Leo Carey, an editor at The New Yorker, has drawn my attention to the delightful fact that Carlos Kleiber, possibly the greatest conductor of the late twentieth century, was an avid reader of our magazine. A 2009 BBC 3 program about Kleiber, which has been transcribed at a Kleiber memorial website, has the following testimony from Peter Jonas:
He was phenomenally well read. I’ve never met anybody so well read. One of the most well thumbed books that he had at home, which he re-read constantly, was William Shawn’s History of The New Yorker. [He probably means Brendan Gill's Here At The New Yorker. — ed.] In the early period of our friendship, I would get my New Yorkers and post them to him after I’d read them, and he would get them late by ‘snail mail,’ and all the rest. And I remember there was once in The New Yorker, many years ago, a fourteen-part serial on the aircraft industry, on the manufacture and sales of aero engines. [This would seem to be "A Sporty Game," a four-part John Newhouse series from 1982. — ed.] Now that’s a totally useless subject. Who needs to know about all that, how aero engines are built and how they’re sold, you know, separately from airplanes? And we used to correspond like mad about these kind of articles, and the longer the better, the more abstruse the better. He loved The New Yorker.
The entire program, hosted by Ivan Hewett, is full of revealing, amusing, and touching details. One learns that Kleiber had a major run-in with players of the Chicago Symphony; that Duke Ellington gave him the key to conducting the Coriolanus Overture; and that he accepted payment for one conducting gig in the form of an Audi worth £100,000.