The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CIII, No. 6June, 2003


To the Editor:

This letter refers to the passing of Julius Levine (see “Requiem” in this issue).

I was a bass student of Julius starting in 1976 at Stony Brook. Every chamber group wanted him as a coach. I know this, because for three years, I was his chamber music coordinator as well as his bass student.

I kept a log of many of the things he told me. He said:

“Everything that lives is in a process of change, and we must consider music as something living if we are to have any kind of meaningful relationship with it.”

“The purpose of any form of art is to make the beholder more aware of what life is about, to help him experience deeper levels of awareness of the things around him.”

“Tears are the ultimate point of expressive involvement. No one can cry forever, so we cannot, in art, attempt to be involved at the deepest level at all times. But the direction of our emotional expression should always be toward tears.”

He always told me that there were three essential elements in playing that I should always be aware of: freedom, balance and leverage.

I grieve now and offer my deep condolences to Julius’ family. I believe deep inside that somewhere he’s coaching a really good group, and playing “Per Questa” to Wolfgang himself.

I know no one can cry forever, but right now that seems very possible. He’ll always be a part of me and anyone else he taught, so he’ll never be forgotten.

Because of my association with Julius, I am a better husband to my wife and father to my daughter, as well as a better bassist and musician.

I will love him and miss him always.

–Erik L. Cohen


To the Editor:

I am a professional musician in the New York metropolitan area. My wife is a flight attendant, first with TWA and now American Airlines (AA). AA bought TWA in 2001 and promised fair and equitable treatment of all its work groups.

During the recent Broadway strike and difficult negotiations with the League, I attended a rally where the heads of the other Broadway unions spoke and pledged their solidarity and commitment to our cause. It was a truly empowering experience.

On my way home however, I started to think about the situation my wife and so many other TWA/AA flight attendants were in. I was struck with the way they are being treated and the injustice they have to endure at the hands of their own union.

Former TWA flight attendants have no voice! The union that is in place to protect their rights is the same union responsible for “stapling” them to the bottom of the seniority list. In the airlines everything is based on seniority and when things get tough it’s the people on the bottom of the list that get the ax.

My wife has been a union member in good standing for twenty five years. She now sits with her colleagues on furlough, while AA flight attendants with a couple of years of seniority remain on the payroll. Not finding a reasonable compromise on the issue of blending seniority is just unacceptable, and should be to all union members! The whole idea of being a union member is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

If the situation were reversed, how would APFA feel about having its AA flight attendants treated this unfairly?

Good luck with the TWA law suits!

–Frank Pagano