A classical music program that includes works by Haydn may not strike you as radical. After all Haydn--friend of Mozart, teacher of Beethoven--virtually invented the classical symphony as we know it. When newcomers think "classical music," it is probably the sounds of Haydn they hear in their head.
A nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn he was not. Bobby Fischer, though Jewish and from Brooklyn, was not nice at all.
In fact, the American chess prodigy--who made international headlines when he defeated the Russian reigning chess king Boris Spassky, in 1972--was a rabid anti-semite, anti-American, and basically all around bigot. Many talented celebrities are known for having vile prejudices but few, perhaps none, have become more famous for them.
This week I wrote about Mark Kurlansky's seemingly strange inclusion in "Haiti Noir," a collection of short stories written mostly by Haitians. You're not wrong for wondering whether Kurlansky's Haitian--he's not--but he did once have a long career reporting from the island in the 1980s. But the story begs the question, are there other good Jewish Haitian stories we should know about?
The star pianist Yefim Bronfman performs in New York often, but I have never seen him. That was rectified last night: I caught him in the first of three concerts with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. He was remarkable. Performing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, he captured the full range of emotions in the piece--its subtle bits of humor, the breezy wistfulness, the heroic ambition--without drawing much attention to himself.
This week I reported on the role Jews played in the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King. It's a fascinating story, and one that many people I interviewed told me remains poorly understood. Often it's reduced to a glib one-liner: Jews supported him, a line captured best by the iconic image of rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel walking with King in from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
Wars are never pretty. They're even uglier in the Middle East, where the lines between conflict and quiet are always in flux. The images that greet us daily from the Muslim world are the most glaring; the endless rampage of hate-fueled violence makes you sick. Forget about the millions who are cowed into silence; even more abhorrent is the constant stream of popular support violence receives. Just look at The New York Times' front page story today on the many respe
George Eliot and Umberto Eco were smitten with Isaac Casaubon, perhaps Renaissance Europe's leading man of letters, both writing novels inspired by him. It's obvious why: he was a bibliophile whose love for the classics, literature and art were matched only by the influence he once held: a revered scholar in France, an advisor to King James in England.