Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Please climb aboard the nearest time machine and travel back to April 29, 1962. When you arrive, you find out that you’re throwing a dinner party for prominent musical theater composers of the day. It’s your job to assemble the guest list. Who will you invite?
Well, you’re in for a great party. The choices are dazzling. Drumroll, please. Here’s the guest list:
Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, Cy Coleman, Jerry Herman, Burton Lane, Frederick Lowe, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Charles Strouse and Jule Styne.
Quite a party, yes? And imagine the songathon around the piano afterwards!
The point is that there are times throughout the millenniums when a fantastic array of talents in the same discipline are all doing great work at the same time.
Let’s throw another party. This time it’s April 29, 1965. Let’s do lunch in NYC near the famed Brill Building. Your guests will be pop songwriting teams. Who’s coming?
Again, the list is awesome:
Burt Bachrach & Hal David, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman.
Now, let’s bop back to April 29, 1958 and get a jam session happening at Birdland, New York’s legendary jazz club on 52nd Street. Who’s playing? We’ve invited Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Unreal! And those are only the bebop players.
One more musical soirée. It’s April 29, 1880. We’re sending telegrams to classical composers all over Europe and Russia from Paris to Moscow and points between. Here’s the guest list:
Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, Fauré, Grieg, Liszt, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Wagner.
Needless to say, an utterly amazing group!
Finally, it’s physicists exclusively on April 29, 1942. We’ll host the following:
Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Richard Feynman, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, Erwin Schrodinger and Nikola Tesla.
My explanation for these collections of greatness is the following:
The combination of talented brilliant minds, high standards and a common system of expression has the potential to breed greatness.
May we attain such a phenomenon on many occasions to come.