The Corner

Culture

The Maestro and the Donald

Harvey Sachs, a music writer and historian, has written a big, fat, great biography of Toscanini, the conductor. I reviewed it in our August 14 issue. Today and tomorrow, I am expanding that review in my Impromptus. For the first installment, go here.

I’ve got something that may amuse you. Over the weekend, a friend of mine sent me an audio clip of Toscanini in rehearsal. Toscanini flips out, as he was wont to do. He goes absolutely psycho on the bass players. On YouTube, the heading is “Toscanini DESTROYS a bass section.”

That’s the way they do it on Twitter and all over the Internet. So-and-so DESTROYS so-and-so. Or so-and-so administers a SAVAGE beatdown. All these tough guys at their computer keyboards, working out their belligerence. I picture them as pasty little fellas who never played sports.

Anyway, I wrote to my friend — a pianist and conductor, by the way — “Un mostro” (a monster). I had some other choice words for the maestro as well. My friend responded, “Knowing bass sections the way I do, though, I can sympathize. And, I get a little bit of a sick thrill out of it!”

I answered — using a phrase of our time — “That’s why Trump got elected!” I added, “A serious point, actually.” My friend said, “Yup.”