A sentimental piano evokes earlier times....
The upright piano used in the 1942 movie classic "Casablanca" was sold at auction last Friday. A decent upright goes for less than $10,000 today; a top one, perhaps $20,000. So, why the $602,500 price?
Sentiment? Surely. But for what?
For a time when America was culturally confident, aware of an epic struggle with supreme evil: Nazism. Then in the Cold War America vanquished the equal genocidal evil of Soviet Communism. Today we face a another comparable evil: revolutionary, atavist, genocidal Islamism.
Yet we lack the cultural confidence of bygone times. We obsess about offending votaries of Islam, no matter how extreme, as if we are somehow at fault when Islamists commit violent acts. And for those of us who remember Bogie's Rick Blaine fondly, this matters. Rick, cynical, embittered, carrying a torch for a lost lover, was sitting out the world war between good & evil. Then, in the nick of time, in crisis, he chose courageously and rightly. Today we are not so sure that we will make the same choice.
But let LFTC depart 2012 on a bright note, from a time when a culturally confident America celebrated artistic greatness (and not the mostly vapid celebrity performers of today's mostly debased artistic scene):
Herewith an epic musical event, a 1951 concert by legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz broadcast live over WQXR in New York City; the second-half recording (52:43) has been posted online. It features Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, plus four encores. The first three are a Domenico Scarlatti E-Major Sonata, Robert Schumann's Traumerei (a Horowitz favorite) & Moritz Moskowski's Sparks, a/k/a Etincelles ("sparks" in French). The final encore is Horowitz's immortal 1945 arrangement of The Stars and Stripes Forever, in which he sustains four singing voices spread over 85 notes, virtually the entire piano 88-key span.
Bottom Line. Let us sing once more: "It's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die...." And let us try, in the coming year, to chose courageously and wisely. And let us celebrate the best in our culture, and thereby begin to reacquire the long-lost, much-missed cultural confidence that is a necessary predicate for American restoration.
Wishing all LFTC readers the very best in the New Year 2013. LFTC will return in the second week of January.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics