The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Classical Music

Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Nov. 8, 1940

  Nov. 8, 1940, Tax Boosts




Nov. 8, 1940: Hear tell the Basil Rathbones will give up their Brentwood mansion for a more modest home. Big charity donations make it necessary, Jimmie Fidler says.

Also on the jump, a review of a touring production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” by the San Francisco Opera at Shrine Auditorium (at 6,000+ seats, it has about twice the capacity of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion—not exactly an intimate space for a Mozart opera). The opera was conducted from the piano by Erich Leinsdorf, with Ezio Pinza, Alexander Kipnis, Tito Schipa, Elizabeth Rethberg, Margit Bokor and Elsa Zebranska. The production was evidently given on a large, rotating stage. 

Anyone familiar with the opera will realize the shortcomings of Times music critic Isabel Morse Jones (d. 1951) rather quickly. 

Continue reading »

Voices – Joan Sutherland, 1926 – 2010

  Nov. 22, 1966, Joan Sutherland  

Nov. 22, 1966: Times music critic Martin Bernheimer interviews Joan Sutherland … in his Volkswagen? Yes, it’s true. She and Ricky (her husband, conductor Richard Bonynge) are getting ready to do “Lucia” at the new Met, which will be his debut.

Continue reading »

Why History Must Be Saved, Even When Nobody Wants It

June 15, 2010, Ernest Fleischmann

The death of Ernest Fleischmann, former executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, offers a nice point of departure for a few musings about how casually we treat the past.

About a year ago, I noticed a trash cart full of files next to a freight elevator at The Times. I’m nosy about discarded material and in looking at the folders discovered that they were the old biographical files on classical musicians once used by the Calendar  staff before the Internet made research easy. It was impossible to save everything, but I rescued about seven boxes worth of material that included newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases, programs, printouts, rough drafts and correspondence.

My first thought was to donate this material to the Huntington, but after reviewing the files, the library declined my offer. So the boxes have been sitting in my garage.

Today, I dug out the Fleischmann file. The first item I found was his controversial commencement address, reproduced above, delivered at the Cleveland Institute of Music on May 16, 1987. Evidently, the speech was reprinted in Musical America because it turns up in a Google search, so perhaps a typescript copy isn’t much of a loss.

What follows on the jump are excerpts from a discussion of the speech by a panel that included Fleischmann;  conductor Kurt Masur; Richard C. Clark, head of Affiliate Artists; and Tom Morris, executive director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Summarized online.

Next is an anonymous comedy sketch about Fleischmann, Times Publisher Otis Chandler and sports columnist Jim Murray filing a review of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Not online.

And finally, there’s a letter from Fleischmann to then-Times music critic Martin Bernheimer replying to a story on the orchestra's 1986-87 season. As you’ll notice, a comment penciled in the margin reads “bullshit.” Definitely not online.

I think Daily Mirror readers would agree that this material deserves a better home than my garage. I would happily donate these files to an academic library in Southern California that realizes their merit. You can contact me here.

As for the rest of these documents, copying and posting them in their entirety would be rather laborious but I’ll be willing to upload them if there’s enough interest.

Continue reading »

Pavarotti in ‘La Boheme’

June 6, 1980, Pavarotti

June 6, 1980, Pavarotti 

June 6, 1980: With the skill of a surgeon, Martin Bernheimer dissects a performance by operatic sensation Luciano Pavarotti (d. 2007). “He conquered. He came. He sang. In that order,” Bernheimer says.

Notice that in return for agreeing to use a dress rehearsal as a preview, Pavarotti demanded that protege Madelyn Renee replace Diana Soviero as Mimi for one performance. Soviero was understandably upset and told Bernheimer: "I hope I never see San Diego again.”

Oct. 14, 1897, La Boheme

You knew “La Boheme” had its U.S. premiere in Los Angeles, right?  (Oct. 14, 1897).

Continue reading »

The Times’ Court Reporter Files a Story in Dialect

June 3, 1910, Krakauer Piano

June 3, 1910: The Times’ court reporter files a story in dialect about two African American women who are charged with fighting. Ouch.

And police arrest newsboys shooting dice behind the offices of Los Angeles Record (1886-1931).
Continue reading »


June 2, 1980, Fantasia 

June 2, 1980: Yes, young persons, “Fantasia” came back in 1980 as a “head film” (note the smoke and mushrooms).  In 1982, in an attempt to improve the audio quality, Disney had a pickup orchestra and conductor/composer Irwin “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” Kostal try to duplicate Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, much to everyone’s horror.

On the jump, a great obit by Times writer Jerry Belcher.

Continue reading »

Elvis Arrives in L.A.

April 21, 1960, Elvis


April 21, 1960: Elvis Presley’s return to Los Angeles to film “G.I. Blues” is put safely on Page 2. Instead, The Times leads the paper with the resignation of the South Korean cabinet. 

April 21, 1960, Georg Solti 

ps. Georg Solti is named music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Continue reading »

Mystic Author Visits Los Angeles


March 8, 1920: The Times seems quite taken with Francis Grierson, author of “Modern Mysticism,” quoting him at length on world politics and spiritualism. The poor fellow died of starvation, The Times says, while working on an anthology of poetry.

Continue reading »

Noise Replaces Facts in Politics

March 6, 1960, Politics

March 6, 1960: The Times publishes James Reston’s views on politics after adding the New York Times News Service. Reston calls Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) a tough political operator and describes Vice President Richard Nixon as “nearer to a Dewey liberal” than a conservative.

On the jump, Walter Alston drops some hints about the Dodgers’ starting lineup.

Continue reading »

‘I Laugh, Ho, Ho, at Black Hand,’ Caruso Says

March 6, 1920, Caruso 

March 6, 1920: Enrico Caruso laughs at threatening letters from the Black Hand. “I will sing in Brooklyn on Monday!” he vows.

Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, March 5, 1960

March 5, 1960, Mirror Cover
Leonard Warren, 1911-1960

Telephone Girls Belie Propaganda


Paul Coates

    I'm a client, reasonably well paid up, of Pacific Telephone Co.  And I'd like to assure you that my complaint is nothing personal.
    In fact, over the years, I've built up kind of an impersonal affection for the girls who get numbers for me.  Admittedly, they're just voices.  Nothing serious -- like the initiation of a pen-pal correspondence -- has ever come out of my brief conversations with them when I dial 0 or 110 or 113.
    But my empathy has never flagged.
    My complaint is on a policy-level matter.  About the yellow pages. 
    You have, no doubt, seen and read the propaganda which PT&T's Madison Ave. types have been putting out about their fat classified directory.
    They've been claiming that it's possible to find anything from an elephant to a  sunken Spanish galleon to an attractive help-mate who doesn't smoke or drink but loves outdoor sports, children and mah-jongg merely by flipping through the yellow pages.

Continue reading »

A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Your Movie Columnist

Feb. 4, 1942, Hedda Hopper 

The dark ages of crossword puzzle construction: Look at all those two-letter answers!

Feb. 4, 1942, Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson performs at Philharmonic Auditorium in a recital of works by Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Rachmaninoff and Gretchaninoff, who is not a composer I recognize. Anderson concludes with spirituals, which Times critic Isabel Morse Jones suggests be done without accompaniment.

Feb. 4, 1942: Hedda Hopper asks, "While I'm carping, why can't El Capitan Theater be named the De Mille? Sid Grauman has a theater named after him."

Too bad she’s not around to hear the answers.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent Posts
The Daily Mirror Is Moving |  June 16, 2011, 2:42 am »
Movieland Mystery Photo |  June 11, 2011, 9:26 am »
Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated] |  June 11, 2011, 8:06 am »
Found on EBay 1909 Mayor's Race |  June 9, 2011, 2:33 pm »