The Corner


Stick to Your . . .

At a concert the other night, Ignat Solzhenitsyn walked out and played a little waltz on the piano — just a simple thing. It is known as The Tolstoy Waltz. At one time, Tolstoy claimed to have written it. He had not, though. And when conscience struck him, he was too embarrassed to correct the record.

That’s okay: Tolstoy wrote some other things that do him credit.

In Jaywalking — the third episode of my new podcast — I begin with The Tolstoy Waltz and some other music, for good measure. Then I get into the music of taxes and government and the like. I end with a little story about an orchestra member who found herself with little to do — and so knitted. Yes, knitted, throughout the evening.

By the way, I was working once at a golf course and we were out of carts, on account of a big outing. An irate customer insisted that we somehow produce a cart. A crusty old pro-shop worker — a friend of mine — said, “What would you have me do, sir? Knit you one?”

I’ll never forget it (obviously). Such an odd thing to have said, and perfect.

P.S. That orchestra member — the knitter — was playing (and knitting) in a performance of Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, the Monteverdi opera. I mention this opera in a review of Mitchell Cohen’s new book, The Politics of Opera. The review appears in the new Weekly Standard, here. I end it like this:

A book such as Cohen’s may not be for everyone — whose is? — but it is certainly for some. I was thinking of the ideal reader of this book. He ought to be a political scientist, an opera maven, a man alive to the myriad machinations of the world.

The answer came to me as I was reading passages on Machiavelli, that (literal) Renaissance man. Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Kristol.

WFB would have been a ready audience for that book, too. When talking to Schuyler Chapin (who once ran the Metropolitan Opera), he could go back between politics and opera as he liked. (Chapin had excellent stories — including about Heifetz, whom he once managed.)

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

It’s the Stock Market, Stupid

Before going any further, I must say that I don’t believe Protectionist Donald really will go all the way with his present attempt to strangle global trade. I believe that the end run will be quite similar to what it was with the steel and aluminum tariffs — which is to say, a photo op in the Oval Office. ... Read More

An Even Worse Vatican Deal with China

Of all the disturbing and even silly things that have been said in defense of the deal between the Vatican and China reportedly being negotiated, the most offensive is that critics of this proposed arrangement to regularize Catholic life in the PRC don’t understand that the Cold War is over and the world is in ... Read More

Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today (March 23, 2018)

I send out a free weekly e-mail newsletter that typically goes out Saturday mornings and includes WFB flashbacks, Firing Line videos, upcoming events, and some of what I’ve been up to. Sign up here. 1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the Wall Street Journal: Talking about New York, he noted: 2. The Guardian on the ... Read More
National Review

Palm Sunday with WFB

The wonderful National Review Institute forum in New York City last month, held on the tenth anniversary of Bill Buckley’s death -- but truly a celebration of his life and legacy -- was captured by the good folks at C-SPAN, who now tell us that two panels of the forum will be broadcast this Sunday on C-SAN 3. ... Read More