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May 21, 2009

The merciless Madoff has taken toll on music, too

Depressing reading this morning from Dan Wakin of the Times. It's a report on how the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, which has awarded valuable scholarships to musicians for decades, saw its $14 million endowment disappear in the Madoff Ponzi operation.

The foundation is having to cut back severely on those scholarships, which, in years past, went to promising students with such names as Itzhak Perlman, Yefim Bronfman and Daniel Barenboim. It would be, well, criminal, if ... 

budding and needy talents find their artistic paths blocked by the foundation's cutbacks, all because of Madoff.

I don't think we're close to understanding the full story of this massive and merciless scheme, which has taken such a toll on so many individuals and on so many worthy philanthropic organizations. Last week's Frontline report just scratched the surface.

At least we know that music, and all the other great impulses that spring from our better selves, will always outlast the creeps and crooks of the world. 

To get the thought of that smug Madoff out of our minds, at least for a moment, here's Barenboim, a beneficiary of the America-Israel Foundation in her early days, playing the sublime Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations.  



Posted by Tim Smith at 7:42 AM | | Comments (0)

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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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