Thursday, January 05, 2012

wet wind anecdotes

Posted by PicasaA leaf and a twig on wet pavement bricks in Tunbridge Wells.

Today the wind is showing off everywhere: above the roofs a flock of crows wheels  in the sun against flying clouds; in the tree tops it makes roaring noises and whips the branches as though trying to snap them off; and over the paths in The Grove dead leaves race like wild children, skip and jump and hurtle round corners.

If you like anecdotes you will find plenty of them in Craig Bown's entertaining One on One about unlikely meetings between famous people (Marlyn Monroe and Nikita Khrushchev, Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin for example). Today I read of the notorious but well documented dinner party attended by, among others, Stravinsky and Marcel Proust on May 19 1922 at the Hôtel Majestic in Paris.  It was notorious because the guests, which also numbered James Joyce and Picasso, did not apparently get on as well as might have been hoped. Proust, placed next to Stravinsky, hoping to flatter, apparently tried to compare the composer to Beethoven, adding, " doubtless you admire Beethoven".
                                "I detest Beethoven".
                                "But chere maître, surely those late sonatas and quartets..."
                                "Worse than the others."
A full account of the dinner is given in the book, A Night at the Majestic by Richard Davenport Hines devoted entirely to it .


tristan said...

i've no doubt that beethoven and stravinsky will spend some portion of their eternities playing duets in whichever heaven the keyholder allocates

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

As I recall the exchange between Proust and Joyce was even shorter and even less enlightening. But then Ulysses took about ten years to write and Time took even longer - nothing to suggest that either of these titans had anything in common with, say, Oscar Wilde whose presence - even in ethereal form - was sadly lacking at this event.

Stravinsky, however, was supposed to be a bit of a soundbite man. On hearing that John Cage had written the piece called (I think) 4 min. 27 seconds which is devoted entirely to a silent piano he is said to have applauded and looked forward to Cage and his admirers going on to "works of major length". But perhaps he just had a more assiduous PR man.

Plutarch said...

According to the Duchesse de Cleremont-Tonnerre (with such a name innaccuricies might be forgiven her)one exchange went as follows:

Proust: I have never read your works, Mr Joyce.
Joyce: I have never read your works Mr Proust.

Brown's book has several more such exchanges between the two writers some of which are excruciatingly pedestrian. The best know is based on Joyce's account years later when he said "Proust would talk only of Duchesses, while I was more concerned with their chambermaids."