Have you ever played that game where you invite eight guests to a fantasy dinner party where being alive isn’t an issue? I was wondering who I would ask to a classical music gathering. Leonard Bernstein would be top of my list. I saw him conduct in London but never met him, and he would be the perfect person, drinking (and unfortunately probably smoking) while holding forth on music and art, his investigation by the FBI as a communist sympathiser, and the state of politics.

Next to Lenny I would put Mozart. Their minds would race like Formula One cars down the speedway of music. Would Mozart be all 18th-century grace or would we see the more down-to earth Wolfgang of his letters, with stories of flatulence and other bodily functions? I hope the latter.

I would also want Tchaikovsky there. He needs a bit of cheering up. The New York Timescritic once had a go at the snobbishness around his music – that the public loved it and the critics thought he was nothing but a “weeping machine”, but it would be nice for him to know that not a minute passes without some ballet company around the world...

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