The Musicians’ Voice

Volume 116, No. 11November, 2016

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.


In the September issue of Allegro, Local 802 endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. As a dues-paying member since 1967, and a registered Republican, I find this out of order and a one-sided opinion. The musicians’ union has a right to its opinion. However, by not offering an opposing view supporting Donald J. Trump, it is biased. Voters should have both sides presented to them and make their own decision. Last time, Local 802 endorsed President Obama and it is clear his policies have failed the American people. For example, look at the Affordable Care Act, which forces people to purchase insurance! Manufacturers have left America, along with jobs. If you don’t have a job, how can you afford health insurance? Trump plans to bring jobs back. Hillary, on the other hand, plans to shut down coal mines, leaving thousands of unemployed workers! It’s true that Trump has said many insulting things. However, he does this in order to get free publicity. Trump also has been called a racist. This is not true and a lie to discredit him. Hillary has a lot of baggage and in my opinion is not qualified to be president of the United States. Too many lies and memory losses. There are many things wrong with Hillary Clinton and her past. However, I feel that it would be a waste of time to mention it here. My main point is that a few Local 802 officials endorse Hillary Clinton. These people do not represent me. I am sure there are also members who agree with me in voting for Donald Trump. Your magazine, as far as I see it, is propaganda for Democrats. I tested out my new shredder and had the honor to insert the September copy of Allegro, expressing my anger over your one-sided trash magazine.

–Stuart H. Tresser

Hillary has no business running for president. She continues to lie to all of us and feels that she is “entitled” – not like the rest of us. Politicians should remember they work for the people – but it seems like they want us to work to keep them happy. My vote is for Trump. I believe he can clean up Washington.

–Doug Mendocha

frederick-vogelgesangA TRIBUTE TO VOGELGESANG

Allow me to reminisce about Fredrick Vogelgesang: a true hero, a violin genius, a prodigy. He was a member of Local 802 for 63 years, from 1947 until his death in 2010 at the age of 89. He had been a student at Curtis, where he studied with the school’s director, Efrem Zimbalist, the great violinist. (Later, he served as Zimbalist’s assistant.) Vogelgesang could do anything. He was a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. On a moment’s notice he could conduct a show at Radio City Music Hall. He assembled a recording and played all parts of the Brahms horn trio. Unheard of! Each part so brilliantly played. Consider another recording he made of the Halvorsen “Passacaglia” for violin and viola. Superb playing, reaching to the heavens. The true mark of an artist. He was an unsung role model and renaissance man. I had the pleasure of speaking to him a decade ago with his lovely wife.Vogelgesang was a man of modest demeanor. He was immune to compliments about his genius. Perhaps humility is a cornerstone of greatness; perhaps humility preserves the true dignity of art. Sadly he is no longer with us, yet for those who seek his essence on recordings and discover the master’s mark, it may just be a true lesson in what is really important. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you will have the power.”

–Eric Shumsky


Bob Haley’s response to Jay Berliner in Allegro’s October issue ignores the underlying facts I wrote about in an AFM history article for the Members Party newsletter:

Petrillo’s first ban on phono and broadcast transcription recording came in 1942, lasting two years during WW II, and resulting in the creation of the Recording and Transcription Fund, used to provide free concerts across the nation. Petrillo’s second recording ban began and ended in 1948, in part, with renaming the fund Music Performance Trust Fund and enlarging its scope. Soon, broadcasters, film companies, jingle houses and the record companies were paying a fee on every date into this fund while Petrillo was diverting years of negotiated raises in musicians’ recording pay scales into it, as well. It is known today as the MPTF.

After three years of vain attempts at reasoning with Petrillo over the lack of raises, royalties, pension and health benefits, and with the knowledge that some of the MPTF money was being siphoned off into a private pension fund for top AFM officers, a group of Local 47 musicians, led in 1958 by Local 47 vice president and trumpeter Cecil Read, voted to leave the AFM during a film industry strike called by Petrillo and to form the Musicians Guild of America. The Guild settled the 20-week strike and won a contract guaranteeing one live session for every 13-week TV series for the first time. The contract also relieved the film and TV industry of the onerous fund payments.

It was left to Petrillo’s successor Herman Kenin to clean up his mess. In a 1961 letter to the Guild, he promised to take all Guild member back into the AFM without penalty, and to negotiate for residuals and royalties, health and pension in all future media contracts. Further, he established the Los Angeles Musicians Advisory Committee – LARMAC – to advise the AFM and attend all media negotiations. LARMAC was the forerunner of today’s RMA International.

Today, Petrillo’s actions would’ve come under a Landrum-Griffin action with possible removal and jail time for financial malfeasance.

–Michael Comins