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.)