The Corner


An Instrument of Their Own

William F. Buckley Jr. at his favorite instrument, the harpsichord

WFB would have loved meeting Mahan Esfahani. I have done a Q&A with Esfahani, here. He is one of the leading harpsichordists in the world. He is also sort of an evangelist for his instrument — making the case for it as a going, living concern. WFB was devoted to the harpsichord, all his life. He owned several and played them regularly. He knew Wanda Landowska, and her student Ralph Kirkpatrick, and his student Fernando Valenti, and so on. He told many stories about them (a few of which I shared with Esfahani). He had harpsichordists give recitals in his home(s). He definitely would have loved having Esfahani over. I think the feeling would have been mutual.

Above all other works of music, I think, WFB loved Bach’s Goldberg Variations. They were played on several occasions chez lui, on both the harpsichord and the piano. Esfahani has a recording of the Goldbergs, here.

In our Q&A, we talk about various issues concerning his instrument, and about music more broadly. (This includes Whitney Houston.) In a discussion about the differences between the harpsichord and the piano, Esfahani makes an analogy involving Bob Newhart and Don Rickles. It works, too, perfectly.

WFB would have loved it. You might too. Again, that podcast is here.

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