Yes, I’m still knocking out pieces–on tap for today is a review of Robert McCrum’s Wodehouse–but the post-vacation me is keeping an even strain, and so far I show no immiment signs of blowing any fuses prior to my departure for Chicago on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed.
When I’m really busy, one of my cunning new sanity-maintenance techniques is to spend my off hours (or, in this case, minutes) reading a book that’s totally unrelated to the pieces I’m writing. This time around it’s Richard Osborne’s Herbert von Karajan: A Life in Music, the best biography ever written of an orchestral conductor, and an incredibly good read even if you’re not a Karajan fan. It’s full of tasty nuggets, two of which I want to pass on to you before I return to the grindstone. First, a snippet that will be making its way sooner or later into my next book:
Karajan was obsessed by rhythmic accuracy. He once told the Vienna Philharmonic that he was going to hear a concert by Louis Armstrong. “Imagine!” he exclaimed. “Two hours of music, and never once will it slow down or speed up by mistake.”
The second is a remark about Karajan made by his first wife: “Certainly, he was not a man who would do anything foolish for a woman.”
You can say a lot about Herbert von Karajan, and Osborne does–his book is 851 pages long–but in the end, I doubt you could say anything about his personality more revealing than that.