The Corner

Culture

‘More Debonair’

Years ago, I interviewed Leon Fleisher, the great American pianist, and I asked him about George Szell: the legendary, and sometimes oppressive, Hungarian-born conductor. Once, they were recording Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in B flat. The orchestra was not getting the opening to Szell’s satisfaction. Fleisher had a suggestion for Szell — which took some temerity, believe me. He said, “Perhaps a bit more debonair?” Szell loved the idea. “Gentlemen,” he said to the orchestra, “more debonair.” And so it was.

I have recorded a new Jaywalking, here. (You can also subscribe in a number of ways.) Toward the beginning, I play Walking the Dog, the Gershwin number.

The most debonair music ever written? Quite possibly. See if you agree.

P.S. Someone should write a piece for our own time: Wagging the Dog.

P.P.S. I once met Kitty Carlisle Hart at a party at the Buckleys’. Someone said to me, “You just met a woman to whom George Gershwin proposed marriage.” That was a dizzying fact. Took some math. Remarkable.

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