. . . and one I just learned yesterday, as it happens. I was talking to Yehuda Avner, not about Rubinstein, but about Menachem Begin. Avner is a British-born Israeli who has counseled a slew of prime ministers — including Begin. In the ’80s — the Thatcher ’80s — Avner served as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.
Anyway, we got on the subject of Rubinstein. He and Begin were friends — they certainly knew each other. In fact, Rubinstein was at the Begins’ the day the prime minister won the Nobel Peace Prize, with Sadat. Begin asked him to played something in celebration — which he did. Anyway, here’s the story that Avner related:
The politician says to the pianist, “Mr. Rubinstein, you have ten fingers, I have ten fingers. And when I place my ten fingers on the keyboard, I just make noise. When you place your ten fingers on the keyboard, you produce celestial sounds.” Pianist to politician: “Mr. Begin, I have a mouth, you have a mouth. When I open my mouth, I talk drivel. When you open your mouth, you produce celestial words.”
You may not remember Begin as much of an orator or an arguer, probably because his international reputation — shaped by the Left — is negative. But he was very good, believe me.
Anyway, I think I’m done with Rubinstein stories for the day. I may be back with Heifetz . . .