Music: Strictly for Pleasure

Testy old (71) Sir Thomas Beecham was in a mellow mood. With the 105 members of his Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he had cleared the brambles of the U.S.'s new Security Act without a scratch, while German and Italian musicians were having a time of it. (Said Sir Thomas blandly: "We're all British, thank God.") There was a deeper reason for his satisfaction: he was set to face U.S. audiences with an orchestra of his own—an enterprise "I have undertaken in a becoming spirit of modesty and humility." In fact, beamed Sir Thomas, he had come "neither to educate nor to enlighten,...

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