The Passing of John McGlinn
As I'm writing this, seven minutes ago Michael Jackson—who was (and may still be) a mesmerizing musical talent—announced a series of appearances in London, and perhaps around the world. I say good luck to him.
I simply cannot look at Michael Jackson. Too much deeply intimate stuff about him has been shoved down my gullet by the media: his admitted proclivity for sleeping with young boys, the photograph of him dangling a baby out a hotel window, the apparently botched surgery that disfigured his elegant face, the child’s fantasy world of Neverland Ranch, the lurid court cases and the endless speculation about his health. All these weird associations run through my head at the mention of his name. I would never pay money to see him perform, and I switch channels the instant he appears on TV.
This is the era of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, texting, “sexting” (sending salacious self-portraits over the Internet and cell phones), blogs and memoirs where tens of millions of us glory in “letting it all hang out.” As a March 5 headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed: “Stars Micro-Blog Their Lives on Twitter.”
Somehow we feel it's our God-given right to know everything about everybody—Britney, Lindsay, Alec, Tom and Katie, Monica and Bill, Octo-Mom ...
So why am I deeply saddened by the death of a little-known, young musicologist, researcher and conductor whom I never met and about whom I knew absolutely nothing?
His life’s work touched many deeply.
John McGlinn, 1953-2009
I was startled to see my old sparring partner John McGlinn turn up in the obituaries column last week. He was only 55, and died in Manhattan apparently of a heart attack. He was a marvelous conductor who loved opera and was beloved by opera singers, and could have had a good career, up to his neck in Wagner and Verdi. But he loved musicals — or, more precisely, musical comedies. A lot of the highbrow cats dig Sondheim, West Side Story, Carousel, Porgy And Bess. But John McGlinn was a great musician who loved the frothy stuff, the ditsy musical comedy scores of the teens and twenties, and he believed not in the cut-'n'-paste approach of current revivals — kick out this song, replace it with that one — but rather that as much as there was a version of Don Giovanni chiseled in stone, so too there were "authentic" versions of 90-year old Broadway shows with the original songs in the original orchestrations with original dialogue over original underscoring, and all in the right order.
—Mark Steyn, “The Land Where the Good Songs Go,” Feb. 27, 2009