Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Bill Clinton

President William J. Clinton

An acquaintance from my years living in Houston, Texas, attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and he told of meeting then-Governor Bill Clinton twice during a two-year period and shared a couple of observations.

First, the encounters didn’t last much more than five minutes and this individual was one of thousands Clinton would have met during his years of leadership. Yet during the repeat visit, the former Governor/President remembered his name and had phenomenal eye contact and listening skills.

Bill Clinton had more than the usual number of admirers and detractors. Historian David McCullough considered Clinton one incredibly brilliant thinker while another historian, Christopher Hichens, labeled him a habitual liar.

As with every other former president and just about everyone else, William Jefferson Clinton was and is a complicated individual.


A quote from Oscar Wilde: “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”

Author/notorious wit Dorothy Parker penned the following lines:

“By the time you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying-
Lady make a note of this:
One of you is lying.”

So as not to end on a totally cynical note, I once read that the mother of novelist W. Somerset Maugham was one of the most beautiful women in London society while his father was very homely. When his mother was asked by her social friends why she ever married him, let alone stayed married to him, she replied, “Because he’s never said an unkind word to me!”

The Little Church Around the Corner

A 1940s Columbia Records 78 set, The Little Church Around The Corner (Columbia C-169, four 10 inchdiscs), contains eight sides of religious music ranging from Bach, Mendelssohn and Bizet to such hymns as All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name and Now the Day is Over. The selections are performed by this New York City Church’s Choir, soloists and organist Franklin Coates.

The Here Comes the Bride Chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin is given the most beautiful performance I have ever heard, the voices and organ blending exquisitely in presenting music that has been so insufferably corny on most every other recording.

Since its founding in 1848, the Church has been a sanctuary for African-Americans and so many others among the poor and oppressed where, within its walls, rich and poor worshipped and fellowshipped on an equal basis. In 1850, the Church moved from East 24th to its present location at East 29th and the building has been enlarged considerably since then. Its official name is the Church of the Transfiguration but it has generated more affection and financial support from the thousands who have visited there.

Wilhelm Furtwangler

Wilhelm Furtwangler

A ten LP set, Deutsche Grammophon 2721202, Das Vermachtnis – (The Legacy) – Wilhelm Furtwangler, contains studio recordings and broadcasts of Maestro Furt­wangler conducting the Berlin Philhar­monic in symphonies and other orchestral works from Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Brahms, Bruckner, Richard Strauss and the conductor himself. A record of interviews with the conductor from between 1950 to 1954, the year of his death, is missing.

I have found it difficult to put into words what made Furtwangler one of the most divinely inspired conductors who ever lived. He gave performances in which precision of phrasing, instead of precision of rhythm like other great conductors of his generation, was the key quality.

Instead of confusing readers further, I would suggest looking up one or more of the many YouTubes of the Maestro, relaxing at the computer and letting the performance happen.

Two special favorites on this set are the live May 25, 1947, Beethoven 5th Symphony and the studio May 14, 1953, Schumann 4th Symphony, which had a ferocious power and beauty from its first note to its last.

Both performances can be heard on YouTube.


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