Shostakovich Visits L.A.!
October 30, 2009 | 8:00 am
Shostakovich meets the press at the Ambassador Hotel. Wouldn’t it be great to go see it? Oh, wait, we let L..A. Unified tear it down.
Oct. 20, 1959: Dmitri Shostakovich leads a group of Soviet composers on a tour of the U.S. After Mayor Norris Poulson’s headline-grabbing stunt with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviets are justifiably worried about what sort of greeting they will get in Los Angeles. American envoy Ken Kertz, who is escorting the Soviets, angrily squelches any comments upon their arrival at Union Station.
In a news conference at the Ambassador Hotel, Kertz turned off the TV lights, but composer Dmitri Kabalevsky encouraged reporters to stay. An unidentified reporter asked about Soviet reaction to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 and Tikhon Khrennikov replied that orchestras “"vied for the opportunity to lead their programs with the 11th.” Khrennikov isn’t an immediately recognized name these days, but he was head of the Soviet Composers Union and caused misery for Shostakovich, Serge Prokofiev and Alfred Schnittke.
The old saying that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes certainly seems true. Here we have high winds sweeping Los Angeles and burglars who targeted a movie star, in this case Joan Fontaine. The Times also carried a Charles Hillinger story about the system of dams used to catch ash and debris in the anticipated flooding of areas burned in the recent wildfire, the same problem we're facing after the Station fire.
Yes, there was a time when the Defense Department was working on nuclear-powered aircraft. A key component of nuclear reactors – lots of lead – posed unusual problems for the designers. And if it crashed, that could be messy.
The Ebony Showcase Theatre, at 4366 W. Adams Blvd. stages a new musical comedy.
John L. Mitchell interviews Horace "Nick" Stewart of the Ebony Showcase Theater. In the profile, Stewart takes stock of his career (he played Lightnin' on the "Amos 'n' Andy Show." "Almost every important black performer, at one time or another, has come through Nick's operation," says C. Bernard Jackson of the Inner City Cultural Center.
Jeane Hoffman visits UCLA football coach Billy Barnes and his wife, Frances.