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Subject: Re: In the Maestro's Thrall
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sat, 3 Mar 2018 12:28:22 -0500

text/plain (47 lines)

Don Harley wrote:

"The situation was much worse than I ever knew and I'm horrified that anyone, outside of 
politics, would use his stature for the purpose he did."

Well, it sounded to me like a garden-variety cult built around a charismatic cult figure.  It is 
"horrifying" to the extent any similar cult is "horrifying."  But it is also clear to me from the 
article that members of the cult - the "Levinites" - had mixed feelings and reactions to it.  
As is so often the case in life, it sounds like it was a very complicated situation.  Obviously 
there were significant rewards, in terms of musical development, to being part of Levine's 
cult.  Do we know how the Levinites who got jobs at the Met or had their careers enhanced 
by their association with Levine feel about him today?  If their view of Levine is, on balance, 
a positive one, should that weigh in the balance?         

What I want to know is, did this kind of controlling, abusive (not just sexually) behavior 
continue to manifest itself after Levine became associated with the Met in 1972?  I may 
have missed something, but I don't recall hearing any horror stories during Levine's Met 
tenure of the kind recounted in the Boston Globe.  This doesn't excuse any abusive behavior 
that Levine may have demonstrated earlier, but if it stopped decades ago, to me that does 
call into question the relevance of the abuse to who Levine is today.

I think if there are any more recent examples of such behavior by Levine in musical circles, 
they will come out soon, as Levine is not longer a potent or intimidating force in music 
these days, and if people have stories to share, at least some of them will do so .  If all we 
hear is crickets, I think that will be some kind of answer to the question I raised in the 
previous paragraph. 

Did Levine himself come to realize how unhealthy was his pattern of behavior and stop it?  I 
don't know, but if he did, doesn't that count in how we judge Levine the man today?  I'm 
not implying an answer, just saying that I don't have it and therefore I am not quite as 
ready to cast James Levine into outer darkness and make him a Non-Person as others on 
this List are.  I don't have enough of the whole picture of his life to make that judgment.


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