Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky; drawing by David Levine

Crito: The attendant who is to give you the [hemlock] wants me to tell you not to talk too much…talking is apt to interfere with the action of the poison.

Phaedo, 63

NYR: When you went to Europe recently, Mr. Stravinsky, we heard that you were intending to go for good.

I.S.: For the better, anyway. At the time I left Los Angeles it already seemed too late for a phased withdrawal. The song was like Mace, but then, the air apart from radioisotopes must be better anywhere else, even in a coal mine. A major earthquake was predicted, too, and not merely by seismologists but by the religious protection rackets, which were transferring east to pray out the millennium and await the second option of chiliasm there; self-centered as it is to say so, in view of the probable devastations to and from atomic and bacteriological stockpiles, I would fall like Humpty Dumpty now, and being unable to make a “soft landing” break unmendably. A tidal wave was expected also, and since a few heavy showers can turn much of the city into “slide areas” necessitating helicopter evacuations, a really sizable inundation would wash the whole “songdom” and “gemurrmal” out to sea. Yet despite these and other catastrophes, actual and impending, no one got around to designating the State a disaster area until the mid-winter monsoons.

Even so, the most immediate hazard was the state of society. Whatever they were “on” about then, “speed,” “soul,” the recent invention of “youth,” people with anti-astronaut hairstyles were milling about my street in such numbers that even the ambulances—which siren by every few minutes normally, curtains raised, presumably to give the emergency patient a last look—had to find another route. Welcome as this was in terms of noise abatement, it attracted still more of the armed and uniformed men who were already so conspicuous that the neighborhood felt like occupied territory. Or worse than occupied territory. The xenon beams that search the stygian gloom of the polluted upper sky (“the smog is lofting”—Finnegans Wake, 593), and that supposedly “send up” film premieres, actually give one the impression of being near, or in, a concentration camp.

High barriers exist, in any case—and not only figuratively, the fencing of at least one private estate hereabouts apparently having been modeled on the Berlin Wall. A social war foments around them, moreover, and it could easily break into a shooting one, did break into one shortly before I left, when the police out-gunned a man hardly three hundred yards from my house. At about that time, as well, the American Legion started to campaign against my San Diego neighbor Professor Marcuse, an action I read as a warning to keep my peace about the war or risk being dealt with Chicago-style myself.

All the same, the final decision to leave came from a very different consideration. It was simply that I had begun to fear some City or State official might find out that I live there. This would almost certainly lead to an award, such as I have been receiving during the past sixty-five years from other cities, states, countries, kibbutzim, and tribes; and entail a ceremony, with a presentation speech by Miss Long Beach, perhaps, or one of the Beverly Hillbillies. Something had to give, obviously, and it was me. I took the least frequently hijacked run to New York, and then to Zurich.

NYR: What did you do in Switzerland, Mr. Stravinsky?

I.S.: Saw friends. They came not only to see but to touch me, though, as if I were some talismanic relic; I supposed that they were only double-checking, and remembering that the Great Leap Forward had checked on the tangibility of Chairman Mao by obliging him to swim, I did not complain. In lawful, orderly, and quiescent Zurich, however, and with distance lending enchantment, I began to miss not only the last-few-minutes-of-the-Roman Empire aspect of Hollywood, but also the commotion (“Come to America where the action is”), campus “unrest” (i.e., tanks, bombs, guerrilla warfare) and all. In fact, the sound of hunters’ rifles in the woods near the hotel one afternoon made me so nostalgic for Sunset Boulevard on a Saturday night that if I had had an oxygen mask and enough bulletproofing….

NYR: Where did you go, Mr. Stravinsky?

I.S.: To Paris, to see more friends. I walked quite regularly, too, as much as I can walk, in Le Nôtre’s paths at Chantilly and, less bracingly, in the corridors of the Trianon Palace Hotel, where some of the boarders might have been making an early Chaplin film: a white-gloved cigar-smoker; a spats-wearing walker of a small, compensatorily ferocious dog; an alcoholically roseate old woman talker-to-cats. I did not go to concerts, but did hear some new music on tape, including one very fine piece (a lot of glib music is being written nowadays) by Gérard Masson, whose acquaintance I made as well. And, yes, I saw Le Sacre du printemps. This frolic was held in the Opéra, but it belonged at the Folies-Bergères.


I was in Paris during the monetary crisis, by the way, and was greatly impressed by the contrast between the success of the international bankers and the failure of the international peace negotiators. What is really important to “the comity of nations,” or, rather, to the people who really run the world, can and does get action.

NYR: We read that you had talked with French television officials, but did you see any television there?

I.S.: No, which must be why it strikes me as even more echolalic and mind-jamming back here than before. But I have noticed changes in televisional moeurs since then, too. One is that the close-up of the dead and dying, of the accident and murder victim (locally as well as in Biafra and Vietnam), has become a feature of the medium. Another I cannot describe, but it is exemplified in yesterday’s announcement by a color-video commentator, part green, part third-degree sunburn, that “Although General Eisenhower’s condition has improved, plans are going ahead for his funeral.”

Television sells more than that which is so disastrously rated next to godliness, to be sure (in fact it sells vicarious existences), but the predominating advertisements seem to be those which imply that a dirtless, odorless, and inconvenienceless society is the ultimate goal of civilization. These somehow inadequate aims must be near fulfillment, furthermore, at least in the home thanks to socially up-to-date detergents (“DRIVE eats blood stains”) powered by “ultrasonic activated bubbles.” The “technology of false needs” has turned to Nature itself, in any case, and is already spraying it with defoliants, denudants, dessicants, deodorants, herbicides, germicides, pesticides, nitpickers. A play about Adam in contemporary undress would be obliged even now to represent the Garden without a leaf, let alone an apple. Now, too, the punitive and expiatory needs of the puritan sanitation insanity are arousing expectations of cosmic retribution, in the contamination of other planets with terrestrial micro-organisms and of our own with lunar spores.

Which reminds me of the video highlight on my return, the Christmas-pageant space-show reconciling missile technology and Genesis. In fact the space capsule itself was turned into a teleological argument as the Three Wise Men astronauts, guided by earthshine, read Bible poetry to Sabbatarian earthlings. Gott mit uns, the Space Program was assuring us, but it must have been worried that a more prestigiously remote orbit had been destined as a pulpit for readings from Das Kapital on Marx’s birthday.

NYR: What did your European friends think of our elections?

I.S.: They were unable to imagine the visage of the new President on Mount Rushmore, so they said, and not only because of the sculptural obstacles. And some of them questioned whether actual voting need take place any more, on the grounds that computerized public-opinion polls are reasonably reliable now, and in effect have already done the job; one friend, probably thinking of my own welfare, suggested that the saving in time, money, and fresh fertilizer, properly converted and applied, could be used to make Los Angeles inhabitable. Certainly an election by opinion survey would not destroy the illusion that by dropping a ballot in a ballot box and proclaiming the winner the people’s choice (which he or she could be only by a concatenation of choices several million links removed), the body politic is exercising its freedom and democratic rights. Even so transparently supposititious an operation as the Democratic convention could not undermine that fantasy, after all.

Vested-interested legislators may be an old story, but some of the territory they are now obliged to administer—the management of the scientific future, for one rather estimable precinct—is alarmingly new. Consider the field of genetics, with its limitless power and short timetable of disaster. Assume, too, that the “new-mandarin” race-improving committees are “humane,” “well-meaning,” “responsible,” and that they can be entrusted with the elimination of diabetics, cleft palates, stutterers, the color-blind, and the tone-deaf. But what about mental defectives, and especially borderline cases?

Consolation of a sort is offered by the certainty that the administration of science by scientists would be even worse. When a debate opened up at the recent Congress of Genetics in Tokyo as to whether science could afford to be bound by ethics, one pro-ethics delegate clinched his argument with the epiphany that “Although man consists of molecules he is not a molecule himself”; and a like-minded colleague added that “The evolution of every species is certainly being modified very greatly by the presence of man.” That at least deserves a prize for litotes.


But this is high science, still for the moment unapplied. What is transpiring meanwhile with some of the applied kinds, with for instance the grafting, transplanting, implanting of those thirty-five spare body-parts? (What a relief to be too old for gardening of this sort!) Will those life-prolonging utilities be available to rich and poor alike, to the queue-forming as well as the well-connected? And by what means will donors be found? Euthanasia? Black Markets in dismembering? Body-snatching (of the still living)?

NYR: What were your friends’ views of our Black Separatists?

I.S.: I have not worked out my own views yet. “Now there are only the blacks and those who dislike them,” says Mr. Bond. But this is untrue and unhelpful. Nor will it help to ban Monostatos or the Moor in Petrushka; Manichean characters they are, of course, but their absurdity apart from their music can only animadvert on white culture—they are little white lies—not on black. (Incidentally, the “racial” motivation in Monostatos’s account of his rape attempt resembles Mr. Cleaver’s account of the same thing in Soul on Ice.)

Since I cannot be certain that it mattered, I am no less rhetorical than Mr. Bond in mentioning that the man out-gunned near my house was black. Yet the origins of the black man’s crime were to some degree rooted in the inequities which that circumstance introduces. The point is irrelevant in the near-sighted and compartmented eye of the law, which does not admit or apportion any dependence of the particular on the general, and which is only beginning to accept the idea, as old as the Encyclopedists, of diminished responsibility. But the law, after all, is a rather large constituent in the moral dilemma.

The shooting was a consequence of petty larceny. But was it necessary to kill? Can trained marksmen do no better? Or are the Los Angeles Police (as they might at times appear to the incompletely manumitted people of Watts) deliberately under-practiced at certain targets partly because of over-specialization in the upholding of a prejudicial system? The system I mean is the non-distribution of wealth, thanks to tax shelters and other privileges whereby the rich may pay less taxes than their chauffeurs—which is why possession should be taxed rather than income, why we need an Onassis tax, and Rockefellow and Rothschildren taxes, and a tax on tax expatriots, and a not-likely-to-pass-through-the-eye-of-the-needle tax.

* * *

The solution to racism is genetic, but I no longer remember my Mendel and whether fusion can be achieved quickly or only after a long interregnum of sexual roulette. I wonder, too, if when it has been, racism will disappear, or whether it will then be a question of

…I swear Beauty herself is black,
And all they foul that thy comp- lexion lack.


NYR: How would a contemporary musician paraphrase Mendelssohn’s “what a piece of music expresses is not too vague a thought to be put into words, but too precise a thought”?

I.S.: He might say that music is a non-analogous system—or several non-analogous systems, for it is a Babel rather than a universal language. And if he had said that, he might add that the basis of intelligibility (since it is not an encoded something else) is presupposed, self-contained, innate. The epistemological problem would thus be the same as it is with verbal language. The mode of knowledge is untranslatable but not private: it depends on other users. Which is Descartes’ (superseded) “other minds” argument: “…qu’ils usent comme moy de la Parole…qu’ils le sont comme moy.”

But would “he” have said it, subscribed to the nominalism, in the first place? A sociology of music, the correlating of music and the whole of life, does not exist as yet, but studies in specialized areas—in psychiatry, for instance, where patients who will respond to no verbal approach (trust no verbal approach?) both respond to and participate in music—prove that it is understood in correlative terms.

Does the world of the Beethoven quartets exist outside of music, then, and is it possible to discover a reflective system between the language structure of the music and the structure of the phenomenal world? No, to the first, but to the second, well, yes, perhaps, eventually. All the same, the music of the quartets, and of The Magic Flute, accedes to an in-extremis importance in the human consciousness beyond the pleasure principle, or divertimento principle, on which it nevertheless continues to depend.

My further, personal, belief is that, the quartets are a charter of human rights, and a perpetually seditious one in the Platonic sense of the subversiveness of art. The charter is obviously no solvent to the discarded humanity in Resurrection Cities, for whom, on the contrary, the accessibility of such treasures to other people must seem as unjust, and the use of them as tactless, in different orders of value, as the Burtons’ ditto with their new yacht. Nor will it bring much balm to activists, for whom “art” is a cant word anyway, and “aesthetic examples” a run-around in the language game. (According to the Hindu chakras, the body-center both for the aesthetic feelings and feelings of material affluence is—did Freud know this?—the anus, which may have something to do with the high incidence in aesthetes and collectors of a condition often if indecorously described as tight-assed.)

A high concept of freedom is embodied in the quartets, nevertheless, both beyond and including what Beethoven himself meant when he wrote (to Prince Galitzin) that his music could “help suffering mankind.” They are a measure of man (I am thinking of Professor Puccetti’s extra-human “persons”), and part of the description of the quality of man, and their existence is a guarantee.

NYR: Why The Magic Flute, even assuming that you mean to limit it to the music?

I.S.: Can it be limited to the music? I believe in the entity myself. Certainly the magic is limited to the music, while the moral meaning—the entity I believe in—would hardly be worth stating, if it could be stated apart from it. Still, the music is not “independent,” and not “pure.” In fact it seems to me that the intentional meaning of the opera, the triumph of Life over Death, is reversed at times in the musical depths; in the brave little parade of Music through the gates of Death, for example, the flute charms the Keeper into a stay of execution, but the piece is a funeral march, nonetheless. Death is just beneath the surface in much of the other music as well, especially Pamina’s, and in the great C-minor fugato-chorale, which somehow succeeds in sounding Beethoven’s Eroica note without Beethoven’s display of superior will, the wings of the terrible angel are closer than they have ever been before in music.

Mozart’s Masonic allegory-land is a more attractive country than the dixhuitième Establishment countries of his other operas, at least to me, and not only musically. It is morally more generous, for one thing, and for another the dramatic terrain ranges more widely, partly because of the new and diverse elevations of the religious, the mystical, and the supernatural. In fact the greatest achievement of the opera is precisely the entity the unity of feeling that imbues all of the music from sacred choruses and magic spells to the proto-Broadway duet—except in musical quality—concerning the future propagations of Papageno and Papagena.

Unlike Don Giovanni the opera does not include any extended scene, but neither does it “lack” one. (It also does not contain, or lack, any bore comparable to Masetto.) On the other hand, Mozart is more economical and faster-moving than ever, setting the stage for the final scene, for instance, with a single phrase. The simplest means are more effective, too, as in the device of the “false” relationship, which occurs in all of his music, yet here (most vertiginously in Pamina’s “Mir klingt der Mutternahme süsse“) as if for the first time.

The most obvious anticipations are of Weber, Wagner, the Mendelssohn of the Midsummer Night’s Dream. (The most obvious omission is Schubert, who had already been scooped in “L’ho perduta” from Figaro.) Wagner is everywhere, and all the way from Tannhäuser (the sixteenth-note violin figuration in the final Andante) to Tristan (“Wann also wird die Decke schwinden” and “jeden Tone meinen Dank zu schildern“). The Pamina-Sarastro scene is Wagnerian, too (though Sarastro’s own music more strikingly resembles the music of Jesus in the Bach Passions), except that Mozart stops precisely where Wagner, already heavy-breathing, would have begun to overblow.

The forerunning, in any case and since I have somehow got on to this dreary subject, is more remarkable in the Terzett (No. 16) and in the accompaniment to Papageno’s final aria, which plagiarize and improve upon The Sleeping Beauty; in the choral parts and instrumental bass-line of “Bald, Bald, Jüngling,” which were lifted from Rigoletto; and in the introduction to “Drei Knäbchen, jung schön,” which might have been borrowed from a rainy-day mood-piece by Ravel.

* * *

NYR: What are the outstanding tendencies in music today, as distinguished from a decade ago when you said that Boulez and Stockhausen represented them?

I.S.: Well, those two names are still an inescapable collocation, and Stock-hausen is still on the crest of the Nouvelle Vague. In fact most of the main rages of the moment were either begotten by him or else quickly taken under his wing. The one for the re-employment of the classics (an idea as old as the quodlibet) was popularized by his Hymnen, and the one for sustained-sounds by his Stimmung, a seventy-minute chord—Stockhausen’s time-scale is that of Die Götterdämmerung—which to me indicates the need of a musical equivalent to the parking meter; though that idea, I might add, is as old as Purcell’s Fantasy Upon One Note. The main lines of many other Stockhausen novelties are laid down in his own “concerts.” One of them is the blurring of the termini both ad quo and ad quem, or call it the blending of aesthetic enterprises with “the world.” Another is in improvising electronic accompaniments to the ascents of balloons, which is rather like bubble-blowing, pictorially speaking.

The handiest index of comparison from the beginning to the end of the decade is not in the work of any composer, however, but in the status of electronic music. It has moved in that time from a corner of experiment to the center of the stage, from concerts for hard-core colleagues to such soft-centered films as Candy. And it has moved into and conquered academe. The young musician takes his degree in computer technology now, and settles down to his Moog or his mini-synthesizer as routinely as in my day he would have taken it in counterpoint and harmony (see dictionary) and gone to work at the piano.

As for the live new music of the decade, the main power struggle was between the pre-ordained and the lottery schools, even though, so far as the ordinary listener was concerned, this amounted to a stalemate, for no matter how polarized the differences, only score-readers and initiates were aware of them. In practice, the ad lib timing, the unfixed notes in fixed range, the mechanisms of choice, were not recognized as the freedom gestures they were intended to be, but as effects that might have been as despotically “written” as any other.

Progress, or at least invention, might have been detected by the non-initiate in the new techniques for the movement of sound in space. But some of the other “pioneering” of the period must have seemed to him like paring closer and closer to nothingness: the engaging of choruses in a variety of pranks not including any use of the voice, for example, and the performances on the woodwork of the piano (after the attractions of “topless” pianos had been over-exposed), and the exploitation of a principle of form based entirely on audience suspense in guessing how near the actual cul of the sac the promulgator really was. But the non-initiate may well have been wrong, and he may really have been offered

   …imperishable presences serene
Colossal, without form, or sense, or sound

Progress was also measured, incidentally, or not so incidentally, when ephemerality was finally claimed as an objective. This may have seemed simply to be making a virtue of necessity, but it increased production to the point where the manufacturer could retire each new model to the used-car lot even before it had been driven around the block.

NYR: Did you happen to read the Boulez-Liebermann dispute on the present state of opera, or Ezra Laderman’s letter in the Times on the neglect of American efforts in this form?

I.S.: Boulez assailed his targets so convincingly that I all the more regretted his reluctance to contribute his own example of the requisite new opera. But whereas he rejects all contemporary operas except Berg’s, Laderman did not even raise the value question. American operas should be performed because they are being written and because they are American. And insofar as opera composers require even more help than other kinds of composers, and American more than European, who would disagree? Except that what is the point?

In 1937 the Met could have been doing Wozzeck. What it did do was Damrosch’s The Man Without A Country, the indigenous opera in an acceptably bland style by a composer with the connections to get it performed. I did not hear it, but being in New York for my Jeu de Cartes at the time of the rehearsals, I heard some tattle about it. (There was said to be an unfortunate fermata on the first syllable of the last word of the title aria: “The Man Without A Count…ry.”) Judging by its traces, the performance did little for the Met, the composer, or the future of opera, which in fact seems more and more to be in the past.

NYR: How do today’s new-music audiences compare with those of your own early years?

I.S.: The question is unquantifiable, and anyway, as practically the oldest audience alive, I am hardly able to speak for young ones.

NYR: Then what are the incomparables?

I.S.: In my youth the new music grew out of and in reaction to traditions, whereas it appears to be evolving today as much from social needs as interior artistic ones. I am unable to evaluate this development, but I retract my former, irrelevant objections, which were that if anything goes, then nothing goes, and if anything can happen, it cannot matter very much what does happen.

The status of new music as a category is another incomparable. It had none at all in my early years being in fact categorically opposed, and often with real hostility. But the unsuccess of composers of my generation at least kept them from trading on success, and our unsuccess may have been less insidious than the automatic superlatives which nowadays kill the new by absorbing it to death. (By the same token, of course, the best hatchet jobs are done with pernicious praise.)

The largest incomparable is in the permissiveness factor. Twenty years ago, when Mitropoulos introduced Schoenberg’s then still rather steamy Five Pieces, to New York, one die-hard Philharmonic subscriber actually did die from the shock. Surely a response of that sensitivity is no longer possible now.


NYR: How do the upper eighties compare with the lower, Mr. Stravinsky?

I.S.: Very unfavorably. I probably seem like a “kid” to a Struldbruggian like Bertrand Russell, and in fact, next to that redoubtable sage I do not look very arctic. Still, eighty-seven years can feel like, as of course they are, an incurable disease. At that time of life, one’s corporeality and what is bizarrely called one’s health are too important. Former mechanical bodyhabits have to be programmed by the brain, and at times even the simplest limb movements must be put through the mind. This is part of the reason why we do not gallivant, but only toddle—at the end as in the beginning, as I was reminded while posing for photographs with my two-year-old great-granddaughter not long ago. And this is the only certain “wisdom of age” I am able to impart.

My perimeter of pleasures, small as it was in the lower eighties, has shrunk further now, and whereas my one unimpaired epicurean habit, a liquid one, has been almost completely stanched, everything except a gavage has been used to try to revive its impaired solid, one-time companion, meaning food. Seek other satisfactions, they tell me, and one that I have very earnestly sought of late is the satisfaction of surviving their remedies. This is churlish, I know, but I grew up, and old, in the days of general practitioners who did not expect a stipend and humanitarian award for each house call, or require the invalid to diagnose his own ailments. Competent treatment is available even now, no doubt, especially for illnesses uncomplicated by the necessity of considering whole human beings. But I misdiagnosed one of my own maladies not long ago, and the doctors who likewise failed to classify it went about their search as if what they really wanted to determine was whether I would prove as difficult to kill as Rasputin.

The more acute pains are the moral ones—that “melancholy” (i.e., the “spleen”) which Dürer points to in himself, in the drawing evidently intended for his physician—but pain, in any case, and from whatever source, quickly becomes what one believes in most completely. One of my most regular pains is induced by comparing my present exiguous output even with that of the by-no-means-bumper years of the mid-Sixties. I am pained, too, by sudden memory blanks; this is like waking at night in a foreign hotel and not knowing where you are. And my memory taunts me; while I may be unable to find the right address in it for an event of a month ago, and while yesterday is vague and last week might have evaporated, a great deal that was etched there three quarters of a century ago seems to lie on the tip of the tongue. These memory failures are more disturbing than reduced engine power, a car being able to run on one cylinder, after all, and a little lowoctane (not enough to flood the motor), so long as the transmission works and the chassis gets enough servicing.

At least I do not dwell on the future. (Unlike Prospero: “Every third thought shall be my grave.”) In fact the “dying-trajectories” in the Glaser and Strauss book bothered me no more than an insurance company’s annual statement of earnings might have done, even that vertical plunge at the end of each downward parabola marking the point at which the person represented by the graph had stopped creaking and, as the gerontophobes in my neighborhood so indelicately say, croaked.

* * *

It may be that the past can be recaptured, in sudden regurgitations of memory with eidetic recall, provoked and abetted in old people by moments of chronological suspension and confusion. I must have been in some such bemused state myself in Lucerne one afternoon last fall, for I seemed to have re-entered an earlier time-zone. I should mention that I have strong childhood associations with the city, and that its topographical changes are comparatively slight even today. Horses and charabancs have disappeared, of course, and the traffic police are young women now, ex-Heidis in white rubber coats, apparently weaponless though surely possessing secret ones like Karate. But the geranium windowsills, the swans waddling on the shore (not in the least Pavlova-like, in drydock), the snow roofs and log stacks, and much more, are wholly unchanged.

The time trick occurred, of all places, during a visit to Wagner’s villa at Triebschen. The rooms themselves, the porcelain péchka, and sash windows with pelmets, reminded me of Russian country houses I knew in my youth. Looking from them to the Lake (straight ahead because of encroaching factories and phalansteries), and hearing no sound but the wind—no juddering tourist boat, even no yodeller—I was transported to a similar and more naturally pristine afternoon on my first Swiss holiday four-fifths of a century ago. I had returned from a walk with my father that day, and as we entered the lobby of our hotel, the Schweizerhof, he told me to look in the direction of a beautiful lady he said was the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. And he added, I think because it was only shortly after Mayerling, that she was “neschasna” (unhappy). The picture of the Empress, in any case, and of my father and the room, was as clear and as real as the picture of Wagner’s villa in which I was actually standing.

Have I in fact remembered this because of my father’s word, which I borrowed for my own miseries? My “unhappiness,” so I have always been accustomed to think, was the result of my father’s remoteness and my mother’s denial of affection. When my eldest brother died suddenly, and my mother did not transfer any of her feelings for him to me, and my father did not become less aloof, I resolved (that resolution made at some time and for one reason or another by all children) that someday I would “show” them. But now that someday has come and gone, and no one remains to whom it would mean anything to be “shown” whatever is left to show, I myself being the last witness.

* * *

Restored to the present (and to resipiscence, if my “normal” mind can be described that way any more), I went from Triebschen to the Schwann Hotel for tea. (In 1890 it was tea and ratafia in, I think, the Englischeviertel.) Sitting there—where Wagner, not yet amnestied, “followed” with watch in hand the first performance of Lohengrin in Weimar—it seemed impossible that my own childhood could be so far away, and impossible that that world of feeling could be extinct, except in me. Yet not how far away but how close and how real; and how soon that question in answer to which, like Lohengrin, I must disappear myself.

This Issue

April 24, 1969