Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stand facing the orange

Today looking in my "Joy of Cooking" for a strawberry jam recipe, I found myself thinking of George Szell. You know, and his friendship with Irma Rombauer, who wrote "The Joy of Cooking."

I explored this appetizing topic once before. And suddenly, as I stood facing the stove, I found myself hungry for new details. I dried my hands and got on Google.

Well, guess what. There were no new details!

If you Google Rombauer and Szell nothing comes up, other than my Web log post. That picture up above is of Irma, left, and her daughter Marion Rombauer Becker. I can find no pictures of Irma Rombauer with George Szell, alas.

I guess I own this issue!

Which made me think I should write on it again. I did more fishing. And eventually something did come up. You have to read the fine print! It is part of a tribute to Irma Rombauer written by her daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, on some ancestry site.

In later years there were other gay musical gatherings at Mother's, especially while she served on the board of the St. Louis Symphony. Some of these occurred in seasons during which the podium was occupied by a series of guest conductors. Most of these visitors were European. Virtually all had few close friends in the city, were not averse to an informal home-cooked meal, and enjoyed a quiet encounter with sympathetic people who could in some instances literally speak their language-or, rather, one of their languages. This pleasant contingency brought us, among others, Georg Szell, Molinari, and the Arboses, with their great friend Alfred Cortot. Cortot especially delighted the company with his parodies of nineteenth-century bravura pieces, executed with the dramatic help of a large navel orange, which he rolled sonorously over the keyboard.

That is pretty cool, Cortot and the orange. That is an old vaudeville trick, playing the piano with an orange. Lang Lang does it on YouTube with Chopin's "Black Key" Etude. Ha, ha!

But to have the pianist Alfred Cortot rolling an orange around, that is classic. Especially in Irma Rombauer's living room!

Here he is without an orange. Imagine him with one.

Googling around about Cortot and the orange I find nothing.

Perhaps I can own this issue too!

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