Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grouchy old man

There is a problem I have in that the things I like to listen to, I listen to over and over, and the things I like to read, I read over and over. It is not a bad thing but it is hard to find the time to do it. I wish I were a teenager again, when all I had to do was sprawl on my bed and listen to Bach.

Now I sneak in pleasures here and there.

The other day at a second-hand book sale I spent a buck on a book I get a kick out of, David Dubal's "Evenings with Horowitz."

It has been a long time since I looked at this book and there are some things I am foggy on. The book tells how Dubal's friendship with old pianist Vladimir Horowitz collapses because the Horowitzes will not let him bring a date to any of the parties. I am not sure why that is. Also I am not sure why Horowitz gets addicted to having students playing for him. Did he just want to feel like the Maestro or was it more nefarious? Probably what I should do is sit down with this book and read it cover to cover. But when? I do not even have time to dry my hair.

So what I do is, I open the book here and there, and read this and that, often when I am drying my hair, which was the mental connection there. "Evenings With Horowitz" is always fun.

I like the book for its insights into Horowitz's personality, which I think must be pretty accurate. Also, not to sound too nerdy, but I like Dubal's use of adverbs.

"Wanda ardently agreed."

"Horowitz said glumly."

"Horowitz and Wanda nodded vigorously."

That is Horowitz and his wife, Wanda, the daughter of Toscanini, up above. By the time Dubal knew them, though, they were much older.

One paragraph last night got Howard and me laughing.

Dubal wants to bring his girlfriend to a party the Horowitzes are having and he is arguing with Horowitz about it.

"You know Wanda is in charge of these things," Horowitz says. "She likes only married people. She's Catholic."

I said, "Come now, Maestro. Are Woody Allen and Mia Farrow married? And I can name other exceptions who are allowed to your parties. ..."

There was no doubt Horowitz was rather upset at this confrontation. Just then, we were called to dinner.

"We go down now. I go peepee first. After a good dinner, you will feel better."

When he returned, he sat, as always, at the head of the table, with me at his left side. During his absence, he had regained his composure and started talking about the people who had been ostracized from his life.


That is what cheers Horowitz up!

Well, Dubal makes the point that Horowitz was thinking of ostracizing him, making a subtle threat. But I think even besides that, Horowitz probably liked to think about the people he had ostracized. Like notches in his belt.

Gotta love him, you know?

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