Immortal Music

I remember clearly my childhood impression that musicians aged far better than average. 1940s and 1950s culture had old folks as old: doter, totter; but there would be Arturo Toscanini, in a halo of white hair, his baton held gracefully, steadily. Casey Stengel shambled through baseball, getting older and foggier while everyone else in baseball stayed, seemed, younger and younger. But in music: Reiner, Kousevitski … those guys went on and on.

Arturo Toscanini

Related: Ruth St. Denis was still dancing. Picasso was still painting. But musicians, especially classical musicians, seemed never to age. Like wine in a bottle.

Ruth St. Denis

Someone could do stats. I’m sure someone has.

But today I see an obit: a celebrated cellist finally checked out: at age 95.

Alas, in jazz, the opposite too often applied: geniuses turned junkies before they were out of their teens!

Editing this, moments after publishing it, adding pix: I’m ravished, utterly ravished. I added the pic of Toscanini, then decided see what I could find on Ruth St. Denis. You see I remember her vividly at Jacob’s Pillow as a relic. But of course I’d never actually seen any of her young gypsies. But now, there she is! Christ!

PS. My beloved Catherine checked out at 96; but few saw her halo, and she had never held the baton steadily. She’d been herself though right up till toward the end of 95. At 96 she was no longer Catherine: and relieved to leave.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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