LENOX — For the previous 100 years, The Berkshire Eagle has had simply two classical music critics — together with the foremost task of reviewing live shows for the reason that Boston Symphony’s summer season house at Tanglewood opened in 1937.
Jay C. Rosenfeld of Pittsfield labored for The Eagle from 1919 till shortly earlier than his dying in October 1975, reviewing Berkshire live shows and masking Tanglewood.
From 1975 by way of final summer season, so did Lenox resident Andrew L. Pincus, 91, whose retirement is introduced right this moment.
Each wrote for The New York Occasions as freelancers. Their mixed longevity masking classical music is an almost sure U.S. report.
Pincus, an Atlanta native, later moved to New Orleans together with his household. His mother and father — Bernard, a division retailer service provider and Amelia, a homemaker — have been avid music lovers.
His profession in journalism adopted commencement from Dartmouth School with a level in music and repair for the U.S. Military in Germany through the Korean Warfare period. After studying the ropes at New Jersey papers, he was employed at The Eagle in 1967 as a prime editor, accountable for the entrance web page and for dealing with worldwide and nationwide information.
‘A LITTLE NEW YORK TIMES’
When he began, Pincus recalled, Eagle proprietor and writer Lawrence Okay. “Pete” Miller gave him bold marching orders: “I would like you to show this paper into ‘slightly New York Occasions.’”
It didn’t take lengthy. In 1973, editorial web page editor Roger Linscott gained a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, the 12 months after media critic Ben Bagdikian cited solely three nice newspapers in a Time Journal article: The New York Occasions, Le Monde of Paris and The Berkshire Eagle.
Eighteen years after his arrival at The Eagle, Pincus determined to go freelance, devoting himself to classical music, but additionally writing essays on life within the Berkshires and three books. In 1983 and 1987, he gained the celebrated ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music criticism.
“Andy’s love of Tanglewood — its traditions, its lore — is palpable,” mentioned Tony Fogg, the BSO’s vp of creative planning who joined the orchestra’s administration in 1994. “Through the years, he’s seen and chronicled every little thing concerning the pageant: the shifting emphases and tastes of three completely different music administrators, the morphing of assorted academic and coaching applications, the expansion of the campus, the large celebrations, the comings-and-goings of main personalities.
“By means of all of this, he’s remained true to a set of standards that at all times places absolute musical values on the core, no matter fads or fashions or industrial enchantment,” Fogg mentioned. “One didn’t at all times agree unreservedly together with his viewpoint, however one at all times revered his conviction and the honesty of his responses.”
Pincus additionally lined the low season native musical scene, together with the well-regarded Berkshire Symphony student-faculty orchestra based mostly at Williams School.
Ronald Feldman, music director of the orchestra, artist-in-residence on the Williams music division and a cellist within the Boston Symphony from 1967 (when he was 19) to 2001, mentioned that “critics should depend on private preferences, earlier performances, recordings and tutorial analysis to judge a efficiency.”
“How are you going to precisely examine a efficiency by a neighborhood ensemble with one from a longtime skilled ensemble? Andy understood how you can stroll this superb line,” he continued. “Whether or not you have been the Boston Symphony or the Berkshire Symphony, he was cautious to make honest judgments. His information of up to date music was at all times well-researched.”
In Feldman’s view, “Andy at all times had one thing attention-grabbing to say, generally accompanied by a barely darker remark that gave one pause for thought. I did not alway agree together with his critiques however I at all times discovered a lot to be taught from his feedback. I at all times seemed ahead to studying his critiques. I want him nicely.”
Jeffrey Borak, The Eagle’s theater critic and former arts and leisure editor, labored carefully with Pincus till 2021.
“It was a privilege within the fullest sense of that phrase to work with Andy over the 30-plus years that I used to be The Eagle’s arts editor,” mentioned Borak. “Once I got here right here in April 1986, he taught me a number of the ropes based mostly on his personal coaching and expertise as an editor. What impressed me essentially the most working with him was the information he delivered to his craft; the magnificence of his writing, which is at all times concerning the music, by no means about him. His work ethic is of the best customary. He’s robust, uncompromising, an expert’s skilled.”
Excerpts from The Eagle’s latest interview with Pincus observe, frivolously edited for size:
Q: How and when did you first uncover your affinity for music?
A: One evening, once I was 6 or 7, I used to be in mattress, supposedly asleep, once I heard my mother and father taking part in what I discovered was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on the phonograph. The response was so lasting, so everlasting, it simply stayed with me, so each time music got here on, I listened.
Q: Did you are taking up an instrument?
A: I did. Clarinet in elementary college. At Dartmouth, I took concept, concord, orchestration. I had a obscure concept of changing into a conductor; I’d placed on a recording and follow in entrance of a mirror. At New England Music Camp close to Waterville, Maine, my mentor who carried out the student-faculty orchestra acknowledged I had no talent or expertise in any respect. Then I used to be drafted into the Military, posted in Germany as an infantryman however grew to become a clerk-typist and in addition the corporate’s “troop data and schooling officer.”
Q: The place did you first meet your accomplice Kate?
A: All of it started on the summer season camp, the place she was a flutist and librarian. Kate came to visit to Germany and we have been married there. An old style romance is what it was, with a typical curiosity in music. [Kate, a professional hand-weaver and longtime owner of the Weaver’s Fancy shop in downtown Lenox, died in May 2019].
Q: After two years within the Military, what got here subsequent?
A: I received a grasp’s diploma within the English division at Rutgers and did many of the coursework for a Ph.D. aiming to change into an English professor. However I didn’t like the tutorial life, a lot combating over so little. So I walked throughout the road to the New Jersey Press Affiliation workplace, and received a job on the Netcong-Stanhope Information, a tiny weekly, the place I used to be editor, reporter, advert salesman and deliverer. That’s the place I received my primary coaching in journalism, studying to do every little thing. Then, a giant step as much as the Newark Night Information as a reporter for 3 years.
Q: How did you occur to reach at The Eagle in 1967?
A: I used to be on a really massive weekly in Somerville, N.J. However after three years, the editor wasn’t retiring and the paper wasn’t going each day. It was a lifeless finish. So I walked throughout the road to the library and noticed an advert for an editor job at The Berkshire Eagle. Three weeks later, I used to be residing in Richmond and dealing at The Eagle because the web page one editor, a very vital job.
Q: When have been you tapped to succeed Jay Rosenfeld as classical critic?
A: I by no means considered being a music critic. However after eight years at The Eagle, I assumed perhaps it might be enjoyable to do one thing else however not full-time, simply one thing else in my life to get again into music. It was Milton Bass [then the arts and entertainment editor] who received me the job. My first BSO Tanglewood live performance was in the summertime of 1975. After one in every of my first critiques, which was a pan, a BSO member tapped me on the shoulder, advised me I had written a nasty evaluate, after which mentioned, “Do it once more.” That’s once I discovered to be as trustworthy as I can, be respectful, don’t exit to harm individuals, but when it’s unhealthy, say it’s unhealthy, in good language, however don’t sugarcoat it. That was an ideal lesson.
Q: How have audiences modified over time, if they’ve?
A: I feel they continue to be pretty secure in dimension, style and degree of schooling. We now have a very good native viewers for low season live shows. At Tanglewood, the programming isn’t just previous chestnuts, however shorter items so if you happen to don’t like one, there are three extra.
Q: What tendencies do you anticipate?
A: It appears like there’s a rise in Pops and Pops-style applications, it’s not overwhelming the classical stuff but it surely’s starting to be the camel with its head underneath the tent. Pops is a legit a part of the BSO, so I’d anticipate much more of that.
Q: Trying again, how would you sum up the position of a critic?
A: To me, a critic is an educator within the broadest sense of the time period, utilizing his or her information and expertise to light up music for others. A beauty of classical music and opera is that you could at all times go deeper. Agree or disagree, a very good critic enriches your listening and your life.