Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ten Fingers vs. One Mouth

One More Rubinstein Story . . . [Jay Nordlinger]

. . . and one I just learned yesterday, as it happens. I was talking to Yehuda Avner, not about Rubinstein, but about Menachem Begin. Avner is a British-born Israeli who has counseled a slew of prime ministers — including Begin. In the ’80s — the Thatcher ’80s — Avner served as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.

Anyway, we got on the subject of Rubinstein. He and Begin were friends — they certainly knew each other. In fact, Rubinstein was at the Begins’ the day the prime minister won the Nobel Peace Prize, with Sadat. Begin asked him to played [sic] something in celebration — which he did. Anyway, here’s the story that Avner related:

The politician says to the pianist, “Mr. Rubinstein, you have ten fingers, I have ten fingers. And when I place my ten fingers on the keyboard, I just make noise. When you place your ten fingers on the keyboard, you produce celestial sounds.” Pianist to politician: “Mr. Begin, I have a mouth, you have a mouth. When I open my mouth, I talk drivel. When you open your mouth, you produce celestial words.”

You may not remember Begin as much of an orator or an arguer, probably because his international reputation — shaped by the Left — is negative. But he was very good, believe me.

Anyway, I think I’m done with Rubinstein stories for the day. I may be back with Heifetz . . .
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