Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Maestro's Muddled Memory

James Taranto captures for the WSJ's Best of the Web column a sterling example of just how ignorant "maestro megalomania" can be. To differentiate the texts, I put Taranto's comments in bold and the lines from the AP story in regular type.

Roll Over Reagan

The New York Philharmonic has gone ahead with its concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, which drew our attention earlier this month. Back then we scored music director Lorin Maazel for hiding behind America's imperfections in refusing to make moral judgments about North Korea's totalitarian regime. In an Associated Press dispatch from Pyongyang, Maazel tries a different tack:

"Before the concert, Maazel said the orchestra has been a force for change in the past, noting that its 1959 performance in the Soviet Union was part of that country's opening up to the outside world that eventually resulted in the downfall of the regime.

"The Soviets didn't realize that it was a two-edged sword, because by doing so they allowed people from outside the country to interact with their own people, and to have an influence," he told journalists in Pyongyang. "It was so long-lasting that eventually the people in power found themselves out of power."

When asked if he thought the same could happen in North Korea, he said: "There are no parallels in history; there are similarities."

Still, he said, the concert could spark other cultural and social exchanges.

"We are very humble. We are here to make music," he said.

Is it possible that, through some sort of delayed reaction, the New York Philharmonic's 1959 appearance helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years later? It seems a stretch, especially since the Berlin Wall wasn't even erected until 1961. Just imagine what kind of outlandish claims Maazel might make if he and the Philharmonic were not so "very humble."