• Cellist Pablo Casals was born and grew up in Catalonia. While on tour in the United States, he visited the territory of New Mexico. While walking in the desert, Mr. Casals and pianist Léon Moreau came across a cabin. The cabin’s owner, who was dressed like a cowboy, greeted them. Mr. Casals noticed his accent, and he asked the man where he was from. “It’s a country you never heard of,” the man said. “Catalonia.” Mr. Casals enjoyed seeing and learning new things. To understand the life of coal miners in the United States, Mr. Casals and Mr. Moreau went down into a mineshaft in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. When Mr. Casals and Mr. Moreau reached the surface again, it was time for their concert, which they gave while still covered with coal dust.
• Despite being born in Boston, George Copeland played Spanish music very well and even lived in Spain; however, he abandoned his Spanish villa just before a revolutionary war broke out. He had a good reason. One morning, he discovered one of his Loyalist servants on the patio. More specifically, he found the servant’s head — the rest of the servant was nowhere to be found.
• When choreographer Anthony Tudor first came to the United States, he arrived on Columbus Day. All the banks were closed and no bonds had been posted, so he was forced to remain on Ellis Island that night. Fortunately, he enjoyed the company he found there.
• Some people have the money but not necessarily the intelligence to attend significant musical events. A truly intelligent pianist, Denis Matthews, once overheard this during a program conducted by Arturo Toscanini: “When is Toscanini coming on? Don’t tell me he is only the conductor!” By the way, Mr. Matthews played piano for the British armed forces during World War II. During a blackout, an old woman saw him and some other musicians. She saw that they were wearing uniforms, and supposing that the instruments many of the musicians were holding were lethal weapons of war, told them, “That’s right, lads — give them hell!”
• When opera singer Maria Callas was a young girl, she sometimes got caught lying, so her mother used to punish her in accordance with an old Greek custom — she put pepper on young Maria’s lips. By the way, Maria’s Uncle Filon was a saboteur for the Greeks during World War II. He worked as an engineer at an air base for the Nazis, and he managed to destroy nine German airplanes by putting sugar in their gas tanks. The Nazis discovered what he was doing, so he had to flee for his life. After the war, the Communists who tried to take over Greece killed him.
• To protest war, artist David Smith created a series of Medals for Dishonor — bronze medallions with anti-war imagery. Because the public supported World War II, it disliked the medallions, but that didn’t bother Mr. Smith: “Never sold a one. But I would rather have the approval of other artists and critics than monetary sales reward.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE ARTS