Ever since I first heard of it, I've been curious about our presentation of Benny Goodman with Bela Bartok, Ditto Pasztory (Mrs. Bartok) and the great violinist Josef Szigeti at Jordan Hall back in 1941. The other day, I got a glimpse of the review of the concert that ran in the February 5, 1941 Boston Globe, and it's kind of a hoot. Here are some snippets:
"Benny Goodman went classical at Jordan Hall last night. He played the clarinet, but he did not have an orchestra with a strong 'powerhouse' behind him, and instead of swing, the program was a chaste list of 'serious' pieces. The concert was in the Chamber Music Series of Aaron Richmond, and presented, in addition to Mr. Goodman, Bela Bartok, Hungarian pianist and composer; his wife Ditta Pasztory, pianist; and Josef Szigeti, violinist.
For his first appearance in Boston as a classical musician, Mr. Goodman played Debussy's Rhapsody for clarinet and piano, partnered by Mr. Bartok, and joined him and Mr. Szigeti in Mr. Bartok's 'Contrasts.' When the 'King of Swing' shuffled amiably upon the stage, midway of the program, he was faced not with a crowd of stamping, whistling hep cats, but the dinner coats and evening gowns of a Bostonian audience trained to sit up attentively during a Mozart Sonata and who know better than to applaud between the movements."
I thought all of our concerts were filled with whistling hep cats... But my favorite line of the review is this:
"Yet there may have been a few youngsters in the crowd to whom the word jive means a good deal more than allegro molto does."
Count me among them. "Jive" is my middle name, hep cat.
Then there was this oddly menacing sentence in closing:
"Each of the other artists was cordially received."