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Hearing Disorder

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To the editors:

Sarah Bryan Miller errs when she allows her bias against modern music to create a misunderstanding about Emanuel Ax's preperformance comments about the Schoenberg Piano Concerto (March 8).

At the February 15 concert under review, Ax, one of today's most generous and self-effacing performers, neither said, nor implied, that "the work has never been appreciated because audiences are full of dullards." Instead, he said that if audiences do not appreciate the work, "perhaps the fault lies with us," and then motioned to himself and his fellow musicians.

The Tribune critic made the same error in his America Online review, although it was corrected by the time the review appeared the next day in the printed paper. It might also be noted that the CSO subscription audience, well versed in cool or polite receptions for 20th-century music, gave this extraordinary performance a rousing ovation and recalled Ax to the stage twice.

Andrew Patner

S. Hyde Park

Sarah Bryan Miller replies:

Andrew Patner errs when he supposes that I have a "bias against modern music," even if we allow that a work half a century old can legitimately be considered "modern." I'm just more critical of it than is fashionable.

I was not attempting to quote Mr. Ax exactly, but to paraphrase what he said as I understood his intention--and his gesture, which included the house. If I misunderstood him, I apologize. I had no quibbles with his performance, which was indeed extraordinary; my "quibbles" are with Schoenberg and his failed 12-tone system.

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