The Boston Symphony on a November Afternoon
The Boston Symphony has been playing Friday afternoon concerts since 1890.
So on November 22, 1963, Symphony Hall was packed out as usual with the great and good, many of whom were alive in 1890.
Following a lengthy intermission, conductor Erich Leinsdorf came on stage to make this announcement.
It is chilling to hear, even fifty years later.
The orchestra then played the Funeral March from Beethoven’s Third Symphony. There the concert ended.
At the very same time I was walking home from second grade at Harrington School in Lexington, MA, about 10 miles from Symphony Hall.
There were murmurs and rumblings as we were dismissed at the usual time that Friday afternoon, 3.15 p.m.
I remember Billy Curro’s mother was picking him up, and he called out to her “Is it true, Ma?” Mrs. Curro was in dark glasses on a cloudy November afternoon. She said yes , yes it is.
I also remember thinking it was unusual for so many parents to be picking the kids up that day, since we all walked to school. Most of us lived within one mile.
My buddy Peter and I didn’t believe it. His dad was working in Washington, D.C. at the time. We said, let’s call your dad in Washington, he’ll know it isn’t true.
When I got home my mother was glued to the large, console style black and white TV. Rosary beads going full blast in one hand, a class of Chivas Regal-no ice, the company hooch-in the other.