AUGUST 14, 1951
HYDE PARK, Monday—It was a shock to hear of our old friend Steve Early's death. For so many years he worked for my husband when he felt for his own sake he should give up public service, that I think everyone who knew him appreciated his patriotism. I particularly appreciated his loyalty and devotion to my husband. He was never just a White House secretary. Between him and my husband there was a deep and abiding affection and my husband had great admiration for him. To his family this is a great loss in which I sympathize. It is also a loss to his many friends and to the people of the country, for he was a devoted public servant.
Last Friday night was the benefit performance, "Tanglewood on Parade," for the Berkshire Music Center. This is really quite an occasion and one which brings large crowds. A year ago Mr. Serge Koussevitzky had asked me to do Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" at this performance; so when they asked me if I would say a few words in his memory this year, I was more than happy to have the opportunity.
I went up with two friends, and had a delightful time. Taking our supper we sat under a tree and ate and enjoyed the music of a delightful concert which began about six o'clock in the shed. Afterwards we wandered around; then sat outside the main house to listen to some chorus singing by the Music Center's students. Before going to the evening concert, I had a chance to speak to Mr. Leonard Bernstein whom I had not seen since last year when he came to reassure me about my part in "Peter and the Wolf."
I also had the pleasure of seeing for a few minutes, Mrs. Koussevitzky. She said she plans to continue to live in that area after a short trip abroad.
The evening concert was delightful, beginning with Berlioz's overture, "Benvenuto Cellini," conducted by Eleazor de Carvhalo. We all particularly enjoyed the violin solo by Ruth Posselt, who had once played for me years ago. But best of all I liked Debussy's "The Sea," conducted by Charles Munch.
Immediately after this, Mr. Munch introduced me and I tried to say in a few words what this living memorial which Mr. Koussevitzky built with his great enthusiasm and vision means to so many people. I was not one of his intimate friends and, therefore, could not speak of many sides of his character. But perhaps it meant something to a great many people who never had an opportunity to meet him to have someone voice their gratitude.
George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," conducted by Leonard Bernstein, seemed just the right thing to end the evening. Mr. Bernstein thought it was not sufficiently serious, but everybody there enjoyed it and perhaps marvelled, as I did, at his ability to play the piano and conduct at the same time. That seemed a very remarkable achievement. He told me he was going to take time out from concert work to do some composing. And I think everyone will wish him well and hope that wherever he works, the creative spirit is close at hand.