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219 Into the Wild West Chapter 8 WHERE TO BEGIN ABOUT THE Dallas Symphony Orchestra? Those three years, 1970–73, are a complicated story. In my life, I was fired only once. But the memory of it splinters into arrows coming from different directions at different times. It was because of the pops concerts. Who did I think I was, bringing Sonny and Cher onto the same stage with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra? No, it was because of the factions. Some board members didn’t like other board members. Some who particularly did like me died, or resigned, or were called aside by family matters. Or was it the critic? Oh, surely it all came down to money and attendance. Not enough Dallasites chose classical concerts over TV, and I did not change that. All I can do is lay out what it looked like from the podium, from my office, and from inside my head. If it’s a mess, forgive me. Everyone in Dallas musical circles knows what happened, but no one seems to know why. I will start with music. Music is not a mess. And it is the point. The Cherubini Symphony, the lovely version edited by Arturo 220 ■ Shoot the Conductor Toscanini, is what my Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia performed at North Texas State University, near Dallas. I didn’t know who was on the other side of the footlights, in that Texan audience , but one man was listening with both ears, and soon I was going to know him, for the rest of his life. To back up a little: In 1968, some while after the Chamber Symphony’s last curtain call, Jerome Hines called. Everyone knew him as a baritone, but he was also a composer. He invited me to conduct his opera, I Am the Way. I always loved working with Jerry. While I was conducting his opera in various cities from 1968–70, my antennae were up for a podium to come available at a city orchestra, but I was at a disadvantage without a manager. Arthur Judson, while he headed CAMI, had managed the top American conductors for decades. Now CAMI had a new head: Ronald Wilford. This was the same Ronald Wilford I complained about, back when he was a mid-level manager, because he wouldn’t let his soloists perform with the Chamber Symphony. I had humiliated Wilford in front of his CAMI superiors. He now managed Ormandy and most of the top conductors. I had double toxicity, lacking the support of both the great Eugene Ormandy and the head of CAMI. Harry Beall had represented my symphony, but to represent me personally as a conductor was impossible in that climate. Seiji Ozawa called. Would I like to be his assistant conductor at the San Francisco Symphony? Well, maybe. And concertmaster? Please, Anshel? No. No thanks. To Marilyn I said, “I could always drive a cab for awhile.” “How would you find your way out of the driveway?” she asked. “I think I might be more gifted than you in some areas. Some remunerative areas.” She did not throw in my face the offers I’d turned down. Into the Wild West ■ 221 I was optimistic any time the phone rang. One day—not just any day, but exactly one year after the Chamber Symphony had shut down—Carlton Cooley called. He had been principal violist under Toscanini, and then played in the Philadelphia Orchestra with me for several years. I had brought him on as principal violist in the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia. “Stay by the phone,” Carlton said. “You’re about to get a call from an old friend of mine in Dallas.” Not five minutes later, the phone rang again. It was David Stretch, president of the Dallas Symphony Association. “We’re looking for a resident conductor for next season, and Carlton tells me you might be available.” His warm personality came right over the phone. We talked about Carlton and the Chamber Symphony. David Stretch was the person listening so closely when we played the Cherubini Symphony at North Texas State University more than a year earlier. He was also curious about my experience learning conducting under Pierre Monteux. “Why don’t you fly down and check us out?” he suggested. Some weeks later, David met my plane in Dallas and took me to his house. His wife Mary was an accomplished pianist and wanted to play piano-and-violin sonatas with me. “I...


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