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Blair Tindall: 1960 – 2023


Today’s papers announce the death of Blair Tindall, oboist, memoirist, and sociologist of classical music, at the age of 63, too young.  I will miss her.  Her book, “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music,” is still a good, witty read, despite that it will raise eyebrows no longer. It is an honest and considerably accurate portrait not only of the classical instrumentalist’s performing world, and not just in New York but with wide application all over the United States, but also of the forlorn ambience of the classical music industry, especially in recording.  MITJ caused a stir when the book appeared in 2005, propelling it into a still-available, four-season Amazon Prime series [HERE]. (The sexy bits are mildly titillating, and charming for their forthrightness, but the only moment in the book that definitely shocked me was when a disappointed boy smashed a 200-year-old violin.) The several chapters about Tindall’s troubled liaison with the twice-heart-transplanted pianist Sam Sanders are touching. But most of all the objective reporting is the really absorbing part of the book, and Tindall’s lively and precise writing reveals a born stylist. She submitted to a promotional interview in these pages HERE, and she made four intemperate midnight comments on a review [HERE] which cited her book. I didn’t meet her but I did write to her, suggesting that her historian father might have known mine, and including a list of corrections for the next printing (Brahms didn’t write a G minor Quintet, for instance, page 28).


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

  1. The MITJ show was on Amazon Prime (it’s still there), not Netflix, and hardly short-lived. It ran for four seasons from 2014-2018, and though far from perfect, it had some memorable characters and a unique, breezy, magical-realist charm. There were fun cameos from many big names, and though its representation of the classical music world was riddled with exaggerations and absurdities, it was kind of fun to see stories play out in this relatively obscure subculture. It was quite different both in tone and purpose from Tindall’s book, both more fantastic and gentler, but I think a modest success at the least. It even won a Golden Globe for best comedy series and another for best actor (Gael García Bernal).

    Comment by Michael Monroe — April 22, 2023 at 3:03 pm

  2. Michael-

    Thanks for the correction. So noted in the article.

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — April 22, 2023 at 3:21 pm

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