The Arty Semite

Music and Philosophy at a Private Concert Hosted by George Soros

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

Philosophy is what matters most to George Soros, I learned the other day after an elegant party at Soros’s duplex Manhattan apartment (I was invited by a mutual friend) celebrating the latest recording of Bartók by Angela & Jennifer Chun, a Korean-born sister team of violinists.

I shared a cab on the way home with the veteran dance legend Jacques d’Amboise, a longtime Soros chum, who explains that despite the concert which Soros presided over in a room subtly decorated with American Impressionist paintings, music does not rank highest among his passions. “Not economics, either, certainly!” continues the ever-ebullient d’Amboise, who was seen in 2008 in an HBO Documentary “Jacques d’Amboise in China.” Philosophy is what Soros, son of the Hungarian Jewish doctor and author Tivadar Soros (1894–1968), prizes the most.

The elder Soros, author of the gripping wartime memoir, “Masquerade: Dancing around Death in Nazi-Occupied Hungary,” changed the family name from Schwartz in 1936 in response to the rise of European Fascism. Also a dedicated Esperantist and founder of the 1920s Esperanto literary magazine Literatura Mondo, Tivadar Soros was a man of high ideals and literary dedication. Small wonder that his son George aspires to more than just to be defined in Forbes Magazine terms.

d’Amboise adds in praise of his friend: “Are you aware of how many computers George donated to Russia to help Perestroika?”

Indeed, a 1991 Soros book, recently reprinted by PublicAffairs, “Underwriting Democracy: Encouraging Free Enterprise and Democratic Reform Among The Soviets and in Eastern Europe” lays out a clear blueprint of charitable activism. This June, PublicAffairs will publish a further, as-yet-untitled book by Soros about his charitable work, distributing “more than $7 billion in over seventy countries.”

No such facts or figures were in evidence during the party, which was dedicated solely to music. As the Chun sisters performed, I found myself sitting next to the 25-year-old Israeli pianist Nimrod David Pfeffer, a Tel-Aviv-born student of the distinguished pedagogue Pnina Salzman.

Pfeffer, whom concertgoers may have heard at New York’s Weill Recital Hall last fall, is scheduled to perform in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto on June 3 at Alice Tully Hall with the InterSchool Orchestras of New York. Pfeffer has already shown himself to be a nimble-fingered interpreter of Schumann and Chopin, and it should be fascinating to see how he fares with Beethoven.

Watch George Soros mull over philosophical matters at MIT in 2008:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Schumann, Tivadar Soros, Pnina Saltzman, Philosophy, Perestroika, Music, Nimrod David Pfeffer, Literatura Mondo, Jennifer Chun, Jacques d'Amboise, George Soros, Esperanto, Chopin, Beethoven, Bartok, Angela Chun, Aharon Harlap

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.