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REMEMBERING ALAN SHULMAN
It was with great interest that I read Jay Shulman’s fine article about his father Alan in the July/August issue of Allegro. Alan Shulman was the quintessential musician. He was not only a wonderful cellist in so many ways – from chamber music to orchestra and soloist – but was also an inspiring composer. He and I did many recording and concert dates together. I still remember how close all the fine cellists in New York were with each other, even forming a cellists’ club.
For many years as a CBS staff violinist, one of my schedules was a Sunday broadcast called “The Best of Broadway.” It was an interview show and the panel was made up of four of the best wits in America. One show had Artie Shaw as a guest and CBS asked him to play with our house quartet. The members were me and Joseph Zwillich on violin, Burt Fisch on viola and David Soyer on cello. (David was my brother-in-law and a member of the famous Guarnarius Quartet. It was at David’s house that my wife Sari and I spent time socially with Alan and Sophie.)
Alan had written a work for Benny Goodman and strings called “Rendezvous,” which is a first-class piece of chamber music. It was decided to have Artie play it on the air. Fortunately, the program was recorded and a copy was sent to me. I often play it for young clarinetists to show what could be done with one rehearsal – and what was expected on the job.
MORE MEMORIES OF THE AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE
enjoyed reading last month’s cover story, with reminiscences about the American Ballet Theatre. One of my favorite highlights of playing at ABT was on evenings when the great star Nina Ananiashvili (now retired) danced. She had a fan who would consistently show up with flowers, thrown one at a time, and yell “Nina!! Assoluta!” which is from the designation “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” a somewhat outmoded title for prima ballerinas but also a symbolic term of greatness. This particular fellow had an unmistakable low-pitched, gravelly voice, as from another era, and he would pronounce each syllable slowly and with great import.
I missed the era of Barishnikov, Natalia Makarova, Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, to name a few, but it was always thrilling to witness a true star and to have been part of the performance in some way.