Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Little Bit of an Overreaction

While I share many artists' frequent conetmpt for critics, I think that Lee Rosenbaum's words about Jerry Hadley take the matter a bit too far: she maintains that bad reviews were the cause of this singer's recent suicide that's left us all bereft. On one point she is correct, I believe: critics should savage with caution and not relish (Virgil Thomson believed this, though too little practiced what he preached); she is also right at being dismayed at the disproportionate in-print backlash against John Harbison's The Great Gatsby and Mr. Hadley in the title role--it did seem extra (and undeservingly) vehement. But to maintain that this should have been Mr. Hadley's Swann Song where instead, due to the unkind words of the critics, it was his last failure that caused him to desparingly take his own life is a little severe.

True, words can cause injury, but there is a whole history of bad reviews that never caused a suicide. Even among my friends, I've known some rather prominent people who were the butt of some critic's emnity and overzealous bile, and they still walk among us. This of course outlines one of many dillemmas that artists must face: you have to be sensitive enough to be tuned in and therefore excellent, and yet thick skinned enough to suffer the slings and arrows.

I did not know Jerry Hadley, but my guess is that his problems ran deeper than bad notices. My guess is that he was ultimately an unhappy person, a person with problems we will never understand, and it is tragic that these could not be better taken care of. He was in fact more than the sum of his resume, and his decision to take his own life will always remain a sad mystery except to those who knew him well in life. We love him for his records and performances, but we do not know him, and unfortunately never will.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it. I just don't get it. With my very few years of music training, I can tell that while his voice was stellar, there were times that Jerry Hadley let his acting affect the technique.

Why, if singing is your living, would you do that?

11:28 AM  

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