James Levine has died at the age of 77. He was a symphony conductor most known for his decades-long career as the music director of the Metropolitan Opera of New York. He also conducted many symphony orchestras including in Chicago and Boston.
I had only seen Levine conduct twice, both in New York with the Met Opera, late 1970s-early 1980s. I’m not an opera person, mainly symphony music. Of the recordings I have had of Levine conducting, including the Beethoven Piano Concertos with Alfred Brendel and the Mahler 1st and 7th Symphonies, I didn’t like them. They were terrible recordings. And frankly, Levine was overrated as a conductor. However, I did like his recording of the Violin Concertos by Berg and Stravinsky with Itzhak Perlman soloist. That last one was on LP. I no longer have any LPs. (For those under 50, an “LP” refers to a long-playing record, those wide, flat discs made of vinyl that you place a “needle” on for it to play stuff. I actually used to have “45s” that are smaller, during the 1970s.
So James Levine, long-established symphony conductor, was sadly also a child molester and child abuser, based on what I have read. During the 2017-18 “#MeToo” movement, and during all the accusations of sexual misconduct or harassment against the actors, show-biz celebrities, TV news people, etc., such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, and Bill O’Reilly, there were also revelations regarding James Levine.
Well, they were not actually “revelations,” because apparently it was widely known for years that Levine was getting together with teenage boys for you-know-what kinds of things, while many other musicians and orchestra managements “looked the other way.” Supposedly, Levine’s brother Tom, who died a year or two ago, allegedly helped to set up those tête-à-têtes between Levine and teenage boys for years. How sick.
I wrote about the allegations of abuse made against Levine back in 2017, and then I wrote about the further elaborations from the Boston Globe on what had turned out to be a James Levine “cult” with some of the young teenaged musicians claiming to have been “brainwashed” in the alleged “cult.” In in some cases he was physically abusive, allegedly. So Levine was a really sick, perv child-molesting abuser. Oh, well.
Some people might think it tasteless and inappropriate for me to bring those things up at the time of Levine’s death. But, first I don’t think that all those accusers were making up their accusations, and there were many accusers now, alleging abuse going back to the 1960s. So I think that anyone who abuses and exploits young people, especially in sexual ways, is a scumbag, and that’s my opinion on that. James Levine has died, and good riddance, in my view.