Thursday, August 7, 2008

In the beginning....

What I do now is emotionally the same as I did in the beginning. As a child I listened to classical music on the radio. My sister's heros were Elvis and the Beatles. My heros were Beethoven and Toscanini. We had many fights over this. If Toscanini was conducting I was glued to the radio. If my sister was so inclined, the record player was turned up loud to Elvis. Whoever had the greater volume won.

I started considering photography as a profession while still in school. One of my friends asked if I'd like to photograph a reception at the Toscanini Estate. Like??? This would be the same as stepping into a Temple, a religious experience. Ignorance is bliss. My answer was yes without a moment of hesitation. The event being held was to honor the donation of the Toscanini Archives to the Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. May 24, 1964.

I have no memory of getting to the Riverdale Estate. I must have been given a ride. I did not yet have the skills needed to pose people at a social event. My cameras were woefully inadequate, but euphoria can get you through anything. I roamed, watched, took pictures, all while floating on air. One of the house servants must have noticed my happy state and asked, "Would you like to see the Maestro's private quarters?" I simply nodded yes.

I will never forget the feeling, - being in this beautiful Estate, being able to share the importance of this occasion, watching the greats of the music world, - it's not necessary to list here all the dignitaries, - being wrapped in an intensely happy feeling, trying to capture what was going on. The photo results are part of the Toscanini Collection at the Library, but I have not looked at these images since 1964. Now they have meaning- history, a great day, a fabulous home now demolished, Mrs. Vladimir Horowitz, Toscanini's daughter, no longer alive, Walter Toscanini, his son, also no longer alive, Rose Kennedy, now gone, Rose Bampton and her husband, Maestro Giuseppe Bamboschek, no longer alive. But the thought of that afternoon still makes me smile.

The excitement has never vanished. The wish to capture what really matters has never vanished. I know more now, have better equipment, can pose people more efficiently at social gatherings, but still have much to learn. Challenge is fun.


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