The Corner

The Guest That Got Away

Today, we publish the second and final part of my “Bogotá Journal,” notes on the passing scene in that South American capital (here). A few of those notes are musical. But here on the Corner, I’d like to say something about Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter who passed away earlier this week.

Some years ago, I did a public interview of Markus Hinterhäuser in Salzburg. At the time, he was director of concerts for the Salzburg Festival. Now he leads the whole shebang (operas, etc.). Pretty much everyone wants to come to the Salzburg Festival. Every musician, I mean, in the classical world.

I said to Hinterhäuser, “Is there anyone you can’t get? Johnny Carson used to say the one guest he couldn’t get was Cary Grant. Everyone else would appear on The Tonight Show — indeed, would crawl over broken glass to do it. But Grant was an elusive one.”

My question to Hinterhäuser was: “Who is your Cary Grant?”

He gave an answer I was totally unprepared for: Leonard Cohen. He admired Cohen no end. He never missed a chance to hear Cohen, wherever that chance was. And it was a dream of his to get Cohen to Salzburg.

I don’t think it ever happened. Anyway, I thought this was tremendously high praise, the type of thing you don’t forget.