« Eschenbach: music director of NSO, Kennedy Center | Main | Concert Artists open season in French mood »

September 26, 2008

Petition to reinstate Cleveland Plain Dealer critic

The controversy over the shabby treatment of Cleveland Plain Dealer music critic Don Rosenberg -- barred by the paper's editor from covering the Cleveland Orchestra -- continues to reverberate. A "Free Press Cleveland" movement has emerged, organized by concerned Clevelanders, to gather signatures online for a letter of protest to that editor, Susan Goldberg, and the paper's president/CEO (and Cleveland Orchestra board member) Terrance Egger.

It's a hard-hitting letter that that describes the situation as "an act of censorship and an embarrassment to the city." The final plea: "Restore Donald Rosenberg to his post as Music Critic, with no restrictions. Restore our faith in the Plain Dealer." I couldn't agree more.

The full text of the letter and instructions on how to ...

add your name are given below. Obviously, you don't have to be from Cleveland to be interested in this issue, which affects anyone who cares about the art of music and the role of music criticism in the service of that art.


Let's not tolerate censorship!  The many comments posted on Tim Smith's blogs and other blogs reveal widespread outrage against the Plain Dealer.  It's now time for us to write to the PD.  There have been examples in other cities where a newspaper has fired a critic, then reversed the decision after being swamped with letters. If enough of us write and demand Rosenberg's reinstatement as Music Critic, the PD may back down. 
If you prefer safety in numbers, (especially if you are a musician in Cleveland, fearing reprisal) you can join us in signing this petition (see below).  Please email me at, to indicate that you want to be listed as a signator on the letter.  If you are willing to have your title or affiliation also listed, please indicate that.  When we have collected a healthy number of signators, we'll send the letter to the PD.
If you prefer to write your own letter, go to and send 200 words or less.
Free Press
Free Criticism
Free Rosenberg!

To: Terrance Egger, President & C.E.O. Susan Goldberg, Editor

We, the undersigned, protest the Plain Dealer's treatment of nationally respected Music Critic Donald Rosenberg. Your decision to ban him from reviewing the Cleveland Orchestra is an act of censorship and an embarrassment to the city. Since you failed to clearly report the action to your readers, we had to find out the truth from the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Boston, etc.

Rosenberg did not resign, as the Plain Dealer seemed to imply. He was demoted, for having respectfully and intelligently criticized a conductor who has met with mixed reviews around the world. As stated by Musical, Rosenberg is "among the most respected music critics in the business." His reviews were not biased; he reported what he heard, and fostered healthy and intelligent debate. That is a critic's job. The integrity of the Plain Dealer is in question. Your action has sullied the reputations of both the PD and the Orchestra. Since Plain Dealer C.E.O. Terrance Egger is a trustee of the Orchestra, the politics behind the decision are obvious.

Restore Donald Rosenberg to his post as Music Critic, with no restrictions. Restore our faith in the Plain Dealer.


Posted by Tim Smith at 3:28 PM | | Comments (5)


I URGE everyone to DO THE RIGHT THING and sign this petition - FREE PRESS!...FREE SPEECH!!...FREE ROSENBERG!!!

good for you

I am a former Clevelander and a Cleveland Orchestra fan since Rodzinski! This critic is no fool. His book about the Orchestra is extremely clear and balanced. He is paid to write his opinions, which don't become worthless the minute he criticizes something. Rather, I would prefer that music criticism didn't exist at all! Not very useful!

Ms Anderson, why do you feel music criticism is not very useful? I'm interested to know if the concert or opera was good bad or indifferent. Even if I'm not going to attend a later performance or if I attended and want to know how my reaction compares to someone more knowledgeable than me, a review is useful. If nothing else I learn if our local groups are doing well, improving or going down.

The view that all opinions are valid is misguided. No, its wrong. Some people do know more than others. The lucky ones get paid to be critics.

I just read Joshua Kosman's article about this in the San Francisco Chronicle. I am horrified. Thanks for spreading the word, Tim.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected