Music: McArthur Swings the Stick

Soprano Kirsten Flagstad and Tenor Lauritz Melchior, who are none too fond of each other professionally, sang Tristan und Isolde one night last week at Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera. This popular team had impersonated Wagner's potion-bibbing lovers many a time before. But this time Tristan was an event. In the pit was the Met's first U. S.-born, U. S.-trained conductor, sandy-haired, bespectacled Edwin McArthur.

To get into that pit, McArthur had come a long way. As a piano prodigy in Denver, he made money for music lessons by selling magazines on street corners, picking berries at 2¢ a quart. In high school,...

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