Saturday, 8 September 2012

Edward Heath and Madame Furtseva

Yekaterina Alexeyevna Furtseva was Soviet Minister of Culture in the days of Nikita Khrushchev, and, incidentally, the only woman in the history of the U.S.S.R. ever to reach the dizzy heights of the Politburo. When this appalling woman visited London, Harold Macmillan decided that Edward Heath was the most appropriate minister to arrange an itinerary for her. But all did not go according to plan. When Heath incautiously asked a question about Stravinsky's ballets there was a prolonged debate in the Soviet camp as to whether Stravinsky would ever become ideologically acceptable enough for performance in Moscow. Worse, he proposed a visit to Henry Moore's studio. This brought some urgent questions. Was Moore a "modern" sculptor? Yes. Did that mean his sculptures had holes in them? Again, yes.
"In that case", Heath was informed, "It would be quite improper for a Soviet Minister of Culture to visit Henry Moore's studio! I think it would be better if we cancelled all the arrangements for the rest of the week!"

This raises the question: why are dictatorial regimes always so afraid of the arts?

(Source: Edward Heath: "Music")

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