Episodes in the Life of a Manager of an Orchestra


A wealthy member of an orchestra manager’s board read the story by Alex Ross in the New Yorker (October 20, 2014) about Beethoven annotating “a critic’s negative commentary of Wellington’s Victory with the words, “What I shit is better than anything you have ever thought.”

The board member considered the language inappropriate and demanded that the orchestra stop playing Beethoven.

Another wealthy board member discovered that Mozart’s canon Leck mich im Arsch K. 231 (K6 382c) includes the lyrics: “Leck mich im A[rsch] g’schwindi, g’schwindi!” (“Lick me in the arse quickly, quickly!”, i.e., kiss my arse!)

The board member considered the language inappropriate and demanded that the orchestra stop playing Mozart.


Valentina LisitraYielding to pressure, Jeff Melanson of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has cancelled Valentina Lisitra’s concerts after complaints over her views on the conflict in Ukraine, stated in vulgar and offensive language.


8 responses to “Episodes in the Life of a Manager of an Orchestra

  1. Censoring for reasons scatological
    Is surely perverse and illogical.
    And Jeff’s a big fart
    For denying us art
    On grounds that are just ideological.

  2. Horace Krever

    Paul Robeson’s experience and, generally, the Hollywood blacklist are not dissimilar phenomena. By the way, speaking of Robeson, when the Hollywood actor, Adolph Menjou was testifying before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, on October 21, 1947. he was asked if he had any other tests ( in addition to those he had already mentioned ) which would indicate whether people acted like Communists, he replied, “Well, I think attending any meetings at which Mr. Paul Robeson appeared, and applauded or listening to his Communist songs in America. I would be ashamed to be seen in an audience doing a thing of that kind.”

  3. Maybe we should boycott the TSO for six months. She has a right to her opinions. What were they thinking? Provincial in the extreme.

  4. Is my memory correct that, some years ago, when the TSO had planned a US tour, it’s concert master at the time, Stephen Staryk, was banned from entry on political grounds and that the orchestra went on without him?

    • Yes, it did. Sir Ernest MacMillan did not renew Staryk’s contract, nor that of the five other members of the orchestra who were not allowed to cross the border. Their careers in Toronto were over.

  5. Banning her was clearly a reaction to pressure from the Ukrainian lobby in Canada. How much pressure remains to be seen but the clout of a small group is way out of line. Melanson should resign or be fired by the board. While Harper is totally backing the Kiev government, the situation is far from clear cut.