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April 3, 2009

In-depth story examines Don Rosenberg, Cleveland Orchestra, Plain Dealer case

Here's a fresh reminder about the Cleveland Plain Dealer music critic whose demotion reverberated around the world. As you recall, Don Rosenberg was removed from covering the storied Cleveland Orchestra after one criticism too many of music director Franz Welser-Most. He subsequently filed suit against his paper and the orchestra's management. That suit continues slowly to work its way through the system. Meanwhile, a compelling Cleveland Magazine article provides an in-depth look at the whole unfortunate business. Note the comment posted at the end of the article. 
Posted by Tim Smith at 12:36 PM | | Comments (1)


I really liked reading Don Rosenberg's reviews. I've only been able to attend 3 concerts in Cleveland over the past 3 years (poor rate indeed!), and I relied on his sound judgment to give me a pretty accurate picture of what happened (e.g., in the many desired concerts I had to miss). He is obviously not a fan of Welser-Möst, and while I don't wholly share that opinion, I can appreciate Don's stance.

(Quite frankly, the Cleveland Orchestra _is_ a wonderful instrument, so to speak, but I think that they're getting a tad too bland under Welser-Möst; having said that, they respond very well to his conducting style, which tends toward blended colours and technical precision over contrapuntal clarity and intensity. In short, they're losing a lot of "feeling" for the music in the quest for "refinement.")

I wish Don a lot of luck. To put the matter plainly: he got screwed, big-time!

Thanks for sharing your observations. I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the way Don was treated, although I might not be permitted to put it quite so vividly.TIM

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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.
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