photo of its Waunakee headquarters is below) to develop and disseminate unique, effective and local classroom resources to complement existing arts curriculum.

These resources will include repurposed performance video featuring Wisconsin’s young artists, the state’s standards-based lesson plans, viewing guides and behind-the-scenes footage, including effective rehearsals, inspiring interviews and more.

We know from research that involvement in and simply exposure to the arts can offer a lifetime of inherent benefits for children, along with enriched academic and social skills.

They won’t all be musicians or dancers or actors, but they will be tomorrow’s engaged citizens, audience and supporters.

Wisconsin School Music sign

What else would you like to say about WPT’s past, present and future coverage of local classical music (and the live music) around the state or about other arts coverage? Are there specific plans for the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Appleton, Lacrosse and other areas of Wisconsin?

We have held listening sessions in almost all regions of the state to learn what’s important to each community. What are the events and concerts they are most proud of? We have plans to return to all the listed communities, and more in the coming years. We look forward to celebrating the events, people and places that bring the arts to life in Wisconsin.

What else would you like to add?

We know, with absolute certainty, that many young people across the state are practicing their hearts out with supportive parents, teachers and communities behind them. These hardworking and talented young people deserve to be seen, heard and recognized on a statewide scale. Great kids doing great things? Public television should be there!

Check out this video for more information about the Young Performers Initiative:

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