Longtime USC journalism professor (and former CBS correspondent) Murray Fromson has put up a blog. The Fromson File is doing longer pieces, the current one a remembrance of the night when Toscanini conducted the L.A. Philharmonic.
As the next two hours passed and the concert approached its climax, the music of Berlioz soared through the enormous hall.
Then suddenly, in a moment that surely only a genius like Toscanini could have envisioned, a woman dressed in black appeared from stage right, waltzing across the floor. The audience oohed and ahhhed, as I did. We could not believe what we were watching. Suddenly a crescendo of giggles began to rise from the first to the last seats in the house. From stage left, the portly general manager of the Philharmonic followed by three uniformed officers of the LAPD stepped from the wings. Toscanini, engrossed in his music, was oblivious to the mini-drama unfolding behind his back. The orchestra members valiantly tried to ignore the distraction as the would be dancer, eluding Johnsons outstretched arms, darted through the cello section and toward the flutes and clarinets with the cops in hot pursuit.
By then, the entire hall erupted in laughter and the concert master, David Frisina, no longer able to constrain himself, tapped Toscanini on the shoulder with his violin bow. The maestro looked up, his baton lowered slowly and startled by what he saw, and from high up in the Shrine Auditorium, I heard him cry out, Santa Maria!