Chamber Music Crackdown!


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October 7, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 50

Bach Takes The Rap

The police last Sunday afternoon abruptly brought to an end the highly popular chamber music series at Cafe Figaro, MacDougal and Bleecker Streets. They charged Figaro-proprietor Thomas Ziegler with running a cabaret without a license and halted the Silvermine String Trio in the midst of a piece by Schubert, 15 minutes after the concert began.

Ziegler expressed amazement at the police action and told The Voice that he intends to plead “not guilty” when he goes to court on Friday to answer the charge. “I don’t see how Bach can be evil enough to require a special license,” he said.

Last Sunday’s abortive concert was the 12th in Figaro’s free Sunday chamber music series. According to Ziegler, “no one even has to buy a cup of coffee to sit down and listen.” He said that it costs him from $25 to $50, over and above profits, to put on each concert. The performers are union musicians.

Following the police action the Silvermine Trio adjourned to Peter Cooper Village on the invitation of a member of the audience, who threw open his apartment to the group. The audience included a number of people who had driven down from Connecticut for the concert.

Last summer the police began cracking down on poetry readings in coffee shops, then publically reversed the policy after a few weeks.

Ziegler told The Voice that he will continue the concerts if the present difficulty can be cleared up.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]