“The seriousness of the allegations swirling around James Levine, the erstwhile music director of the Metropolitan Opera, has precipitated the classical music industry to ask uncomfortable questions of itself, in particular about the cultural legitimization of abusive behavior,” writes Jennifer Johnston in Friday’s (12/8) Guardian (U.K.). “The cult of the maestro has thrived precisely because of the uniquely difficult demands of the music: great power and privilege [are] bestowed on those perceived to be geniuses, and behavior that would be unacceptable in other contexts may be excused or swept under the carpet.… A recent study commissioned by the Incorporated Society of Musicians reported a ‘high level’ of discrimination and sexual harassment in the classical music sector.… The classical music industry has a duty to protect the vulnerable and those at risk of abuse…. It may be difficult to achieve, but I would like to see an industry-wide code of conduct, clearly setting out standards of behavior expected of everyone.…  If the industry is perceived as continuing to facilitate abuse even in the face of major scandals, it will lose its credibility, and the support of sponsors and audiences will evaporate.”

Posted December 12, 2017