Sunday, April 20, 2008

Surgeon General's warning

Before the Abbey concert [Walton] went for a drink with a friend who was a doctor. She noticed that, after climbing a long flight of stairs, Walton was alarmingly out of breath and she arranged from him to see a heart specialist. There was nothing wrong with his heart, but the specialist noticed a shadow on his left lung. A second opinion diagnosed cancer, the result of smoking twenty pipes a day[!]. He at once instructed his wife to throw away all his pipes and tobacco and he never smoked again.
Michael Kennedy, Portrait of Walton, 229.

This is probably the most revealing bit in what is proving to be a somewhat uninteresting biography of a favourite composer of mine. What better portrait of a composer like William Walton - iron discipline hidden beneath a hedonistic, carefree exterior?

1 comment:

Heather said...

20 pipes a day!? Yuck.