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1. Horowitz playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" during the Festival of Britain.  Karajan/Philharmonia Concerts (Karajan sometimes on harpsichord in Bach etc.). Following an outstanding Tchaikovsky 2nd Piano Concerto my (non-musical) mother asked Shura Cherkassky: "How can such a small man such as yourself play so well?" Cherkassky replied: "Why not! Do big ones play better?" We became friends for life after great laughter!


2.  Following a concert Emil Gilels, Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting, I handed to Gilels an LP of his Chopin Concerto No. 1 to sign which he graciously did. Then walking over to Sargent's empty table, Sargent said: "Ah well! I can see nobody wants me! I think I'll toddle off home!"  I handed him the Gilels/Philadelphia LP to sign hoping to make Sargent feel "Better and wanted." He looked carefully at the LP cover; then he signed it . . . "Eugene Ormandy"!!! 



3.  (1970s): After a superb Ashkenazy  (former long-term pen friend to me!) concerto performance, I went to his dressing room to enquire why he had received damning reports in the media that Ashkenazy had only "used the Iceland Symphony Orchestra" to practice/study through them to be a conductor."  (After all, Ashkenazy had even taken Icelandic citizenship!) "Yes; that's right!" came Ashkenazxy's reply to my question. "I have offers of (a first-rate orchestra) to conduct at the Festival and so why not! The Icelandic Orchestra isn't in the same league!!!" 'Vlodiya' is the most honest man I have ever met! What a great politician he would have made indeed! (Ashkenazy always knew me 'Samuel Sheldon')           



1979 - Mikhail Pletneyev made his concerto debut at Royal Festival Hall. My girlfriend and I went back to his dressing-room during the interval (he only appeared in Part One of the concert playing the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto). What a charming person we found as we spoke with him after everyone else had left him to return to their seats for Part 2. My own piano teacher had studied with Clara Schumann and we discussed our thoughts together.  Then Pletneyev sat down at his upright piano in his dressing-room and was playing for us the Bach/Busoni "Charconne" when a little Royal Festival Hall backstage usher and shouted: "Kindly stop this racket and get out of this room! You can be heard by the audience outside! You've no business here at this time!!!"


(TRUE STORIES! Each of them) NB Just a handful of many Royal Festival Hall memories!

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