Photo: Paul Fusco / Magnum Photos / Library of Congress.
At Robert F. Kennedy's funeral, on June 8, 1968, Leonard Bernstein led members of the New York Philharmonic in the Adagietto of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. At 4AM that night, Jacqueline Kennedy wrote this to Bernstein:
When your Mahler started to fill (but that is the wrong word — because it was more this sensitive trembling) the Cathedral today — I thought it the most beautiful music I had ever heard. I am so glad I didn't know it — it was this strange music of all the gods who were crying. And then — if only you could have seen it — it was the time when Ethel had thought of the most touching thing — having the littlest nephews and nieces, small children, before that terrifying array of Cardinals and gold and Gothic vaults, carry all the little vessels for Communion up to the high altar, so that they could have some part in the farewell to the uncle they all loved so much. They were so vulnerable — and your music was everything in my heart, of peace and pain and such drowning beauty. You could just close your eyes and be lost in it forever.... Will you tell your noble orchestra, drowning in heat and cables when I passed them — that so many people all this day have said: how beautiful you were....
She says many other moving things in this remarkable letter, but what strikes me most is this: as she walks down the aisle of St. Patrick's Cathedral, at the funeral of the murdered brother of her murdered husband, she thinks about how hot the players must be under the lights.