An important part of Gelb’s role was to reinforce, through exaggerated deference, the fragile self-absorption of Horowitz and Wanda, the daughter of Arturo Toscanini. “I had dinner with them once a week,” Gelb says. “Part of my duties was to talk to them and take them out. I had always called him Mr. Horowitz, but his friends called him Volodya. At one point, shortly before Horowitz died, he was in a very expansive, affectionate mood, and he said to me, ‘You know, you’re like a member of our family. I don’t think you should call me Mr. Horowitz anymore. You should call me Maestro.’ ”
After Horowitz died, in 1989, Gelb’s last managerial act was to insure that the pianist was buried in the Toscanini family tomb, in a Catholic cemetery in Milan, by claiming that Horowitz, although Jewish, had been on the verge of conversion.
Read the rest of the story about Peter Gelb, general manager of The Metropolitan Opera, for an education on handling prima donnas.
[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]