Music: Fresh Off the Boat

Thirty years ago, France's finest orchestra, the 90-year-old Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, was embarked on a U.S. warship, destination New York. At their first concert in the Metropolitan Opera House, damp-eyed crowds cheered, for it was wartime, and the orchestra started off an evening of French masters with an unforgettable lump-in-the-throat performance of La Marseillaise. Banker Otto H. Kahn made an appropriate speech: "If we ever failed to understand her, the great soul of France now stands revealed in splendor."

Last week, for the first time since then, the U.S. saw & heard another French orchestra. This time,...

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