At a time when music promoters everywhere are toying with the conventions of the concert series in hopes of increasing box-office business, it should come as no surprise that the Metropolitan Museum of Art also wants into the act. This past fall the museum inaugurated its “Music for a While” series, nine hour-long concerts scheduled for Fridays at 7:00 in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. These have been zealously marketed by the museum’s concert-and-lecture administration as a concertgoing opportunity for almost everyone—from those who “wish to experience a variety of museum activities”to those who may be “loath to commit a whole evening”to music. The concert-and-lecture brochure distributed last summer suggested that listeners combine this musical interlude “with a visit to the Museum’s exhibitions or an early supper.”

In the context of the Met’s...


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