I am a Jersey City-based journalist, photographer and pianist. My first book, “A Mad Love: An Introduction to Opera,” was published by Basic Books in Sept. 2018. A long-time contributor to the NYT obituaries desk and The Economist’s Culture desk, I also host and produce a podcast called “Parlando: Musical Matters with Vivien Schweitzer.” In 2022 and 2023, I’ve written about music and homelessness for The American Scholar, interviewed an Afghan film director for The Economist, and explored the resurgence of string quartets via a concert in a catacombs.

As a music critic for the New York Times from June 2006 to June 2016, I wrote reviews, profiles and essays about a broad spectrum of classical, opera and world music. Some of my favorite articles include interviews with the composer Annie Gosfield, the pianist Yvgeny Kissin and the mezzo soprano Alice Coote, as well as features about the intersection of politics and music in Istanbul, the resurgence of sacred music in Caucasus Georgia, and an exploration of what makes musicians ‘ready’ to perform emotionally challenging works.

I am a classically trained pianist, have performed at venues including Bargemusic in Brooklyn, and particularly enjoy playing chamber music and collaborating with singers.

I was born in Mumbai, am a dual American and British citizen, and grew up in London and Washington, D.C. Early in my journalistic career I worked as a copy editor and reporter for the Moscow Times in Russia, writing stories about topics including mail order brides and the challenges facing foreign missionaries. I also wrote about Tajikistan for CNN Traveler and New York’s Chinese diaspora for BBC Online and reported on festivals in Mexico and Slovenia.

Volunteering has always been an important part of my life. From 2015-2019 I taught English and Civics at the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans (CIANA)  in Queens, NY, which published this interview about my experience teaching students from around the world. I now teach with We Speak NYC, spend one night a month supervising the overnight shift at Friends Shelter in Manhattan, and am a board member of Art House Astoria, a nonprofit bringing affordable music and arts education to Queens.

  • Book launch at KGB Bar

    Book launch at KGB Bar

  • With my husband, Sarathi, at our wedding in 2019

    With my husband, Sarathi, at our wedding in 2019