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<<  -- 4 --  Bill Newman    AFTER ANTAL DORÁTI

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Ilse von Alpenheim lived previously with Hungarian composer Sándor Veress. Veress -- who was to die in 1992 -- and she shared their life for fourteen years with their son, Claudio. Claudio now lives in Berne, teaching German literature and philosophy at college with a wide activity also as violinist and viola player. The new marriage, however, was destined to be blessed by the Gods, the two travelling together everywhere -- she attending to his culinary needs, he unfailingly generous on each and every occasion. I saw it in her facial expressions when highlighting past events and happenings. Even when setbacks occurred, as they do to all travelling musicians, a sense of humour and ability to shrug off all disruptions was always ready to hand.

What intrigued me, though, was the photo of her that appeared opposite page 129! Now at 76, that engaging smile is still the same, as I straightaway remarked on when she met us at the railway connection beyond Berne. Despite a fall from a ladder with a few months spent in hospital, she can outpace anyone else during her regular daily walks through the countryside! A vegetarian cook of the finest calibre, the smells from the kitchen automatically creating a longing for each successive course, she has that secret of appealing at all times to man's inner thoughts and desires -- in the best sense!

Ilse von Alpenheim. Photo © Bill Newman
Ilse von Alpenheim. Photo © Bill Newman

Afterwards, finding myself keeping company with a huge bottle of finest Malt Whisky, I speedily mapped out a plan of campaign that surrounded her daily exercise and resting periods, including our small jobs round the house -- Richard sharing these responsibilities -- and my insistence to dead wood prune her vines suffering invasion from unwanted ivy tendrils, then her request for me to give added support to her climbing roses. It still left adequate time for scenic walks and car trips into country areas for fresh grocery provisions, with the promised interview already occupying every spare moment. 'Toni', by the way, is Doráti. Most of his close associates called him by this Italianate version of his Christian name, although I never dared!

A new partner in life

Where and when did you first meet your future husband in 1959? 'It was a piece for two pianos by Sándor Veress, where I played the other piano. Doráti was conducting, and for me later became some sort of family concert. It was based on Seven Pictures by Paul Klee. We performed it in Zurich, and that is how I met Toni. Veress and he knew one another from the Kodály Class, and contact continued. But each of us had our different partners, so that time was not mature, yet.'

Was he slightly standoffish? He could be like that with me, and was inclined to be cautious until he knew people properly. 'Not at all, he was very nice, very spontaneous -- and I liked him enormously from the first moment. But it did not occur to me that there should be something more. It has to develop, and partnerships do change in time.'

You were going your separate ways. Where did you meet the second time? 'Veress and I were living in Switzerland, and Toni would call on us whenever he visited the country. We were not often home, but when it happened and he called, he would maybe ask us for lunch. This included Veress, of course, and Klari (the first Mrs Doráti). Still, she sometimes came with him; sometimes not.'

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Copyright © 10 August 2003 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

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