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Subject: Re: Thomas Beecham Quotes
From: Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 9 Mar 2017 20:58:29 -0500

text/plain (52 lines)

On Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 7:41 PM, donald kane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> This thread is one of the best we've ever had; I wish I could contribute
> something new to it.  Was there ever a published collection of quotes from
> Sir Thomas?

There is a delightful collection of anecdotes compiled by H. Atkins & A.
Newman, BEECHAM STORIES. Yehudi Menuhin wrote an introduction.

> Has anyone else ever wondered, as I have, what induced Beecham to spend
> the war years in America, at a time when he was esteemed as an English
> cultural "icon"?

Yes, I've always wondered about it. I adore him as a conductor and his wit
always brings a smile, but I couldn't escape a sense of discomfort and deep
disappointment with his decision to leave England in the middle of blitz. I
read about it in a memoir written by Berta Geissmar, THE BATON AND THE
JACKBOOT. It's a fascinating and incredibly engaging memoir about the
politics and music culture in her native Germany and then wartime London.
Coming from a richly musical and intellectual family background, she became
Furtwangler's secretary in the 1930s and then, thanks to Furtwangler's
help, as a Jew had to escape to England as a Beecham's secretary. While
Beecham was away from his native land  during the wartime, she loyally
guarded his music library and possessions during the entire Blitz period.
Returning with his new wife after the war, Beecham then simply abandoned
her as his secretary. She adored him, as she did Furtwangler as well, and
didn't write a single negative comment about him, but I thought that his
wartime desertion of his country and then abandoning his loyal secretary
after she had guarded his music and other possessions from bombs was

That said, I can't help but admiring his music-making (incidentally, both
he and Furtwangler are my favorite conductors) and his wit & humor are
always irresistible.

Best, Vesna

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