FEBRUARY 27, 1957
NEW YORK—Saturday night I heard a most delightful concert by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos at Carnegie Hall. The soloist was a pianist, Mr. Jean Casadesus, and of course I confused him with his father and was surprised to see such a young man coming on the stage. He played beautifully and I enjoyed his performance very much. The orchestra played a Fantasy for Orchestra by Robert Mann. Mr. Mann is the leader of the Juilliard String Quartet but I had never heard one of his compositions before. I found it interesting but I am not sure that modern music is easy for me to understand on the first hearing.
Senator Humphrey sent me the other day three bills which he has introduced in the interests of the Arts, one of them S 967 is to provide for the establishment of a federal advisory commission on the arts to encourage cultural and artistic endeavors nationally and internationally and at the same time to stimulate in the American public a greater appreciation of the arts. Another Bill, S 966, provides for transferring of the Civil Service Commission Building in the District of Columbia to the regents of the Smithsonian Institution for use in housing the national collection of fine arts and for a national portrait gallery. The bill also provides for the international interchange of art and craft work. The third bill, S 965, broadens the composition and activities of the 47 year old U.S. Commission of Fine Arts functioning primarily in the District of Columbia by providing representation of the living arts, recognizing music, drama, poetry, dance and the graphic arts, motion pictures, radio, TV, literature and the craft arts. To have a Senator interest himself in increasing an interest in the arts in our country is very encouraging for this is an area in which we have lagged far behind. We have been so preoccupied with our industrial growth that we have thought of little else and the culture of a nation is as important as its economy.
Most of the people I see just now are primarily concerned at the moment over the Near East question and the decisions which will be made by our government on sanctions as applied to Israel. What we will do by way of leadership in the U.N. and what our vote will be is of great importance, both for the future of the U.N. and for our own future leadership in the world. Nobody seems to have brought out the fact that the policies and actions of the dictator in Egypt, Mr. Nasser, are being framed today by advisors little mentioned but nevertheless present, Germans who were well-known in Hitler's regime. It is curious that Hitler's influence should be reaching out again in a question concerning the Jews of Israel and the Jews residing in Egypt even when they are Egyptian citizens.