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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Record Company Exec On Balancing Art And Commerce

Robert Hurwitz will step down as president of Nonesuch Records next year. (Copyright © Jimmy Fontaine)

Robert Hurwitz will step down as president of Nonesuch Records next year. (Copyright © Jimmy Fontaine)

Robert Hurwitz has been compared to a great book editor by classical composer John Adams, and a master craftsman by Stephen Sondheim. He’s stepping down as president of Nonesuch Records (a division of Warner Music Group) next year to become its chairman emeritus.

For this week’s “View From The Top” conversation we hear about his 31 years recording the music of artists of many genres, ranging from the Buena Vista Social Club, Emmy Lou Harris and Pat Metheny, to classical composers and singers.

Hurwitz tells Here & Now’s Robin Young why he thinks he’s successfully balanced art and commerce: “To the people on the corporate side, it’s the notion of spending their money as if it’s your own money. In terms of the artists’ side, it’s respecting their art and their craft.”

Clarification: Nonesuch was the distributor outside of Europe for the Buena Vista Social Club.

Songs In This Segment

  • Buena Vista Social Club, “Chan Chan”
  • Emmylou Harris, “Red Dirt Girl”
  • Henryk Gorecki, Symphony No. 3
  • Steve Reich, “Different Trains”
  • John Adams, Nixon in China
  • Pat Metheny, “Cherish”
  • Audra McDonald, “Stars & The Moon”
  • Adam Guettel’s “How Glory Goes” from his musical “Floyd Collins”
  • Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, singing Bach’s “Ich Habe Genug”


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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