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September 4, 2012

Personnel move at New York Times stirs concern in classical music world

Allan Kozinn, one of the most widely respected and admired critics at the paper for more than three decades, has been reassigned to a broader cultural beat.


It seems that Kozinn will not be reviewing for the Times at all. What a curious move for one of the greatest and, many of us thought, wisest of publications. Why would you ever want to marginalize such an incisive, engaging voice?

I know that there are at least two sides to every story. I know, too, that ...

things look very different from the outside of any institution. But something about this development just does not feel right, doesn't seem fair.

It is, at the very least, disheartening, especially to those of us who have been in music journalism a long time, have seen a lot of troubling things happen in the profession -- and to the people in it -- over the years. Stories like this hit home in a big way.

Norman Lebrecht broke the news Monday with a behind-the-scenes report that prompted a great deal of response; the comments on the site are worth a read. Lebrecht posted a New York writer's reaction on his site today. And Alex Ross speaks for many of us in his response to the news about Kozinn.

An online petition to reinstate Kozinn is circulating.  


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:34 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Clef Notes


The New York Times is a rapidly-sinking ship. This is just another episode that proves the paper's irrelevance to anyone today with a brain and access to other and better media (often for free!)

In 1977, I started a classical record shop called Orpheus Remarkable Recordings. That such a far-out venture should occur to me was grounded in the fact that NYC, thanks to critics like Allan Kozinn, had a wide and lively music scene. But then again, in those days we also had a newspaper of record.

Unbelievable, my favorite NY Times critic is sacked out!

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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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