Robert Craft met Stravinsky by invitation in 1948, after nearly four years of letter correspondence with the composer. It was this close association that steered Craft into a stimulating world of leading composers, writers and artists.
At virtually the same time that he became a member of the Stravinsky household, Craft, aged twenty-four, discovered the ‘path of wonder’ created by Arnold Schoenberg. In 1950 the young conductor sought instruction from Schoenberg in the performance of his music, and maintained a friendship with him that became increasingly cordial until the week of the composer’s death a year later. ‘Remembering Schoenberg’, the first chapter of Down a Path of Wonder, charts with charm the development of this mutual understanding and friendship.
Craft’s musical observations are pertinent and witty, and it is music that underpins this collection of memoirs. However, his descriptions of Stravinsky’s collaborator-friends, such as George Balanchine, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Aldous Huxley and other Makers of the Twentieth Century, also provide a fascinating contribution to the intellectual and cultural history of our era.
Craft’s travel diaries, forming the final part of this book, focus on Italy, Seville and Cambodia; they are similarly insightful, colourful and edifying.
Down a Path of Wonder is a unique and truly compelling perspective on the post-Second World War artistic world – and beyond.