Classical Discord

For three decades, Mariedi Anders has used Old World grace and negotiating acumen to create significant American careers for serious European musicians. Now, the doyenne of West Coast classical music agents faces a new challenge: the globalization of the

Or, as one rival West Coast agent put it: "There's tenacity, there's perseverance; she's a tough gal. She's been around a long time, because she's tough."

But her hard side is in some ways a manifestation of the emotional bonds she forms with people close to her -- including musicians on her list. She is an emotional person in the Germanic style, loyal to a fault and impatient with people she believes are not.

"I pick artists that are not so proud," she says. "If they give me trouble, I get rid of them."

Some who have been close to her recount a softer side.
Hella Stroeher, who worked as Anders' maid from 1973 to 1981, recalls her former boss as a kind, generous woman who bought her season tickets to the opera and the symphony, and showered her with compliments about her cooking and her gardening.

Sometimes, after concerts, the musicians would come to Anders' for dinner. If it was a chamber ensemble, they might play in the living room until late at night for Anders, her guests, and Hella.

"She's an artist in her character," says Stroeher, who now works as maitre d' at an Indian restaurant in Mountain View. "Every year she would spend three or four months in Europe. She would write to me: 'I'm in DYsseldorf, tomorrow I will be in Moscow.' She was so nice to me. I think so often about how she would buy me gorgeous presents when she went to Europe. She would always bring back something from Harrods for me. She would never forget my birthday, my anniversary. When she went on trips, I would get a postcard from Vienna, from London -- I don't know how she found the time," says Stroeher. "If I had to do it again, I would have never left her."

And that's the same way some of her artists feel.
"She cares like crazy for us," says Robert Spano, conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. "I feel very lucky. She's one of the great managers. She's been with me since before I was a professional."

The cachet Anders has earned in Europe with musicians and conductors during the past 35 years has made her as well-prepared as anyone for the new regime of free trade in classical music. A recent coup: Anders got Spano a date to conduct at the legendary La Scala theater in Milan.

Under the old regime, Spano's European manager would have made the La Scala booking. But Anders convinced Spano to let her take over his European management from the Schmidt agency a year ago.

"I told you about Scala? I would not do that before," she says. "Now, in the artists management business, I'm going to Australia, I'm going to Taiwan, I'm going to Singapore.

"I love it.

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