Blair Tindall talks about her new book -- The ''Mozart in the Jungle'' author exposes behind-the-scenes scandals at the New York Philharmonic

By Gilbert Cruz
Updated July 01, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Mozart in the Jungle

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Next time you attend a classical music performance, take a close look at the players on stage. If journalist Blair Tindall is right, some of them could be high, some hungover, and some sleeping with the person one chair over. Tindall, who has played oboe in such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic as well as on Broadway, is in the demystifying business with Mozart in the Jungle (Atlantic Monthly, $24). It’s a hoity-toity version of VH1’s Behind the Music that goes to great lengths to demonstrate that orchestra members participate in, as the subtitle reads, ”Sex, Drugs and Classical Music.” ”People fantasize about life as a classical musician,” says Tindall. ”But we’re just like everybody else.”

Tindall, 45, now a freelance journalist who plays only occasionally for Wicked and Beauty and the Beast, offers a scandalous account of New York musicians in the 1980s, alternately scrimping to afford run-down apartments and reveling in the trickle-down money of the Wall Street boom, wearing the same smelly formal wear to concerts several days in a row and listening to Wagner while snorting coke. While Mozart intersperses memoirish chapters with appraisals of the past and current state of classical music, the emphasis leans toward the sensational. But Tindall denies that her book is mere gossip: ”Boy, if I wanted to tell all, it could have been really nasty.”

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Mozart in the Jungle

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