Pierre Monteux, Maître

 

by John Canarina

 

Canarina writes of The Rite of Spring premier in 1913 "In his admirably detailed biography of Stravinsky, Stephen Walsh speaks of 'a sense of unease' before the first performance (as opposed to the public dress rehearsal the night before, which had passed without incident), 'due partly to the complexity of the score, partly to a feeling that Nijinsky and his dancers were not wholly at one with the music or each other, partly perhaps to Diaghilev's own instinct that trouble was in the air' (Walsh 1999, 203). The dress rehearsal, which was only for The Rite of Spring, had been attended by musicians (including Debussy and Ravel), critics, and other cognoscenti. At the actual performance, which was part of a subscription series, The Rite was preceded by Les sylphides and followed by Le spectre de la rose and the Polovtzian Dances from Prince Igor, all traditional ballets that never failed to please an audience. In the midst of these, The Rite (subtitled Pictures of Pagan Russia) could not fail to provoke. Also, advance word was, according to Walsh, that 'the new ballet was difficult, violent, and incomprehensible.' He quotes the composer Florent Schmitt as saying, 'These so-called 'society' people, unable to see, hear and feel for themselves, these grown-up children . . . could only respond to these splendors, so immeasurably remote from their feeble understanding, with the stupid hilarity of infants" (Walsh 1999, 203-4). Murmurs of discontent could be heard soon after the start of the piece, that high-pitched, strained, and tortuous bassoon solo. (Stravinsky once said that if he had known how easy that solo would become for bassoonists, every ten years he would have raised it half a step.) Soon catcalls and other imprecations were heard along with the voices of those trying to quell the disturbance, each side fueling the other. It was a case of the elegant inhabitants of the stalls and the boxes versus the more enthusiastic crowd in the balconies. Shouts were heard of 'A bas les greus du 16eme!' ('Down with the bitches of the sixteenth district!'-the wealthy and fashionable area of Paris). Punches were thrown, and cards were exchanged so that duels could be fought the next day. Complete mayhem reigned. Through all this turmoil Monteux continued to conduct the orchestra, even though at times he could not hear the music at all. Stravinsky later recalled:

I was sitting in the fourth or fifth row on the right and the image of Monteux's back is more vivid in my mind today than the picture of the stage. He stood there apparently impervious and as nerveless as a crocodile. It is still almost incredible to me that he actually brought the orchestra through to the end. I left my seat when the heavy noises began-light noise had started from the very beginning-and went backstage behind Nijinsky in the right wing. Nijinsky stood on a chair, just out of view of the audience, shouting numbers to the dancers. I wondered what on earth these numbers had to do with the music, for there are no 'thirteens' and 'seventeens' in the metrical scheme of the score. (Stravinsky and Craft 1959, 47-48; 2002, 91)

Diaghilev was actually delighted with the chaos, stating that it was exactly what he wanted. (Cynics thought he himself had staged the riot.) According to Monteux the public reaction was the same at each performance, which surprised him, for Parisians usually think of themselves as genuine connoisseurs of the arts . . . " From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

"Monteux related an amusing episode in his personal life at the time that would not be out of place in a Charlie Chaplin film. He lived uptown [Manhattan] and thought it would be convenient to have a car to take him to and from the Opera House, as many of his colleagues did, rather than rely on public transportation. Accordingly, he bought a Ford touring car for $300. Always early for rehearsals, he would be the first to park his car behind the theater. Next would come Caruso in a handsome chauffeur-driven Pierce-Arrow, then usually Gatti-Casazza's equally impressive vehicle, followed by those of other high-ranking members of the company. In the presence of these luxurious behemoths Monteux's car 'looked like an insignificant baby-carriage,' and he was not unaware of the disdainful looks of chauffeurs as he cranked the Ford himself. One day, as he was driving along Eighth Avenue, there was a gasp from the engine, then a small explosion, after which the car stopped completely near the curb. Monteux got out, politely tipped his hat to it, and walked away, never to return for it (D. Monteux 1965, 108)" This happened in the Nineteen-teens when Monteux was conducting the Met. From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

In his Pierre Monteux, Maître, John Canarina writes about one of the many "suitable dates" in our history that were never found "Also of interest is a program that did not take place. During his Los Angeles visit, Monteux became acquainted with the work of the African American tap dancer Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, well known through his many motion picture appearances. So impressed was Monteux with Robinson's artistry and agility that he proposed an appearance for him with the Los Angeles Philharmonic if a suitable date could be found-otherwise he would perform in San Francisco. As quoted in the Pasadena Post of 8 December 1935, Monteux said of Robinson, 'He expresses as much beauty with his feet as a singer does with his voice. I am happy to be the one to introduce him as a classical artist.'

The prospect of Robinson's tap dancing to the great works of the masters brought a great deal of apprehension to the traditionalists among Los Angeles music lovers, but Isabel Morse Jones praised the idea in the Los Angeles Times of 15 December 1935. Her article emphasized the importance of rhythm in music and went on to say that a few years earlier, Maud Allan had managed to dance aimlessly to Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetique' Symphony with no attention whatsoever to the work's rhythm, and that the public accepted it because it was thought to be highbrow art. She continued that Monteux believed rhythm was an important factor in American life and was impressed with the possibility of experimentation involving music and dance. Besides, Jones wrote, Robinson's sense of humor was something everyone could appreciate, and that combination of humor and rhythm was something the Philharmonic could use a little more of. She further felt that such a program could be beneficial in bringing about a better relationship between the Philharmonic and the general public. As might be expected, however, a suitable date could not be found for this program." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

"In 1936 the school moved, without the orchestra, to Monteux's summer home in the village of Les Baux (so named because of the presence of bauxite in the area) in Provence. The French composer Marcel Landowski (1915-2000), a pupil there, described Monteux's teaching:

His teaching methods were unpretentious. The student arrived at Monteux's with scores in hand. Every student had to be able to sing the various parts pretty much by heart, in the absence of orchestra or even piano. Monteux followed attentively, and he readily interrupted when a point of difficulty arose for conductor or instrumentalist. He prepared the musical terrain note for note.

His instruction began with memory exercises, as a step to thorough knowledge of the score. A second run-through would then analyze its structures and scrutinize its layout. As his sacred maxim went: "One must have the score in one's head, not one's head in the score." [This remark has frequently been attributed to both Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. It is apparently one of those sayings the exact origin of which remains unknown. l

This method encouraged a critical approach to works and discouraged any ambition for showy effects (such as "here come the trombones"). We students were ready to face an orchestra only after having worked out each nuance of the score, and not until we were able to reconstitute its structure mentally. Monteux had an extraordinary musical memory. Each of his directions took the totality of the score into account, and each, however small, had a purpose. He was at ease with the present because he had the wisdom and the humility to explore the past. (Landowski 1994)

When possible, four-hand piano arrangements of symphonies and other orchestral works were used for the conducting classes, and Monteux's sister-inlaw Hilda Davis was often one of the pianists." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

"A letter from Pierre Monteux to Doris, his wife, from Philadelphia, 23 July 1942:

Well, when I come back to you, you will have a little less to do as I can always make the bed, get the wood and water and even make the breakfast. I will have to flaner [lounge about] less, because I will have pupils and scores to learn. I think I will buy Mathis der Maler records, that will help me. As for the 7th of Shostakovich, it will not be recorded on time for me to learn it. And the symphonies of [David] Diamond and William Schuman are not recorded. That will give me a lot of work!! This is a surprising indication that Monteux did rely on recordings, when avail able, to help him learn unfamiliar works, especially when pressed for time. The same can undoubtedly be said about many other conductors, even when they are not pressed for time, and in some cases even with familiar pieces."

From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

Pierre Monteux was a guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic in the mid-forties. John Canarina observes ". . . here is the esteemed Virgil Thomson writing in the 12 November 1944 Herald Tribune, in a Sunday article summing up Monteux's visit, quite possibly the most celebrated and perceptive appreciation of Monteux's work to have appeared in print.

Pierre Monteux's two-week visit as guest conductor of the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra has led music lovers of all schools (the critical press included) to two conclusions: namely, that this conductor has drawn from our orchestra more beautiful sounds and more beautiful mixtures of sounds than any other conductor has done in many years, and that his readings of Brahms are highly refreshing. It has been a long time, a very long time, since our Philharmonic sounded like an orchestra.

Thomson goes on to describe the inconsistency of the orchestra's playing over the years, and how such conductors as Toscanini and Rodzinski had produced fine results without any particularly distinctive quality of sound. He continues:

It has remained for Pierre Monteux to achieve what many of us thought was hopeless. He has made the Philharmonic play with beauty of tone, many kinds of it, and with perfect balance and blending-to sound, in short, like an orchestra, a first-class orchestra requiring no apology. And he has also played music as familiar as that of Brahms and Beethoven (not to speak of Debussy) with not only a wonderful beauty of sound but a far from usual eloquence as well. His is the way a real orchestra should sound, the way the first-class orchestras of the world all do sound. And this is the way many musicians have long wished the music of Johannes Brahms could be made to sound.

It should be mentioned here that Brahms was far from being one of Thomson's favorite composers. Thomson then compares Monteux's Brahms performances with those of the late Frederick Stock with the Chicago Symphony. He finds that

Mr. Monteux is less expert than Dr. Stock was at preserving a poetical and rhythmic unity throughout, but he is more expert than anybody at lifting the velvet pall that is accustomed in our concerts to lie over the Brahms instrumentation and allowing everything, middle voices too, to shine forth with translucency. His strings never obscure the woodwinds. His trumpets and trombones never blast away the strings. His horns, when force is indicated, play very loud; but their loudness is bright, not heavy; it is a flash of light rather than a ton of bricks.

Although he finds some fault with Monteux's occasionally allowing the slower passages in Brahms and Debussy to go dead, the animation disappearing, the sounds not blending, Thomson observes that such moments are never long and concludes:

Listening lately to Pierre Monteux conduct Brahms and Debussy on the same program brought to mind how much the music of these two composers is alike, or at least demands like treatment. The secret of their rhythm is very much the same secret. And non-violation of their rhythm is essential and preliminary to producing among their orchestral sounds luminosity. That and the use of transparent, or non weighty, orchestral tone. By what occult methods Mr. Monteux produces in our Philharmonic- Symphony Orchestra a real community of rhythmic articulation, not to mention the delights of delicate balance and blending that proceed from this, I cannot even guess. The guest conductors who have failed where he has succeeded would like to know too, I imagine.

(Thomson 1981, 258-60)" From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 



"A few words about Monteux's seating of the string section of an orchestra,. . . He was of a generation in which most conductors divided the violins, with the first and second sections on opposite sides of the podium. He believed, with Toscanini, that the violins were the shoulders of an orchestra. This seating arrangement is especially valuable in the many classical and romantic works in which the violins have antiphonal passages. At the same time, the cellos and violas fan out to the left and right of the conductor, respectively, with the double basses also on the left behind the cellos, or sometimes stretched at the rear of the orchestra facing the audience.

As Monteux advanced in his career, many conductors began grouping the first and second violins together to the left of the podium, with the cellos and basses on the right. The violas managed always to be on the right side, sometimes on the edge of the stage with the cellos inside, sometimes inside with the cellos on the edge. The rationale for grouping the violins together is that all the instruments' 'f' holes are facing the audience, so that the second violins are also projecting their sound out into the hall. Also, the two sections can function more as a unit if they are together rather than separated. Overlooked is the fact that when the seconds are on the same side as the firsts, they are farther away from the audience and thus are heard merely as a shadow of the firsts. When the seconds are on the right side, regardless of the direction of their 'f' holes, they are heard more distinctly.

When Monteux conducted orchestras that normally grouped the two violin sections together, such as the Boston Symphony in the 1950s and 1960s, he always separated them. This meant that the violas played on the left side, next to the first violins. The cellos and basses he left on the right because, as he said, 'You cannot turn the whole orchestra upside down.' " From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

"RCA Victor took advantage of Monteux's return [to Boston] to record the The Rite and [in 1951] produced the finest of Monteux's four versions of the piece, one that remains a classic to this day. Along with the composer's own renditions, it is surely the touchstone reading of this landmark of twentieth-century music. While other versions (Leonard Bernstein's, Igor Markevitch's, and Georg Solti's) may surpass it in terms of visceral energy or personalized interpretation, Monteux's remains the classic account in terms of projecting what is written in the score, so that all the elements-savage, mysterious, sensuous, rhythmic, and Iyrical-are presented in proper proportion. Everything unfolds naturally, as always in a Monteux performance, with no lack of excitement." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

This recording was released the States in 1951 as RCA Victor Red Seal LM 1149 and RCA Victor Red Seal set WDM 1548. The British release was HMV FALP 294 and the Italian RCA A 12 R 0080. I have recently listened to the '70s French release, RCA GM 43274. Benefiting from more accurate transfer and cutting technology, it is what Canarina writes and more. Ron Penndorf

 

 

 

"It was during this twoweek engagement [in January 1960] that he and the orchestra made two further recordings for RCA Victor, a beautiful rendition of the Siegfried Idyll and a shattering version of Death and Transfiguration. Though made in 1960, these recordings were not issued until 1965, a year after Monteux's death. Apparently there were reservations at the time about the Strauss, having to do with technical matters concerning the sound and the orchestral balance. Heard today, such limitations are barely noticeable, if at all, and Monteux's conception of the piece, his favorite Strauss tone poem, is truly exceptional, a performance of great sweep and emotional impact, all pointing to the work's one true climax, magnificently realized. Eight years had elapsed since Monteux's last recording with the San Francisco Symphony, and the Wagner and Strauss works stand as his only stereo recordings with that orchestra." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

The Strauss Death and Transfiguration was released on the budget RCA Victrola label as VIC/VICS 1457. The Wagner Siegfried Idyll was first released of Victrola VIC/VICS 1102 coupled with a Beethoven Fourth Symphony and later on VIC/VICS 1457 with the Strauss. Ron Penndorf

 

 

 

"Monteux's recording contract was with RCA Victor, which in the late 1950s began a partnership with English Decca (then known as London Records in the United States) whereby the two companies would collaborate on recordings with each other's artists. Under this arrangement, in June 1957 Monteux made his first recording with the LSO, excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. . . . In January 1958 Monteux recorded that quintessential English masterwork, Elgar's Enigma Variations, also with the LSO. This is one of the truly great recordings of that work, along with those of Toscanini and Beecham. English orchestras are known for their ability to play very softly, and the string playing at the beginning of the 'Nimrod' Variation has to be heard to be believed, a pianissimo of near inaudibility, and not achieved through recording trickery.

During [the 1958 visit] two further recordings were made, the Brahms Violin Concerto, but with Henryk Szeryng rather than Francescatti (since the latter was under contract to Columbia Records at the time), and Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn, which would be issued together with the Enigma Variations. Both recordings reveal Monteux's great sympathy with the music of Brahms.

Monteux was re-engaged for more concerts and recordings in March and April 1959. Earlier in the year he rerecorded one of the classics from his San Francisco years, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, with the LSO's leader, Hugh Maguire, playing the violin solos. (In English musical parlance, the leader is the equivalent of the concertmaster in the United States.) Maguire recently recalled that Monteux was 'not always the most inspiring conductor' but was technically impeccable.

In a conversation I had with the French pianist-conductor Philippe Entremont, he mentioned that on the same day that Scheherazade was recorded, he recorded Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Monteux and the LSO, a version that was never released and that still remains in Decca's vaults. Entremont was under contract to Columbia Records at the time, but he was dissatisfied with the arrangements and was given permission to make this recording for Decca. He later recorded the work with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. A Monteux LSO concert performance with John Ogdon was released posthumously, so a Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto is not lacking from either Entremont or Monteux. Still, it would be good to have this one, if it actually still exists.

The major work performed in Monteux's 1959 London concerts was the complete score of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, with the Chorus of the Royal Opera House participating. The senior producer for Decca at the time was John Culshaw (1924-1980), who, in his book Putting the Record Straight, has described his pleasure in working with Monteux, who told him 'how much he would like to record a complete Daphnis and Chloe in London.' He had chosen to do exactly the opposite of most conductors: he had never recorded the Suite No. 2, and had, in San Francisco, recorded the Suite No. 1.

Culshaw relates that 'RCA was only too glad to hand over some of its obligation to Monteux' to Decca, for RCA felt that his records did not sell well, 'by which,' says Culshaw, 'I think it meant that they did not sell in such quantities as those conducted by Stokowski, Ormandy and Reiner, to say nothing of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops.'

The Decca salespeople were not keen on the Daphnis project and stated that they would agree only if the nearly-sixty-minute work could be accommodated on one LP. This was accomplished, and, said Culshaw:

It is, and always will be, one of my favorite records, not simply because it happens to be conducted by the man who had been responsible for its premiere, but because of the way he treated the music, which was to relate each part to its context and to see the work as a whole. Thus he did not allow the climax of the great Lever du jour to become so powerful that there was nothing in reserve when he came to the climaxes at the end of the work.

Culshaw speaks of comparable results in the Enigma Variations, where Monteux

would not allow the Nimrod variation, of which most conductors make such a meal, to overshadow the finale; and as a result that finale, which for years has been dismissed as cheap, vulgar and unworthy of the rest of the work, became a fitting climax to the work. (Culshaw 1981, 208-9)

Other recordings in 1959 were of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1, with the young American Julius Katchen as soloist; Dvorak's Seventh Symphony; and Sibelius's Second Symphony. The Dvorak is an especially captivating performance, one that simply flows naturally from beginning to end. Monteux was originally scheduled to record and perform Sibelius's First Symphony, but for some reason the Second was done instead. Additionally, recordings of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony and Overture to The Magic Flute were planned, but did not come to fruition." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

"The great Spanish cellist and conductor Pablo Casals (1876-1973) was in London at that time [in late 1963] to conduct a performance of his oratorio El pesebre (The Manger) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Monteux and Casals had known each other for many, many years; it seems that all the great musicians of the first half of the twentieth century knew each other. Leonard Rose was instrumental, along with Isaac Stern and their trio partner Eugene Istomin, in arranging a late night dinner for Casals and his young wife Marta at the Westbury Hotel following the performance of [Strauss'] Don Quixote, which Casals had not attended. The dinner was actually intended as a surprise meeting of Casals and Monteux, who had not seen each other for quite some time. It was a great success; to the delight of their hosts, the two octogenarians reminisced about music and musicians and their own experiences far into the early hours of the morning." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

 

 

"In February 1964 the Monteuxs were in Hamburg, where Pierre was to make a series of recordings with the Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks (North German Radio Symphony Orchestra), with which he had already recorded Beethoven's Second and Fourth Symphonies in 1960. David Zinman was not present on this occasion; his place was taken by another gifted pupil, Erich Kunzel, who has since gained fame as the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra as well as being in charge of pops concerts with many major orchestras.

Kunzel has mentioned that these recordings were, unusually, not connected with public concerts, and that he sat directly in front of Monteux during the sessions. Recorded by the Swiss firm TONO, they were subsequently released on the Concert Hall label. While the repertoire consisted of some works that Monteux had previously recorded (the Symphonie fantastique, and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony), there was also a sizable chunk of works new to his discography. Of special interest among these are Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 35 and 39 and a group of orchestral excerpts from Wagner operas: the Overture to The Flying Dutchman, the Overture and Bacchanale from Tannhäuser, and the Prelude and "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde. The Mozart works are the only symphonies by that composer ever recorded commercially by Monteux, and very stylish his readings are, the finale of No. 35 (the "Haffner") rather impish in its touches of humor. Unusually, Monteux observed both repeats in the slow movement, something he did not do in his concert performances. As for the Wagner recordings, his only ones of that composer's music except for the Siegfried Idyll in San Francisco, they, too, are finely characterized, with flowing tempos and great excitement where required.

The other works recorded were the Overture and Adagio from Beethoven's Prometheus ballet music and a Russian collection: Borodin's Polovtzian Dances from Prince Igor, Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol, and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet; the latter was especially ardent for someone in his eighty-ninth year. They are excellent performances, though shorn of all repeats except in the scherzo movements, no doubt ,so that each would fit on one side of an LP. The orchestra is less than top rank, but as with San Francisco the performances transcend its limitations. What actually compromises the entire series is the quality of the recorded sound, which is the opposite of what would be obtained with a compressor, though equally objectionable. Here the loud passages are very much so, very forward, while the soft passages are very distant. Obviously someone's hand was on the controls at all times, and it is possible that at this stage of his life and career, Monteux was not overly concerned with the final results. He may not even have been consulted about them." From John Canarina's Pierre Monteux, Maître.

 

In the early 1940s, RCA's Red Seal division recorded the San Francisco Symphony under Pierre Monteux at the War Memorial Opera House. Of these sessions the producer Charles O'Connell writes

"As for the technical difficulties and the absence of portable recording equipment it was decided that we would record simultaneously in two ways-first, over an equalized telephone circuit between the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco and our studios in Hollywood, four hundred miles away, where the actual cutting discs would be done. This special telephone line was already in existence, and was often used by the National Broadcasting Company. . . . Then, as a safety measure, we arranged to record simultaneously on sound film, bringing a sound truck from Hollywood and driving it directly onto the stage of the War Memorial Opera House.

I considered this precaution necessary because of the possibilities of interruption to the telephone circuit which, however momentary they might be, would utterly ruin any recording. . . . to my surprise and pleasure I found that the film recording, when transferred to disc, was distinctly superior to the direct recording made via telephone line. The first recordings of the San Francisco Orchestra, therefore (César Franck's Symphony, D'Indy's Symphony on a French Mountain Air, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, and several other works), were the first symphonic recordings issued by Victor that were primarily made on sound-film and later transferred to disc records."

So it seems that some twenty years before Mercury recorded on 35mm film, the RCA Red Seal division used this medium, and that forty years before the introduction of laser retrieval from CD, RCA used optical coding for its 35mm film recording. I've heard some of the 78 RPM sets of Pierre Monteux and the San Francisco Symphony that were recorded in this way, and the sound is very, very good. RCA also seems to have had a mobile recording unit long before Mercury-albeit a rented one.

Charles O'Connell's remarks can be found in his slim volume The Other Side
of the Record--originally published by Knopf in 1947.

Ron Penndorf

 

From long ago Herb Caen

"The San Franciscan of today is more interested, for instance, in the exploits of a Pierre Monteux than in the socialite descendants of the florid, hard-hitting millionaires who left their stamp on the city in the form of gingerbread mansions and ever-fading legends.

At seventy-three, the bouncy, bubbly little maestro of the San Francisco Symphony is richly enjoyed by thousands who never attend a concert. With his thick mane of black hair and his white Santa Claus mustache, he is a daily sight to see as he walks his French poodle, Fifi, around the Fairmont Hotel. Delighted passersby on the California cable car are likely to lean out from their perches and shout "Hiya, maestro!" or even, if they're among the cognoscenti, "Yoo-hoo, Chummy" -- that, for reasons unknown to the management, being his nickname. Chummy obligingly answers any and all public greetings with a Gallic wave of his arm, a bow of his leonine head, and voilà! more admiring non-attenders for the San Francisco Symphony.

In 1948 the amazingly vital M. Monteux conducted one hundred and fifty-three concerts -- more than any other major conductor in the country. His Symphony records sold so widely and steadily that his annual royalties from them alone totaled $40,000. He scampers out onto the stage of the Opera House at such a furious rate that there has been some talk among Symphony directors of banking the sharp turn from the rear of the stage to his podium.

In fact, I've been able to detect only two small signs of approaching age in the redoubtable maestro. A small step has been affixed to the podium to allow him to mount it more easily. And now, when he conducts from a score, which is seldom, he wears glasses.

Even his wife, Doris, an equally energetic person, is unable to explain this perpetual youth. 'Maybe,' she ventures, 'it's because he eats a plateful of oysters, washed down with champagne, after each concert.' With more than one hundred and fifty concerts on the agenda each year, you can see that M. Monteux makes deeper inroads into the oyster world than even the pearl industry.

Incidentally, Mme. Monteux is a woman of almost limitless capabilities. Along with acting as her husband's manager, press agent, and one-woman claque, she is an indefatigable speech maker on any subject you'd care to mention. One day in 1946 I followed her with awe and admiration as she spoke on 'Medicine in Russia' at the San Francisco Breakfast Club; 'Commercial Aspects of Music' at Mills College; and 'Football and Football Coaches'at St. Ignatius High School.

Mme. Monteux is also a patron of the arts, to the point where the Monteux apartment in the Fairmont is crammed with paintings by young San Francisco artists struggling to get ahead. Her special pet was the now successful Tom Lewis, who was 'discovered' by Mme. Monteux working away in a tiny Montgomery Street garret.

After she had already bought a stack of Lewis's paintings, Mme. Monteux insisted on taking her husband up to Lewis's studio. There, she made the young painter display one after another of his works, and each time she would turn to the maestro and murmur: 'Isn't that wonderful?' And each time Monteux would nod: 'Yes, it's beautiful, but--'

At last his wife demanded: 'Chummy, why do you always say It's beautiful, but'?' 'Because,' twinkled Monteux, 'if I don't say `but' you'll want to buy it!'"

To be continued

return

next