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Monday, February 8, 2010


Where there's tons of money, you can usually find greed, corruption, embezzlement, and fraud.

If this sounds like the subject matter of grand opera, your right.

The European press is buzzing with shocking tales of intrigue, secret foreign bank accounts, and attempted suicide. The news revolves around the world-renown music festival in Salzburg founded in 1967 by the legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan.

Allegedly, the Directors of the Salzburg Easter Festival have created a complex Ponzi scheme utilizing shell companies and a network of intertwined International bank accounts. They are said to have enlisted family members to launder embezzled funds. In addition, their travel expenses have been heavily padded, and now politicians are wondering where all of the generous funds collected from corporate sponsors has gone.

I have ranted about this mindset before in my blog. The classical music biz is big business. I've gone so far as to coin the term "Music Industrial Complex" to describe it.

Apparently, the music industrial complex has an Enron situation on it's hands. I'm not surprised. When greedy businessmen see an opportunity to skim 2.5 million Euros (over $3 million dollars) from the budget of a profitable music festival without getting caught, their temptation is proportionally Wagneresque.

We'll have to wait and see if the fat lady sings as this story develops, but my advice would be to support your locally grown artists, musicians, and composers. Making an investment in the culture and art of your neighborhood is less likely to end up in the pockets of some not-for-profit administrator wearing a $3,000 Armani suit.