Back from North Korea

Friday, February 29, 2008

Lorin Maazel, the music director of the New York Philharmonic, and John Schaefer , the host of WNYC's Sound Check and New Sounds, talk about the New York Philharmonic's trip to North Korea.
If you can't see the video click here


Lorin Maazel and John Schaefer

Comments [31]

James from New York

I am wondering....the concert was on the radio & TV in real time? i.e. 8:00 PM Pyongyang time? Does anyone have electricity there after dark? (Apparently they don't) If not, how did they see or hear anything on TV or radio??

Mar. 01 2008 02:12 AM
John from Upstate NY

You simply have to start somewhere.

Feb. 29 2008 10:49 PM
James from New York

#15 above...Nick, according to reporting on PBS Newshour w/Jim Lehrer (no relation to our host here) the audience was about 1/3 composed of the foreign diplomatic corps. The remaining 2/3rds was not picked by the state - it WAS the state. To anyone with even a modest understanding of what life is like in North Korea, the idea that the Dear Leader would allow anyone outside of his closest inner circle to attend such an event is ludicrous almost beyond imagining.

Feb. 29 2008 08:57 PM
Gene from NYC

I was trying to look at the people of the orchestra through the eyes of the audience, an audience getting its first peek at what America really looks like.

I was pleased to see young, old, women, asians.

But --and correct me if I'm wrong-- I saw zero people of color--black, indian, anything.

Feb. 29 2008 02:07 PM
John from Upstate NY

History will judge this event very kindly! However, the criticisms & concerns are valid. But what is the alternative?

If you point your finger in judgement, what else do you offer?

Feb. 29 2008 11:50 AM
Seth from Astoria

Yes, RP, on another "NOTE", we share hope.

Feb. 29 2008 11:47 AM
Peter from New Haven

I love you guys, but man, you really blew it!

How can you have a conversation about music and politics without mentioning Furtwangler, conductor of the BPO in Hitler's Germany!

I would love to have found out if the maestro drew inspiration or guidance from Furtwangler, and how he might compare his situation (some faith in the power of music to transcend politics) and that of Furtwangler.

Oh well,

Love you guys all the same.

Feb. 29 2008 11:47 AM
John from Upstate NY


I am an athelete, not a musician

Feb. 29 2008 11:46 AM
Seth from Astoria

Foreign Politics aside, Brahms not Bombs by the way, I think it says a lot that MUSIC was a form of Diplomacy. Coming from a country where the arts are being suppressed, going to a country where the people are being suppressed, the Philharmonic did their service to their country in the same way a soldier would. They used their abilities to promote peace.

Possibly the current dictator is laughing because he earned money Smidley, who knows, but maybe in that audience is a future leader, or a parent of a future leader, who will relate the feelings they had toward the US to A good relationship in the long run.

Every step is an advance, no matter how big or small.

Feb. 29 2008 11:44 AM
rp from manhattan

I know this event was not about New York, but I have seldom felt prouder of my city than I felt while watching this superb artistic gift to the world that New York has made.

On another note, I can't imagine that this event can be seen as making the North Korean dictator one iota stronger than he is. On the other hand, those who were exposed to the event might have had their perspectives changed if only slightly. How could it hurt?

And by the way, who were all those westerners in the audience?

Feb. 29 2008 11:42 AM
Joan Rosenfelt from New York

I thought the concert was gorgeous and very moving. I especially want to let the Maestro know that we used to sing the Arrirang song at camp (Girl Scout Camp Weetamoe in Center Ossipee, NH - 1955). I've always loved that song and so it was a special, touching pleasure to hear the orchestrated version - and so beautifully, delicately played - just lovely.
It must have been incredibly moving to the Korean audience - and what better way to move political thoughts than through moving hearts?
Joan Rosenfelt
New York

Feb. 29 2008 11:40 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Oops, I didn't realize Mr. Maazel's history & his experience w/the Soviet regime! I bet he could comment on the Ashkenazy concert in relation to the Philharmonic's too.

Feb. 29 2008 11:39 AM

who has more human rights abuses then CHINA. Wait have we decided to boycott the Olympics.

Feb. 29 2008 11:36 AM
yj from new york

100% agree with John #9. A little something is better than nothing.

Feb. 29 2008 11:35 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The concert in Pyongyang makes me think of the concert Vladimir Ashkenazy played in the Soviet Union when he was finally allowed to go back. (I don't think it was back to being Russia at that point, but glasnost may have been under way--maybe Mr. Schaefer could comment on the parallels.)

Feb. 29 2008 11:34 AM

Here's a book that you all might enjoy reading:

The Private Life of Chaiman Mao, by Zhisui Li (Mao's Personal Doctor)

Feb. 29 2008 11:28 AM
Nick Patterson from NYC

A question I haven't heard answered - who attended this concert? Was the audience chosen by the state? Was it open, or semi-open? This is important I think in gauging all the coverage of the audience reactions....thanks, /Nick

Feb. 29 2008 11:28 AM

Well, Maazel's moral equivalence between US Guantanamo and N. Korea's government, and his excuses for N. Korea make him sound like the typical good-hearted, sucker American -- a genus known in the third world as "The Big Duck." Trust me, some of N. Korea's leaders are having a laugh at you and counting their money -- though I am delighted and proud you went.

It's one thing for an NYU chump to talk like that but you have been around after all.

Feb. 29 2008 11:26 AM

listening to Mr. Massel interview invokes hope for world peace and puts into focus the true desire of the north and south korean people to be unified and be recognized as one country.

Feb. 29 2008 11:24 AM
Daniel from NYC

Congratulations on the Maestro's stance. Our country has lost moral high ground the minute Abu Graib and Gitmo happened.

Feb. 29 2008 11:21 AM
gabby from new york

I was surprised how wonderful the North Korean national anthem sounds. How much artistic interpretation did the Maestro and musician put into it? Was there any limitation on what they could or could not do to the piece?

Feb. 29 2008 11:18 AM

So you are the first Western orchestra to play there?

Feb. 29 2008 11:10 AM
John from Upstate NY

As one of the 1st Americans to travel to north Korea, 3x, I share concerns that have been posted. However, what is the alternative? I salute the NY Philharmonic! I was also proud to be part of an effort that hosted their National Taekwon-Do Team on a very successful 5 city tour of the USA last fall (2007).

These are just steps to help them see we are not as they are told.

Feb. 29 2008 11:06 AM

Different show Jimmy -- that's on BUSH.

Feb. 29 2008 10:32 AM
Iraq and Vietnam

Mr. Bob:

To your question, may we answer: Bach?

Feb. 29 2008 10:31 AM
Jimmy the K from Bklyn

When these rogue pig nations start getting their hands on fissile material, the jig is up.

Feb. 29 2008 10:28 AM
Bob from Bronx

How about instead of a trip where we play classical music for psychopathic dictators who purposely starve their populace, how about instead we flatten the place, pave it, re unite it with the other half of the country and install a democracy? I think that will be a little more persuasive than Bach.

Feb. 29 2008 10:26 AM
Chestine from Westchester

THat's right Michael you show that regime! You deprive them of classical music! You go boy!

Feb. 29 2008 10:25 AM

Michael, re your second paragraph, what were you expecting from a group of musicians exactly?

Political negotiation with another sovereign nation is the responsibility of the Executive Branch of the US government.

While I recognize the present administration is rather weak, I do believe that such vested power would at least have to transfer from President to Vice President, then Speaker of the House, prior to landing squarely on the shoulders of the New York Philharmonic.

Feb. 29 2008 10:14 AM
Chris O from New York

The trip, the reception, the event was really moving and beautiful. It represents the best of America when our posture in the world these last 7 years has generally been to show our worst.

Feb. 29 2008 10:13 AM
michael winslow from INWOOD

New York Philharmonic never should have gone to North Korea. This regime needs to know there are consequences for treating their people the way they do.

All the Philharmonic did was to give a dictator a nice concert.

Would you do a concert for Hitler? Castro? Lenin? Sadam?

Of course not.

Feb. 29 2008 10:03 AM

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