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Counterpunch

One Man's Music

September 20, 1993|JONATHAN DOBRER | Dobrer, of Encino, is a writer and motivational speaker who enjoys music indiscriminately.

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Martin Bernheimer really knows music. His ear is impeccable, his taste sublime. He also knows how to write, to communicate his fine-tuned perceptions both to the masses and the elite ("Lurid Russian Flames at the Bowl," Calendar, Sept. 6). He is simply the best! In fact, he is far too good to sit under the flight path that overhangs the Hollywood Bowl and to contend with the distractions of rolling bottles and inappropriate applause from those less refined.

Really, when you think about it, he is far too good for Los Angeles. We don't deserve him. He is a critic for the big city, the sophisticated city, places such as New York or London or Vienna.

He would love Vienna where, like him, a large portion of the audience buys tickets, not to enjoy the music but to wallow in the schadenfreude of joy at the mistakes of the musicians. In Vienna, many patrons bring the score of the evening's concert and keep score. They follow along, waiting for a false note, a botched legato, a high note flattened.

Even better, there are the true cognoscenti who buy tickets for composers whom they detest in order to jeer and be offended. Attending a Schoenberg concert in Vienna is an experience, rivaled only by attending a soccer match in England while rooting for Holland.

Bernheimer can find happiness by joining the throngs of the perpetually petulant and unhappy. He is like those musicians cursed with perfect pitch, for whom relative pitch is an agony, a maddening torture. Just as they cannot adjust to relative pitch, Bernheimer cannot adjust his perfectly tuned critical sensibilities to popular, middle-brow entertainment. And it is unfair to make him try.

*

Please save the good Mr. Bernheimer from such a fate. Do not make him listen to a charming and informative conductor such as John Mauceri. Do not subject him to the horrible sound of the full-capacity Hollywood Bowl audience cheering lustily for music that is beneath his contempt.

Do not send this man to a fireworks-filled celebration of "Pictures at an Exhibition." He could not possibly appreciate it for what it is. He can only critique it for what it is not.

Bernheimer is a serious critic, a serious man. Do not, I implore you, feed his anhedonia. The poor man has suffered enough.

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