When I was in college studying music, my career plan was to become The Next Legend of The Concert Hall. I had studied the competition, and I knew that Horowitz and Rubenstein, my main competitors, couldn’t live forever. When they died, the management agencies would be looking for fresh meat, errr, I mean talent, and I would be ready and waiting.
I might actually have been about half as good as I thought at the time.
During the summer of my junior year, I took a week off to attend a music festival in a neighboring city. It promised to be a pretty big deal, with a couple of important critics attending, and all the usual vampires and Klingons.
James Peters, a man with a horribly appropriate name, was a well known pianist in those days. He had managed to get a wealthy widow to turn loose of a huge chunk of change by comforting her in her old age.
He used his ill gotten gain to buy a ghost town in east Texas and start up what he called an ongoing music festival out in the middle of nowhere. It was an ongoing festival, all right. They even managed to make some music occasionally, when they could pull themselves off each other.
Well, this year Maestro Peters brought the festival to Louisiana, looking for fresh talent and money, all of which was flocking to him.
The first night of the festival, to kick things off, James presented a solo piano program. They had rented a historic cathedral for the occasion, and it was all really beautiful. The sky blue ceiling of the cathedral matched perfectly the blue hair of the matrons in fur coats who had come out to watch the boys play.
As I sat down, George Kramer, the head of the local Community Concerts Association, sat down beside me.
I didn’t know him that well(yet), but of course I didn’t mind.
He didn’t waste much time. Poor man, he kept losing track of his hands, which would sort of wander over of their own accord to my crotch and start doing creative things there. At one point I called it to his attention, and he pulled his hand back in, for a minute or two. To this day, there’s a certain Grieg Nocturne that I can’t hear without recalling Georges wandering hand.
He was pretty good though, if I do say so.
All the really heavy schmoozing, of course, was set to take place after the concert, where we would all compete for the attention of the visiting bigwigs. Somehow or other I wound up riding with George to the reception.
Alone in the car together, he made his big move.
He was pretty sure he could arrange an audition and maybe even a scholarship to the Roundtree Festival. If I’d like to drive there with him, he would set it up with James, with whom he was a close friend. Of course, since it was a longish drive, it would require at least one overnight stay at a motel, two if we drove slowly enough.
At this point his hand was in my lap again, while I considered the pro’s and con’s of the proposition.
On the one hand, he was wrinkly. On the other hand, he was promising to fulfill every classical musicians dream, to line me up with that big, fat endowment. I could suckle the teat of the great whore and make beautiful music while I was at it.
I got a few decent gigs out of it before our relationship went south, as all relationships based on personal gain do. I never quite made it to “Legend of the Concert Hall” status. George, however, was quite legendary in other respects.
Other “talented” young musicians captured Georges interest, and we went our separate ways.
I have mixed feelings about George. After all, I did get a few decent concert dates out of him.
And he had really soft hands.
P.S. Some of the names have been changed, to cover my butt. Some of these people are still alive!