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Subject: Re: thomas beecham quotes
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Fri, 10 Mar 2017 23:06:20 -0500

text/plain (73 lines)

A dear friend of mine in New York, Belle Schulhof, who acted as my "New
York Grandmother" when I was at college in the 70s, ran an artist's
management firm that had an impressive roster of conductors going back to
the 1940s and included Beecham, Ansermet, Stokowski, Ernst Dohnanyi,
Barbirolli, Ferencsic, and many others.  Her husband Andrew started the
agency with Beecham as his first client.  Belle had many Beecham stories
that I have never read or heard told anywhere else.  Here are a few:

Beecham loved fresh air and hated being in hotels where the windows did
not open.  While staying in a suite in a new air-conditioned luxury hotel
in Dallas, he discovered that the windows were sealed shut.  He called
Andrew and the manager to the suite and insisted that the window be
opened.  The manager explained that the windows could not be opened.
Beecham replied, "My friend, I am going to demonstrate that this window
can be opened."  And he took his umbrella and smashed the glass.

Some time later on tour, he ran into the same problem in Houston.  When
the Houston Symphony's manager, Tom Johnson, arrived at the hotel to 
take Beecham to dinner, Beecham told him, "I'm not going to conduct the 
damned orchestra.  I'm going home."  When Johnson asked what was the 
matter, Beecham replied, "This hotel, this triumph of your modern American
architecture:  you cannot open the windows!"  Johnson said he would take
care of the problem, and while Beecham was at rehearsal, Johnson and
Beecham's wife moved everything to an older hotel where the windows
opened.  When Beecham came back from rehearsal, it was pouring rain
outside.  Upon reaching his new room, Beecham went straight to the 
window, opened it, stuck his head out into the pouring rain and said, "Ah, 
this is more like it!"

Once when rehearsing "Carmen" at the Met with Alexander Sved as 
Escamillo, Beecham took Belle's husband, Andrew Schulhof (who like Sved 
was Hungarian) aside and said, "Mr. Schulhof, will you kindly tell your
compatriot that he is the toreador, not the bull?"

Once when conducting on tour in Mexico, Beecham was irritated by the
Mexican musicians' habit of rotating players without any schedule or
regularity, and of straggling in to rehearsal whenever they pleased.  So,
Beecham was surprised at one rehearsal when he not only saw all the
players sitting in place at the start of rehearsal, but that they were the
same players he had rehearsed the day before.  He gave a little speech
congratulating them on their punctuality and thanking them and what an
honor it was to conduct them, etc. etc.  Then, he raised his arms, gave
the downbeat, and - silence.  No one played.  Beecham looked surprised 
and the players all burst out laughing and told him that the librarian was
sick and they had no music on their stands.

Beecham himself was a light eater, for medical reasons, but after a
performance he would invite people to join him for dinner and order an
enormous spread of food.  While on tour, the dinner company usually
consisted of Lady Beecham, Belle and Andrew, all of whom were light 
eaters.  Once Lady Beecham asked Sir Thomas why he kept ordering all 
that food when he knew no one was going to eat it.  He replied, "They shall 
be on the table.  I like to look at them."  He then recited a poem:

You can live without poetry, music or art,
You can live with conscience, live without heart,
You can live without science, or live without books,
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.


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