Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy 19th!!

Robert Schumann's Blumenstück, op 19, performed by Sviatoslav Richter.

Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter (March 20 1915 – August 1, 1997) was a Soviet pianist well known for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique, and vast repertoire. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.

Mr. Richter's relationship with the Soviet leadership was ambiguous. He was no dissident, though in 1960 he performed (on an old upright piano) at the funeral of his friend, the censured author Boris Pasternack, an act that took courage at the time. Afterward several of Mr. Richter's planned tours to the United States and England were canceled, including appearances in London and at the Edinburgh Festival in 1962. Ill health was given as the reason, but it was rumored that Soviet officials were worried about his emotional stability.

There are intense pressures on members of a group not to support an outcast, thereby heightening the isolation of the outcast. Independent-minded people will be depicted as emotionally unstable in any authoritarian regime.

Incidentally, notice the melodic similarity to Schumann's Pictures from the East, op. 66, a much later piece (below).


Gary Freedman said...

I believe I have been under surveillance by persons at the D.C. law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. I formed that belief in late October 1988, about seven months after I started working at the firm as an agency-supplied temporary in early March 1988. I was 34 years old at that time.

On Columbus Day 1988 -- a firm holiday -- I went to my office at Akin Gump. Incidentally, Christopher Columbus had been a boyhood hero of mine. I admired the tenacity of his original thinking in the face of disbelief. I stayed at the office the entire day. I brought a suitcase full of books with me. I set about typing an autobiographical sketch, "The Caliban Complex: An Attempt at Self Analysis." The undertaking took me the entire day to complete. And, yes, I admit it: I used the firm's photocopier to make three copies of the completed document.

I sent copies of the document to three people I had worked with in the Computer Applications Department at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where I had served a temporary assignment from mid-September 1985 to late February 1988. I sent one copy to Craig W. Dye, one to Daniel D. Cutler, Esq. and another to Michael J. Wilson, Esq. (now a partner at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius). I remember the note I appended to Michael Wilson's copy: "I never had any psychoanalytic training, but then, neither did Sigmund Freud."

Some time after I sent out copies of my autobiographical sketch, I noticed a hubbub at Akin Gump, where I worked. I didn't make anything of it. But I noted it. One afternoon, I heard Earl L. Segal, Esq. -- the partner in charge of Akin Gump's paralegal program -- say in a loud tone of voice outside my office door to the tax attorney David Hardee, Esq., who occupied an office near me: "He's mentally unbalanced. At about the same time I happened to see firm partner David Callett, Esq. on New Hampshire Avenue, near Akin Gump's office; he looked at me with marked disdain. David Callett was a Penn State graduate (like Earl Segal and I) and was one of the senior partners for the client Eastern Airlines. I worked on a document production task for Eastern Airlines at that time, and I had introduced myself to David Callett in June 1988 when I was hired as an Akin Gump temporary employee.

Gary Freedman said...

I'm sure the KGB attended Pasternak's funeral with a video camera -- tracking down every last person who attended!

These regimes and their videos!