June 16, 2021

Showstoppers– Stunning Photos of Fall and Notes on Music and Ballet

A New Hampshire scene in fall (Molly Powell)

That picture up there is by National Review’s own Molly Powell. It shows a New Hampshire scene. At the bottom of this post is an Ohio scene, taken by another friend. Two stunners, two showstoppers — as is fall.

These pictures anchor my Impromptus column today. I’m not sure “anchor” is the word, but they appear at the end. The column starts with an interesting, strange topic: presidential ex-wives. I mean Jane, Ivana, and Marla. I make some particular points about Jane.

One of my topics is TV theme songs, and TV themes, wordless: such as “The Streetbeater,” by Quincy Jones, used as the theme to the immortal sitcom Sanford and Son. Someone was saying the other day that the Sanford theme is king of them all. Do you have a favorite, or favorites? I intend to do a piece on this subject. Send your nominations, if you like, to jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

Speaking of music, a reader sent me a letter that William F. Buckley Jr. wrote him almost 50 years ago. (The reader sent a photocopy.) “Dictated in Switzerland,” it says at the top, and “Transcribed in New York.” The date is February 29, 1972.

Do you know a personage who was born on Leap Day? I can think of just one: the composer Rossini (since we are talking about music).

In his letter to to Paul Zisserson of Cranston, R.I., WFB writes,

Dear Mr. Zisserson:

Believe me, I’m not intending to slight Mozart. He was a great genius, and I worship at his shrine quite regularly. He simply isn’t Number One. That’s Bach.

Yours cordially . . .

Them’s fightin’ words (but fun ones, too).

A couple of weeks ago, I had a post that touched on the old issue of recordings versus live. Sergiu Celibidache, the great conductor, remarked, “Listening to a recording is like kissing a photograph of Brigitte Bardot.” (He likely did not say “kissing,” but posterity is being polite.)

A reader writes,

Dear Jay,

A running point of contention throughout our 29-year marriage has been the volume on the stereo when I listen to Mahler. The wife says, “It’s too loud, turn it down!” I say, “It needs to be loud enough so that I can hear the soft parts.”

Several years ago, a friend was playing a part in Mahler 5 with the Israel Philharmonic and comped us tickets. After the performance, my wife said, “Wow, I could hear the soft parts.” . . .

I love the Celibidache quote.

In an Impromptus, I quoted a news article, headed “Wave of ‘Nutcracker’ cancellations hits dance companies hard.” I observed that “ballet companies depend on Nutcracker sales, for everything else they do.”

A reader writes,

My wife and I were, briefly, professional ballet dancers. She transitioned to teaching. It’s been 35 years now. For many years, she did not do The Nutcracker in December, leaving it to everyone else. Instead, she did a “Winter Concert” in mid-to-late January — Cinderella, Coppélia, Snow White, The Snow Queen . . .

But this year, with everything topsy-turvy, she is doing The Nutcracker. It will be a stripped-down version, only an hour. And it will be performed outdoors (in Georgia), in a field. And everyone is tremendously excited! Irony.

Again, today’s Impromptus is here. And here is that Ohio showstopper:

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