Sunday, September 29, 2013

* Stokowski at 90 conducts The London Symphony Orchestra

The Secret

One of the great experiences of my life was watching Leopold Stokowski rehearse the Ithaca College Choir for a concert in Carnegie Hall.

He had come to campus and the rehearsal was open to the public. Few attended.  I was one. He was 87 at the time. 

He had to be driven from New York to Ithaca because Stokowski refused to fly.  Even when conducting in London, he took other means---an ocean liner ---to go across.


Softly he walked on stage, wearing a striped suit, polkadot ascot and checkered shirt, as if  he had been dressed by Stravinski's fiirebird himself,  his face ablast with the blotches of age, his hair a dandelion puff, his gate a measured shuffle------  almost as if he was wearing slippers.

At one point the choir was a bit off, and he clapped them softly to attention, saying words which still resonate in my head;

You must learn to concentrate; it is the secret to everything.


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