Good times and bum times
I've seen them all and, my dear
I'm still here...
So sings Carlotta Campion in Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Sondheim celebrates his 90th birthday this Sunday amid a pandemic that has closed down Broadway, including Sondheim's scheduled appearance at a 90th birthday performance of the revival of his show Company. As an alternate celebration, let's wind the clock back to Sondheim's 80th with the New York Philharmonic. Just watch; has anyone ever embodied this song better than Elaine Stritch? She may be gone, but we're still here, and so is Stephen Sondheim. Happy 90th!
Speaking of birthdays, Sunday happens to be the 100th birth anniversary of actor Werner Klemperer, the genius comic actor from Hogan's Heroes. When you're done watching The Very Best of Colonel Klink, listen to Werner Klemperer tell NPR's Fresh Air the fascinating story of how he, a German Jewish refugee, came to portray a Nazi commandant in a sitcom. It hinged on the triumph of satire.
Finally, remember that Werner Klemperer's father was a very famous conductor, Otto Klemperer, who brought his family from Nazi Germany to Los Angeles in 1935, to become conductor of the LA Philharmonic. Otto Klemperer was among a wave of artist refugees who made new lives in California. Alex Ross has just written extensively on them, both in The New Yorker, and at his blog. While you read, escape to the quiet countryside with Otto Klemperer conducting a most leisurely performance of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. It's a perfect tonic for troubled times.