>SIDEBAR: Barenboim to leave Chicago Symphony

>Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a “box,” that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public “bar” (judge’s bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

Internationally renowned musician and conductor Daniel Barenboim will surrender his baton at the Chicago Symphony.

I am way too much of regular guy to have more than a passing interest in the goings on in the hoi polloi world of the symphony. I do enjoy classical music of the type that most snobs consider schmaltzy. I like Liszt … sway to Strauss … like Beethoven basically … Mozart mostly … Hayden religiously … and I think Rachmaninoff rocks. However, I am cool to Copland … boycott Bartok … and Mahler makes me moan.

None of this takes anything away from the professed genius of Barenboim. In fact, I have no frame of reference with which to comment or pass any sort of judgment on his talent. I can only accept the written word of music critics that he is, in fact, a talented genius.

Hence, this is not about Barenboim the music maker, but Barenboim the man — at lease from my anecdotal acquaintanceship with him as a short term neighbor. You see, for several months he lived across the hall from us, in an apartment often used by great figures from the symphony and the Lyric Opera. We had the pleasure of friendly hallway encounters with such people as Eve Marton and Boris Godunov. Among the most frequent residents of the neighboring apartment were Maestro Bruno Bartoletti and his wife. He was musical director for the Lyric Opera. They were two of the warmest and most charming people on earth. Every music superstar we met was a wonderful neighbor.

Let me stress that we were not looking for social interaction with these celebrities, but did enjoy a gracious “passing in the hallway” relationship – maybe a bit more personal with the Bartolettis, who doted on our younger son and took a professional interest in our older and very gifted opera singer son.

Then there was Barenboim. All due deference to him as a musician, I can only say that the pejorative phrase “pompous arrogant insufferable jerk” seems to pop into my head whenever I see his name. This is a guy who would not so much as acknowledge a passing hello in the hallway. Even such a common courtesy would earn a scornful look, as if you had gotten a cell phone call during Debussy – and your ring tone was something from Led Zepplin. If Barenboim was about to enter the elevator, and saw someone coming down the hall, he would actually press the door closure button before they could enter.

I am not an anti-smoking zealot, but his late night cigars wafted smoke into our kitchen enough to put our noses and ceiling smoke detector on alert. The problem was somewhat ameliorated by the building management providing an air purifier.

Barenboim did not have one apartment. He had two. While he and a lady friend seemed to be ensconced in the luxury two-bedroom corner unit, his wife, kids and servant or nanny (as it appeared) were crammed in a one bedroom apartment down the hall. On those rare occasions when we actually saw him interacting with his family, his brutal authority over the family was, shall we say, discomforting — bad enough to conjure up feelings of pity for the wife and kids we never got to know.

At least Mrs. Barenboim could still say “hi” in the hallway — unless HE was with her, of course.

They eventually moved out of that apartment, and we moved to a higher floor in the building. The up close and personal Daniel Barenboim vanished from our daily life, thank goodness. The only aftermath is my insignificant, but self satisfying protest. While I still enjoy a good classical CD, I will not purchase any where Mr. Barenboim is conducting or playing.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: