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April 24, 2010

On Missing Alan Rich (1924-2010)

There is going to be a great, big hollowness in the concert hall. Walt Disney Concert Hall, REDCAT, the church where Jacaranda plays in Santa Monica, wherever E.A.R. unit is, in short, wherever music is in Los Angeles. It's going to be harder to listen without Alan Rich, because when he was there - and he was always there - I partially listened through him. He and Mark Swed helped many in L.A. fall in love with listening. Alan's writing is what done it. A colleague of mine at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and at the LA Weekly, he wrote fast; that's because he loved writing as much as he loved listening, which I have to say I envied. "However often my ears are blessed by Schubert's Ninth Symphony, I am stirred every time by new things discovered and an uncontrollable urge to write about them," he wrote. Alan reveled in discovering new things, including new things in old things. He was never too old for any new thing. And, you know, one of the things I will miss most about him is how he would always treat me like a sweet, new young thing and ask me to sit on his lap. 

I'll miss the flirtation. And the reading. And him.

Alan Rich.jpg

April 24, 2010 12:29 PM | | Comments (5)


Very touching tribute from a thoughtful, sensitive writer who appreciated another thoughtful, sensitive writer. Alan Rich will be missed by so many. Still, we can read and re-read his thoughts over and over. His work survives.


Alan's death came as a shock. I'm old enough to believe that one's work (i.e. one's life) will actually be over some day. But when associates leave us, I still lose a few heartbeats.

Alan was my first editor as a dance critic. I didn't really know what I was doing in 1968 when I got hired as a freelance at NY Magazine. Alan saw me through a year and a half of learning. He liked dance (many editors didn't) and respected my stuff. I quit because he couldn't extract enough space to satisfy me---I think he agreed with my impatience at having to cover mainstream dance and there never being enough room for the really exciting stuff that was going on downtown.

After that we moved in different worlds---music/dance, then East Coast/West Coast---and I seldom saw him. But when I did, he greeted me warmly.

Hello, Marcia. How good to hear from you and what a lovely tribute to Alan. I did not know that about him being your editor. He always used to say to me that dance was the one thing he could not imagine writing about. He thought it was impossible. But he knew good writing when he saw it, and he was an ardent supporter of both Elizabeth Zimmer's and me at the Her-Ex. Obviously he had a good start with you. So, thank you for setting on the dance path. My guess is that he preferred music alone without the physical rendering. He liked what music conjured in his imagination. But I never knew really what he was thinking.

I hope to see you soon. I surely miss your voice.

Alan greeted me when I arrived in Los Angeles in 1988, and within days I had bought myself the identical "Estate Gold" Mazda 323 that he was driving, the perfect car—huge inside, tiny outside—for navigating the city's dispersed performing arts scene. His license plate was ALARIC, which I thought was just a clip of his name, but of course was also a reference to the King of the Visigoths, who sacked Rome.

In the months after we both lost our jobs through the Herald Examiner's demise we were constant companions; he'd feed me in his amazing, record-lined house, or at Betty Freeman's, after one of the concerts of new music he arranged there, followed by a pasta supper cooked by her husband. Insofar as I knew anything about contemporary music, or believed in the cultural future of Los Angeles, he was responsible.

I visited him 20 years ago when he had a spell in the hospital, and envied his ability to drop a bunch of weight when it was a matter of life and death. We'd been out of touch for the past decade or so, but I miss him again, already. I look forward to hearing from him on the music of the spheres.....

I met Alan in the late 80s. He was genial and kind, and I think he loved being around young people. I became a regular invitee to his home, where he shared his love of food, music and writing. His parties were always warm and cuddly affairs. I appreciate reading the remembrances written here, because there is so much I didn't know about him. I lost contact for some years when I moved abroad, but reconnected through a mutual friend. Although debilitated by his declining health, he recognized me immediately, as if no time had passed at all. I guess I can say that distance and time never erased our mutually-felt friendship. Alan did indeed live a "rich" life, because he lived with love for the things and subjects and people he loved. He will be lovingly remembered.

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