I thought "Mozart in the Jungle" was a fine read, and I commend oboist Ms. Tindall for having had the courage to name names and tell true stories from the ultra-competitive US classical music performance front, even at her own expense. Her tender yet tortured relationship with the distinguished collaborative pianist Sam Sanders (whose demise is recounted in moving detail) is one of the bright spots in a sordid coming-of-age memoir.
Kreisler's dates, I might observe, are rather off: Blair Tindall was writing about her years as a Manhattan School student and then busy NY freelance woodwind player during the 1980s and 1990s. She made her NY recital debut in 1991, and left NYC in 1999 to attend journalism grad school at Stanford, in a bid to switch careers from music to writing. I believe she straddles both fields nowadays.
She's a fluent journalist, good with facts, and can tell a story. The sex and drugs vignettes abound and are sometimes fun, but the abuses of power and sexual harassment related on the part of music profs and conductors are as deeply disturbing as they are familiar.
I would make this book required reading for any conservatory career-advice course.
I agree with this. The book has some problems, but her main point, which you still don't see or hear anyone making so succinctly, is that the way classical music is funded is not supportable and that the way students are trained in conservatories is often very poor. As for the social stuff, I am about her age, and most of what she described sounded very, very familiar to me, even though I didn't get invited to those parties either! But I saw students with inappropriate relationships with teachers, lots of drinking/drugs, lots of politics influencing who got the good recommendations and gigs.
My husband, who is not a musician, also read the book, and he said he finally understood what I had been telling him about the classical music scene.
You can blame the messenger (as many have done), and she indeed seems to have some serious problems of her own that continue today (yes, she was seriously molested by older male teachers beginning when she was a teenager, but what was the cause and what was the effect?), but the message has some real value.
As for her relationship with Sam Sanders, she mentions that she worked with his family on the parts of the book relating to him and had their permission to publish that material. As for the other people she named -- I am guessing that the stories were all true because if they weren't, those people could have gone after her in some legal manner, and they did not. Some of them grumbled about it in Amazon.com reviews and probably elsewhere, but the book was published and is still selling, apparently.