Monday, April 6, 2009

Wilde, Stravinsky, Stein

On this day in 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested in room 118 at the Cadogan Hotel for the crime of being homosexual. Up until that moment he was a famous playwright, one of the greatest wits and celebrities of the age. (His play the Importance of Being Earnest had recently opened in the West End.) Five years later he would die in a far cheaper hotel in Paris at age 46. Wilde appears on pages 101, 125, 152, 160, 179 and 256 in A Book of Ages.

Igor Stravinsky, whose compositions provoked famous riots by people wearing expensive evening clothes in expensive concert halls in Paris and elsewhere, died on this day in 1971. In 1913, Gertrude Stein attended the second night performance of Stravinsky's Le sacre de printemps, thereby missing all the commotion. In any case it is hard to visualize the phlegmatic Ms. Stein throwing a chair. Stein appears at ages 4, 19, 29, 32, 33, 39, 59 and 72 in A Book of Ages. Oddly, Stravinsky only appears in other people's anecdotes.

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