TANGLEWOOD by Andrew L. Pincus


The Clash Between Tradition and Change
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It’s always a valuable exercise when critics step out of the moment to subject our most established artistic institutions to the magnifying glass, for they become reliable bellwethers of larger cultural trends. Such is certainly the case with this valuable look at Tanglewood. For nearly 60 years, Tanglewood, in western Massachusetts, has been the summer residence of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and an oasis of classical music scholarship, pedagogy, and performance. Pincus, an award-winning music critic for the Berkshire Eagle, the Boston Globe, and other newspapers, has been covering Tanglewood for nearly a quarter-century. His informed account takes up where his Scenes from Tanglewood (1989) left off, chronicling the modernization’some have argued commodification—of the festival under the tutelage of current BSO director and conductor Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa, more profoundly than any of the Tanglewood legends (Serge Koussevitsky, Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf, and Leonard Bernstein) in whose legacies he operates, has been charged with reconciling the festival with both economic and cultural realities. In this respect, Pincus’s overview is not only a worthwhile history of the phenomenon of Tanglewood, but also a paradigmatic appraisal of Ozawa’s navigation of the art and administration of the classical repertory itself. Pincus’s commentary is honest and astute throughout, as when he notes the revolution implicit in the mundane appearance of ’signs . . . on the manicured lawn outside . . . warning that the grass, chairs and tables, with their commanding view of the lake and hills, were for the use of club members only.— That the club in question was an outgrowth of the construction—with monies provided by the conductor’s friends at the Sony Corporation—of Seiji Ozawa Hall illuminates the extent to which market forces have impinged on this formerly utopian compound; that they took so long to arrive reminds us of Tanglewood’s strange existence behind and, until recently, even beyond the times. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 5th, 1998
ISBN: 1-55553-346-9
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998