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A job designed for doormats

December 18, 2007 by Norman Lebrecht

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I was sorry to read (on www.musicalamerica.com) that Harry Kraut had died. In a job designed for doormats, Harry stood up combatively to Leonard Bernstein, whose business affairs he managed from 1972, and did his best to curb his excesses. Discreet as a trappist, he gave no quarter to journalists or biographers and kept publishers, orchestras and festival organisers at an appropriate arm’s length. Meryle Secrest, Lenny’s most objective biographer, thought he bore a passing resemblance to the maestro’s father.
I wonder what Harry would have made of the coming Bernstein Festival announced this week by Carnegie Hall and the NY Phil, an over-the-top celebration of Lenny’s 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his New York accession. All-embracing, all-forgiving, it presents some of his most egregious compositions alongside the more thoughtful and lasting legacies. Sentiment, it seems, has finally got the upper hand.


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