Salzburg Journal, Part II

Outside the Haus für Mozart in Salzburg.


Editor’s Note: Our senior editor Jay Nordlinger spent the middle two weeks of August at the Salzburg Festival: hosting a public-interview series, giving a lecture, and covering performances. The music coverage will appear in forthcoming issues of National Review and The New Criterion. For Part I of this online journal, go here.

I attend a funeral, in the rain. The rain seems appropriate. The graveyard is just outside town — outside Salzburg — and it is the Jewish one. It was desecrated during the war, and Holocaust.

I look at the gravestones. One of them is for a person named Himelfarb. Is there an “m” missing? One is for a woman named Führer. Yes, Führer: Leader.

Being in this cemetery, looking at these stones, thinking about the desecration — which I’ve read about beforehand — makes me hate, and I mean hate, the enemies of Israel. Especially the European ones.

I could elaborate, but let me move on . . .

Speaking at the funeral is a man named Marko Feingold. He is sharp, and you might say dashing. He seems to be a spry gent of about, oh, 78. Maybe 82. A very good 82.

Later, someone tells me he’s 100. I don’t believe it (frankly). Or I think my informant and I are thinking of two different men. Still later, I have it confirmed: The spry gent is 100.

He walks briskly. He speaks crisply. He has a nearly full head of hair — much of it dark. Doesn’t look dyed, either.

Mr. Feingold, it transpires, is a Holocaust survivor. He survived Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau, and Buchenwald (in that order). He has said, “I could write a Michelin guide to the camps.” For the past 68 years, he has spent much of his time going to schools and other institutions, telling people about the Holocaust.

Some days after the funeral, I interview him. That piece will appear in the next National Review.

The funeral is for my friend Donald Kahn — an extraordinary man. Singular. Not from a cookie cutter. Very smart, broadly and deeply informed, complicated, fun. He was a great friend of The New Criterion — friend and benefactor. He was a friend of NR, too.

He came on one of our cruises — the Danube, I think. He was infirm, but he kept up a brave front. He fell, horribly — messed up his face. He went to the hospital and carried on, with the rest of the cruise. Entirely stoic, uncomplaining.

What else to say about him? Lots. But I think I’ll just relate a few facts.

He was an Annenberg: the son of one of the Annenberg daughters (Janet), the nephew of Walter. Years ago, when Donald was young, Thornton Wilder made a pass at him. I always got kind of a kick out of that.

He went to Columbia, where one of his teachers was Douglas Moore — the composer of The Ballad of Baby Doe. Donald knew a lot about classical music. He knew a lot about Broadway, too. I think he knew every song.

“My uncle dated Ethel Merman,” he told me once.

Donald had a lot of money, and he gave a lot of it away. He mainly gave to the arts, I think. More than once, on public occasions, I referred to him as “an Esterházy for our time.”

He was very, very generous to Salzburg, where he finally settled. He basically built the Haus für Mozart, I’m told. A bust of him stands amid the festival halls. He gave to hospitals and universities. He spruced up the Jewish cemetery, I think. He paid for the restoration of a dome.

Oh — and he bought a Stradivarius for the use of Benjamin Schmid, a Salzburg violinist. Donald named it after his wife, Jeanne Kahn: “Lady Jeanne,” the instrument is called.


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