Russell Steinberg
composer, conductor of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra

On Alan Rich:

There were many composers Alan did not like. Chief among these was probably Richard Strauss. Alan met me initially as the author of the Voyager CD-ROM Richard Strauss; Three Tone Poems, so our relationship was doomed from the outset. What charitable effort it must have taken on Alan’s part then to invite me to his home specifically to view a video interview of Glenn Gould—whom he did adore—waxing on about Strauss’s genius. I remember though that we both marveled at one point where as a spontaneous attempt to answer a question, Gould plays practically the entire gargantuan Heldenleben tone poem on the piano from memory. Alan’s LA Weekly column dazzled not only with the sheer number of concerts he reported, but because it made clear that classical music mattered. He showed it was absolutely relevant today both despite and because of all the clatter that surrounds us. I always tried to keep that in mind when reading his diatribes against various composers—not just my living friends, but somewhat well known and admired figures from past— say, Johannes Brahms for instance! With Alan, it was a lot more fun talking about things he did like. A favorite time was when I had just finished teaching a UCLA class on Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Alan asked if I had heard the Danish tenor Aksel Schiotz. He ushered me up the stairs to his studio where, not far from shelves lined with many thousands of CDs, we listened quietly for the next half hour to the entire Dichterliebe sung exquisitely by this hero of Alan’s. For music he did admire, his love was unbounded and pure. I am so thankful for his reviews to the many concerts I couldn’t attend as well as his “two cents” on those I did. He gave us the larger picture of our classical music scene here in Southern California and helped us to realize that we are really living in a special time artistically. That is as important to those of us who compose and perform as well as those who listen. The dastardly demise of his column from the LA Weekly still feels like a fresh wound years later. I noticed it didn’t stop Alan from schlepping all over LA to continue to attend concerts and write about them these last few years.