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Music and the movies

Posted at 3:36 PM on May 16, 2006 by Euan Kerr

Michael Steinberg is one of the great treasures in our midst here in the Twin Cities. He teaches and writes about classical music, and has been a critic for the Boston Globe.

He says his life-long love affair with classical music did not begin in a concert hall however. In a new book "For the Love of Music: Invitations to Listening" which he co-wrote with Larry Rothe, he says he was seduced in a murky alley behind a fleapit he writes:

"It was Fantasia, the original 1940 version that did me in. I saw it just once, at the Cosmopolitan, a dingy movie house in Cambridge England, and although this was more than sixty-five years ago, I remember it more vividly than most of the movies I have seen in the last sixty-five weeks. I saw it just once because as a schoolboy on threepence a week in pocket money - even in 1940 that bought hardly anything, and surely not more than half a movie ticket - I couldn't afford to go again. Besides the guardians of Good Taste would not have encouraged, let alone subsidized, a return visit. But I also realized I did not need to see it again because the most important part was available for free. Behind the sweet little fleabag where Fantasia was playing, there was this alley where I could stand every day after school, stand undisturbed, and listen to the soundtrack of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, and Stravinsky. On a recent visit to Cambridge I was happy to see there is still a movie theater on the same site, but it is now called the Arts Theatre and is a lot cleaner."

What an image!

"For the Love of Music" is published by Oxford.

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