AUGUST 26, 1948
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—I was very happy to see by the paper that we are not going to lose the opera season in New York City. It had seemed to me a great tragedy that a city the size of New York must give up good music. I read one amusing criticism saying in brief that if what was produced was better there would be less trouble for those producing it! There may be some validity to that criticism, but I must say that through the years I have heard some very magnificent music in the old opera house. I happen to like symphony concerts better than I do the opera, but that does not mean that I want to wipe out the opera or that I do not enjoy and feel the need of both.
I feel that the people of the city should support it and not leave its support so largely to a restricted group of people. I don't know how a wider appeal could be made. Just at present when the prices for the necessities of life are so high that even high wages cannot cover the needs of a family, it is difficult to expect to create an interest in a much wider circle. For the sake of the opera however, in the future, some means should be devised by which as many individuals as possible will feel that this music belongs to them and that they have a pride in keeping it going.
I am glad that it was the action of the labor unions that made it possible to continue the opera next season and I hope some way can be worked out to create a pension system. I realize only too well that musicians and artists, like teachers, rarely get paid in a way which compensates for the long years of training that precede their actual earning years and that those earning years are not apt to be so very long at their peak.
And speaking of teachers, I read with interest the other day General Eisenhower's remarks on the rather general statements which have been made that an investigation should be held of our schools and colleges to ascertain whether we have teachers who are subversive. The President of Columbia University feels apparently that such an investigation is totally unnecessary and might be dangerous, as it would certainly lead to less freedom of thought and speech. I think we have a right to expect our teachers to feel enough satisfaction and respect for the Democratic way of life so that they will impart that to the young people in their classrooms. This means, of course, that we must see that they really have conditions surrounding their work which make it an exciting adventure and not an education in self sacrificing. I sometimes wonder whether in the majority of cases teachers are given an important enough position, commensurate with their responsibility in our communities, and whether the salaries they are paid really show that we understand the importance of the teacher in the lives of our children and in their potential influence on the development of our country.