The Corner

Talkers (and Singers and Doers . . .)

I seem to have been doing a lot of talking lately — or rather, prompting others to talk. (Both, actually.) Last week, Christa Ludwig came to New York, which is a very rare thing: She had not been to America in 14 years. Ludwig is one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, and indeed of all time. She is a German mezzo-soprano, born in 1928. I interviewed her at her hotel. We will have a three-part series, which begins today, here.

Ludwig proved a marvelous interviewee — very candid, very interesting, very funny. Unselfconsciously charismatic (which is the only way to be truly charismatic, I guess). We talked about a wide range of issues: the war, her life, other singers, music, Europe, America, the Far East, the future . . . Everything out of her mouth was interesting, and superbly expressed.

She stumbles through English (though less than she claims she does). She had not really spoken English since her last visit to America, all those years ago. But she knows how to communicate, in a thousand ways. She, of course, spent her life in communication, musically speaking.

Also a good interviewee — a superb one — is Jeb Bush. He is exceptionally candid for a politician, or for anyone, maybe. He comes across as a “man in full” (to borrow a phrase). Yesterday, we put up a video of an interview I did with him in 2011. Still fresh as a daisy, if I say so myself. The relevant blogpost is here. The ex-governor and I talked about the Bush family, Reagan, Carter, Clinton, the Castro brothers — lots of people, lots of issues.

You know who could talk, really talk? Ed Koch, the late mayor (and writer and personage and other things). The interview I taped with him is here. For a brief sampler of the series at large, go here.

Back to great and legendary mezzo-sopranos for a second. Christa Ludwig came to New York in order to participate in a series led by Marilyn Horne at Carnegie Hall. This series includes masterclasses, and Ludwig gave one of them. Horne gave another — which I have written up, or commented on, at The New Criterion, here.

Coming soon: an interview with Hernando de Soto, arguably the most important economist in the world. Whether he can sing, I can’t tell you.