Barbara Isenberg

Journalist and author

Award-winning journalist and author Barbara Isenberg has been interviewing prominent artists in print and onstage for more than three decades. Reporting from Los Angeles, New York, London and elsewhere, she was the chief arts writer for the Los Angeles Times and continues to be a freelance contributor to that newspaper. A former staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she has also published articles in such publications as Time, Esquire,The Huffington Post, Talk, The Nation, Ms. and London’s Sunday Times. Her newest book is the Los Angeles Times best-seller Tradition!: The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway to Hollywood story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World’s Most Beloved Musical, a book which Fiddler on the Roof’s producer Harold Prince called “definitive. I can’t imagine anyone covering the subject more fascinatingly or eloquently.” Her earlier books include Conversations with Frank Gehry, also a Los Angeles Times best-seller, which the Library Journal called “a gold mine for scholars and the general public,” State of the Arts: California Artists Talk About Their Work , which Time Magazine praised for how its interviews “of such people as Dave Brubeck, Joan Didion, Randy Newman and David Hockney plumb the qualities of the Golden State,” and “Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical, about which Show Music magazine said, “Anyone with an interest in how a musical is conceived, what happens to it during its tryout period, and why it ultimately succeeds or fails, will relish this insider’s look.” She has received many honors for her writing over the years, including a Distinguished Artist Award from the Los Angeles Music Center and first prize in entertainment reporting from the Los Angeles Press Club. Former Associate Director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California, she has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute. She created and hosted the Getty Center’s popular Art Matters public conversations, the Skirball Cultural Center’s Spotlight interview series and UCLA Extension’s Evenings Out with the Critics program. From 1983 through 2014, she regularly hosted British Theater Backstage with Barbara Isenberg, a London-based theater program.

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