IN: News & Features

A Bouquet for Bettina


This announcement of the retirement of BMInt’s executive editor comes with regrets from many on the staff.

Bettina A. (Toni) Norton told me last week that she would be retiring from active editing of the Boston Musical Intelligencer, citing her age and the relentlessness of deadlines.  I asked her to consider remaining in an advisory capacity as emerita editor, and I’m delighted that she agreed. I also told her how proud I am of the distance we have covered together in three short years to create an essential classical music journal for Boston. The accolades from BMInt’s illustrious advisor Robert Levin and many of our dedicated reviewers testify eloquently to Toni’s qualities.  –Lee Eiseman, publisher

All of us connected with the Boston Musical Intelligencer shall certainly miss Bettina Norton’s keen intellect and sure editorial hand.  A co-founder of BMInt, she exercised insightful and erudite supervision of the cascade of reviews pouring in from an impressively large and diverse coterie of contributors.  All of these benefited greatly from Toni’s acuity, eloquently documented by the encomia they have sent upon the news of her retirement from the Intelligencer. The ultimate beneficiaries, of course, are you, our devoted readers. Our ideals at the Intelligencer remain as lofty as they are altruistic—to provide the greater Boston community and the larger world a scope of reporting on musical events not found elsewhere.  Toni Norton was a linchpin figure in this. As she turns to other pursuits, Lee and I and all of the dedicated writers shall be on our mettle to match her dedication and flair, and to remain worthy of the faith our readers put in us. –Robert Levin, BMInt Advisor.

Toni at the barricades in 2002 (F. Lee Eiseman photo)

Anyone who has helped increase awareness of classical music in this region has rendered a fine service! To have helped do so in a sophisticated and informed manner, also creating an online community and discussion group, are achievements that meet a real need. –David Moran

Of the many editors I’ve had in book and in music reviewing, Toni was one of my all-time favorites.  She was extraordinary in so many ways, and was so appreciative when I wrote well. I felt she cared enormously about the quality of what was in the Intelligencer, and she got me to do more last minute reviewing than I ever imagined I’d be able or want to do.  She was very persuasive! –Susan Miron

There are few people that can badger a writer with as much panache and gentility as Toni.  They don’t make them of such quality any more. –Richard Bunbury

Respectfully tenacious and energetically old-school; a vernal grande dame among online journal editors.  She will be missed!   –Tom Schnauber, Ph.D.

Toni was more than a comma-catcher for BMInt. She was a valued editor and manager of contributors. From my very first reviews I felt at home with her. –Michael Johnson (Brookline and Bordeaux)

As founding executive editor of BMInt, Toni established the style and tone of high professionalism that has allowed BMInt to be taken not as just another blog, but as a serious journal of musical culture. If BMInt succeeds in establishing itself as the 21stcentury’s Dwight’s Journal, it will be because Toni set it on the right path. –Vance Koven

Toni was everything a good editor should be – supportive and encouraging of a fledgling writer like me, with a good eye for matching the right writer to the right performance, wielding the editor’s scalpel with deft precision, and relishing a good argument without provoking deliberately.  It was a rare privilege to work for her.  –James C. S. Liu

Toni, for many years I have known you as a brilliant leader who sees the far horizons. Hesitatingly I wrote my first review, and you could not know how much I appreciated your enthusiastic remark about it. In large measure you encouraged me now to write a second, and I thank you. –Joyce Painter Rice

I am most grateful for all of Toni’s help, encouragement and patience with me. It’s only due to her gentle (and let’s face it: really kind) words that I’ve been able to think outside the box in writing reviews, and that I’ve been lucky enough to try different styles. I’m very grateful for this, and her impact on me goes beyond my writing for the BMInt. Certainly, her absence will be felt, not only in the BMInt, but also personally. –Sudeep Agarwala

Without Toni’s enthusiasm and resourcefulness, her ability to attract a large cohort of volunteer collaborators, her knowledge of and commitment to the Boston musical scene, most of all her editorial skills and sheer hard work, the BMInt could not have become the well-respected and many-faceted forum it is today. Reviewers of diverse types of expertise and experience interact with bloggers of equally varied points of view in a lively conversation that inspires active participation in Boston’s musical life. –Virginia Newes

One of the best things about being a young musician in Boston is the wealth of role models, mentors, and inspirational colleagues here to help guide us through the often terrifying vagaries of our chosen paths, and Toni is one of the standouts on my own list. I appreciate the knowledge, stories, and humor she shared with me as I worked with her as writer and intern – an eye-opening experience to the incredible richness and intricate connections of the musical community in which I’ve made my home. –Zoe Kemmerling

It is hard to imagine BMInt without Toni’s energy, drive and persistence. We will go on, but it won’t be the same.  –Leon Golub

Toni, I am comparatively new, but nonetheless, you’ve spoiled me as far as editors go.  –Andrew Sammut

Thanks for your inspirational enthusiasm, direction, and tenacity!  –Janice Weber

It was good to re-connect with you, Tony, after having intersected a while back on that other shared plane of our interests in Cambridge History! As a new-comer to this group, I’ve had less time to be in touch this time around, but I wish you well as you move beyond this role in your continued work and life!  –D. LaRue

I can’t imagine the BMint without your constant encouragement and guidance – and certainly without your knack of getting me and other reviewers to step up to the plate. But we will persevere, if only for your sake. –David Griesinger w/ Brian Jones, Joel Cohen, Christoph Wolf, John Ehrlich, Mark Kroll.

It’s been a pleasure working with Toni!  –Taryn Lott BSO

More echoes of deeply felt gratitude and fanfares of praise sounded—all for you, Toni. I will miss reviewing-life without you.  –David Patterson

Toni Norton welcomed me into the fold of writers for the Boston Musical Intelligencer. She cleft my long sentences and pruned my verbosity. We are all the happier for her successful efforts.  As she puts down the editor’s red pen, we shall carry on as best we can – slaying our own semicolons and suppressing our own repetitious words. May she enjoy time with family and friends, and all the concerts her editing duties kept her from hearing!  –Cashman Kerr Prince

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to peek out over the walls of academia to realize how musicology can and should connect with concert-going audiences. I am forever grateful for your patience and guidance. –Rebecca Marchand

Toni has been a treasure for the Boston Musical Intelligencer and for me personally. When I started writing for BMInt, it was not without a few misgivings. As a former copy editor, I was not sure how I would find being edited myself (the old saw about doctors being the worst patients came often to mind). Toni quickly allayed my concerns and bolstered the confidence of one who had never written for a mass readership. She was a “gentle” editor, but when she did intervene, her emendations were carefully considered and virtually always improved my writing. I will sorely miss her thoughtful perfectionism leavened with a healthy sense of humor. I owe her a great debt. Many, many thanks, Toni!  –Geoff Wieting


6 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. Thank you, all. I will miss my productive and delightful interactions with most of you, and I do hope they continue.

    And I thank all those performing organizations, whose concerts I attend as a regular paying audience member, who have offered me FREE tickets! Warning to Radius, who offered them to me for a “lifetime”: I may make it to 100.

    My exact comment to Lee was, “At my age, I don’t need the aggravation.” Pax vobiscum.

    Comment by Bettina A. Norton — October 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

  2. Toni,

    May you live to be 120 and may you stay as feisty and fabulous as you now are.
    Every musical organization in town should be giving you tickets. You have earned them!
    And thank you for not only your editing but for the many laughs we have shared. Hope I kept aggravation as a minimum!

    Comment by Susan Miron — October 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

  3. Congratulations Toni for your wonderful inning of three years as Executive Editor of the Boston Musical Intelligencer. I can very well visualize the excellent contribution made by you that is evident from the great word of appreciation from BMI Advisor Robert Levin and many others and entire BMI staff.
    Your decision to take voluntary retirement speaks volumes of you being extremely conscious of the quality of work delivered by you witin the specified timelines and deadlines. It is your greatness that you have agreed to make your services available in the Advisory capacity.
    Toni ! I am really proud of you.
    Best wishes,
    Lt Gen(Retd) Ashok Agarwal

    Comment by Ashok Agarwal — October 22, 2012 at 6:52 pm

  4. These three years passed fleetingly, but you have surely contributed significantly as noted by your colleagues’ numerous accolades, Your energy and enthusiasm has served this venue/community well. I am proud to call you Mom.

    Comment by Ben Norton — October 23, 2012 at 7:17 am

  5. Toni, we’re on our way to the next chapter! Your enthusiasm and love of music are just downright inspirational. How good to see you at the Boston Camerata concert yesterday, and I look forward to many more moments of sharing music and fellowship with you.

    Comment by Joel Cohen — October 29, 2012 at 11:16 am

  6. Ad multos annos as Editor Emerita!

    Comment by Joe Whipple — October 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, this comment forum is now closed.