OCTOBER 21, 1958
AKRON, Ohio—I did not have the space the other day to mention another author who was at the Washington Post's Book and Author luncheon with me. He is Dr. C. Northcote Parkinson, who is professor of history at the University of Malaya and a versatile writer.
He was there to speak about his book, "Parkinson's Law," and he did it wittingly and charmingly. He makes fun of many things that need to be faced with humor, and he gets across much that we should know with a light touch and in a way that makes understanding for the layman possible.
"Parkinson's Law" is a humorous satire on bureaucracy. But Dr. Parkinson has done a more serious book, "The Evolution of Political Thought," which should be read as an important study of "political institutions and the ideas to which they give rise."
One of my correspondents, Marjorie P. Ferris, who lives in the Province of Quebec, sent me a poem the other day that greatly impressed me. I want to quote a few lines from it because in this day when many of us question our ability to hold to any faith this poet's expression of belief may bring home to us a value that can be steadying in a troubled world:
Is this...beyond all things, God is right!
No special gift of mind, nor do I care.
I only know when crushed by pain and sorrow,
I can reach out and know that He is there.
I went the other night to a concert in Carnegie Hall and heard the works of three American composers, Riegger, Becker and Ruggles, whom are not very often heard. And the finale of the concert was Rachmaninoff's piano concerto No. 3 for piano and orchestra, in which Mr. Van Cliburn was the pianist and Leonard Bernstein the conductor.
It was a memorable evening for me as I had not heard this young pianist before and everyone in the Soviet Union spoke of him with such admiration. I felt any American who had not heard him was lacking in one of the real pleasures which we are entitled to enjoy.
Leonard Bernstein is one of my favorite people, as well as a gifted conductor, and I liked the way he introduced the American composers who were unfamiliar to me. I will have to say that because of that the Rachmaninoff was somewhat of a relief because I did not feel I was trying to understand something new. Nevertheless, the music of the American composers, though unfamiliar to me, had moments of beauty and meaning for me.
As for Mr. Van Cliburn, he is a brilliant and finished artist, besides having a charming and captivating personality. Someday I hope I shall have the pleasure of meeting him, for I think one would find him delightful as a person as well as an artist.
Every time I go to Carnegie Hall I enjoy the marvelous acoustics there. And I grieve over the way in which some people are willing to destroy such an old landmark as this. How do we know that the new building will have the same value as the old?