Feb. 1, 1942: The Times serializes Hallett Abend’s “Japan Unmasked.” Abend (d. 1955) was The Times city editor from 1920 to 1924 and was later a Far East correspondent for the New York Times. (Note: An interesting line from his obituary: “He had been living in recent weeks with a longtime friend, Morgan Craig.” A little digging reveals that Craig was not a longtime friend. He was Abend’s son. Oops. )
When I waxed hot and angry because of my own certainties, and offered bets at odds that we would be at war with Japan by Christmas of 1941, I was looked at pityingly for a fool.
The Werner Janssen Orchestra premieres Igor Stravinsky’s “Danses Concertantes,” his first work composed in the United States. As is often the case, The Times clips are a mixed blessing. The concert was covered, which is good, but it was reviewed by longtime critic Isabel Morse Jones, whose mangled review of a “Don Giovanni” performance is one of the most unintentionally humorous critiques I have ever read.
The woman who thought the Don got his way with women all through Mozart’s opera (sorry, no, that’s part of the joke) does not disappoint with lines like:
Stravinsky’s conducting is an aid to the audience as well as the orchestra. It, too, is streamlined and watching him, one is reminded that it is the merest chance that he wasn’t a dancer instead of the most important modern composer to write music for the ballet.
Jimmie Fidler says: After seven years as a 20th Century-Fox star, Jane Withers is leaving that studio to freelance. I doff my bonnet to Jane (and her manager-mamma) for pluck shown in making this move. I know she was offered a huge salary to stay on and in current times it takes nerve to turn down a sure thing.
Um, Stravinsky just didn’t compose for ballet. She does seem a little out of her element.
@Mary: Reading her stuff is painful and she was at The Times for years. She was a violinist, so I would expect her to be more informed. Music criticism in this era is generally dreadful.
The writer left a comma out of the reviewer’s Stravinsky quote. The sentence, and sentiment, makes perfect sense if you’ve ever seen Stravinsky conduct. Mary, where does the reviewer say that Stravinsky “just” wrote for ballet?
@Tmangan: I took it to indicate that Stravinsky studied dance at some point in his career — that would have been interesting… As I recall, the general consensus is that Stravinsky was not the best conductor of his music. I never had the opportunity to see him conduct… I have listened to recordings of him rehearsing an orchestra — but it has been a long time and I don’t recall the details now.
Re Jimmie Fidler’s column:
1. George Brent’s boat, the Santana, got another engine, because she was painted grey and assigned coastal patrol duty by the U.S. Navy during WW2. Later, Humphrey Bogart owned and raced her, based in Newport Beach. The Santana is now in San Francisco. [Source: SI Vault article 7/20/81]
2. Tony Martin and Lana Turner costarred in Ziegfeld Girl .