For the past five years, the New York Times Magazine has offered an end-of-year feature called The Music They Made — an audio collage of musicians who died that year. Lisa Hirsch was, I think, the first to notice that the magazine has a thing against classical music; with the exception of David Mason, the trumpeter who played on "Penny Lane," no Western classical musician has appeared in these compilations. The omission is particularly maddening this year, since we lost two gigantic figures: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elliott Carter. Almost every other genre has been represented at one time or another, including avant-garde jazz (in the person of Rashied Ali). If the feature were labeled "non-classical music," that would at least be honest. But the editors seem reluctant to admit their bias, which extends also to print: you won't find Fischer-Dieskau or Carter — born in this city in 1908, astoundingly active until the very end — in the 2012 "The Lives They Lived" issue. This annual insult to people who love classical music deserves a protest. Here is contact information for the Times; those who are active on Twitter can mention @NYTmag.
Update: Hugo Lindgren, the editor of the Times Magazine, cordially replied to me on Twitter, explaining that classical music "lends itself less well to the montage approach" but adding that the feature "wouldn't suffer for being broader."
Further update: NPR shows that it can be done.
One more update: Wm. Ferguson, the editor of the collage, has replied on the Times Magazine blog. I'm grateful for his kind words about my work, but his answer is weak. He chooses to concentrate on Carter, although you'll notice that I put Fischer-Dieskau's name first. The criterion for inclusion, he says, is that "these are artists who have affected popular culture," who are "mainstream." I'll accept that argument in the case of Carter, although Phil Lesh may not. And what about Rashied Ali? Was he "mainstream"? I will not accept that argument in the case of Fischer-Dieskau. The man has sold more than ten million records. The songs he sang are indeed "part of the popular soundscape," and will stay there long after we're all gone.