Our two Lives, New York 1976
(Biography of her husband Artur Rodzinski)
There remained some recalcitrants in the Philharmonic who were embarrassed by Artur's religiosity. No one could deny that at times my husband was laughable, for his enthusiasms in all things other than music invariably blurred the boundary separating the reasonable from the excessive. I could understand their unfavorable reactions to Artur when he was on the crest of his religious high. He had "experiences" out of William James - apparitions and presences of the Divine even in the alley behind Carnegie Hall.
One night Artur came back to our apartment after rehearsing Mahler's Resurrection (the Second Symphony) and reported he had found waiting for him at the stage door a striking human being, a very tall, handsome, blind man with a long beard, dressed in a brown cape like a Franciscan's habit. "He looked like a Christ," said Artur. "I was even afraid for a moment. But he introduced himself to me, and asked if he could attend a rehearsal of the Mahler. Of course, I told him to come whenever he liked."
Since Artur did not approve of outsiders at rehearsals, including me, I knew that he had been truly moved by this person whose name was Louis Hardin. Louis and Artur eventually became friends. And Artur, whose new religious concerns had not erased his superstitiousness, believed that Louis brought him good luck.
When we found that Louis lived in a cold loft somewhere, we tried to help him out with some warm clothes. Artur, who never parted with so much as an old slipper, gave Louis one of his suits and a heavy wintercoat, which Louis sold. Louis was also averse to shoes, and frostbitten feet he knew well enough. He had nothing against seeing again, however, and gladly went with me to visit a well-known eye specialist, Dr. Milton Berliner. I vaguely had a notion that the new art of corneal transplantation could salvage some vision for Louis. The verdict was negative. Both eyes were too hopelessly damaged for surgery, having been destroyed by an explosion when, as a child, Louis played with dynamite.
Louis Hardin used to be a familiar sight on the streets. His usual haunt was the Avenue of the Americas where, unless he has died or moved elsewhere, he probably still pads around in sandals, horse-blanket cape, and now a headdress that looks as if cadged from an old production of Die Walküre. For a coin, he will tootle a pretty song on his recorder, and give all the conversation one wants for nothing. Most people know him as Moondog. His fortunes, such as they ever were, improved when Goddard Lieberson recorded some of his mournful compositions for Columbia. One of them, a song made out of a borrowing from a Dvorak chamber piece, even became the jukebox hit "Nature Boy."
The Mahler Second which brought Louis Hardin into our lives, was given several beautiful performances and was a hit with both public and critics. The Westminster Choir appeared with soloists Enid Szantho and Astrid Varnay. Mahler was then not at all popular. People blanched at the thought of a concert-length symphony. After the Thursday reading, Carnegie Hall was packed. My box had people sitting on the low partitions and standing. Seated beside me - and it made the moment a proud one - were Alma Mahler and her last husband, Franz Werfel. Mme. Mahler later wrote to Artur of her appreciation of the performance, telling him that his rendition was like a reincarnation of Mahler's own. This touched Artur greatly, for one of his life-long regrets was that Mahler died before he ever had a chance to hear him conduct anything, let alone his own music.