Some five years ago, I wrote an article for Commentary detailing what seemed to me then a crisis in New York musical life. In it, I discussed the general state of apathy among musicians and audiences alike, and I found this mood responsible for a long list of symptoms of institutional ill health. These included the orchestra strike and the contraction in the length of the season at Beverly Sills’s City Opera, the stagnation of the repertory and the vacancy in administrative leadership at the Metropolitan Opera, and the rampant player dissatisfaction with conductor Zubin Mehta at the Philharmonic.[1]

In the intervening years much has happened. Hundreds of concerts and opera performances have been given. Artist fees— and administrative salaries—have continued to rise, as have marketing and fund-raising costs. There have been two boomlets, one...


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