René Pape is one of the greatest singers of our time, a living legend. He is a bass from Germany – East Germany. He and Jay talk a little bit about that. They also talk about a range of other issues, as they sit outside in Salzburg, with bells occasionally ringing out. Pape does a little singing, just quietly: “Follow Me,” by John Denver. A very interesting person, René Pape, and great company, as you will find.

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As Jay says, Anne-Sophie Mutter is not just one of the great violinists of our time, she is one of the great musicians of our time. She is also a fascinating – fascinating – interviewee. Smart as a whip, for one thing. From the Salzburg Festival, she and Jay talk about a number of things, including a number of personalities: André Previn (to whom she was married), Herbert von Karajan (who launched her career), John Williams (the famed movie composer, with whom she has made a new album), and more. She ends with a sweet, moving tribute to her man – and the universe’s man – Bach.

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Sir John Tomlinson is a veteran, marvelous singer, a bass. He is now appearing at the Salzburg Festival. As Jay says, Sir John speaks almost as beautifully as he sings. In this conversation, they talk about the vocal life and many other things. Sir John does some singing, including the beginning of “Boris Godunov.” All free of charge. A splendid listen, the whole thing.

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Jay is at the Salzburg Festival, performing his annual tasks, which include a series of conversations for the Salzburg Festival Society. One of the guests in the series is Rosa Feola, a soprano from Italy. She is a delightful, sparkling woman, as you will hear. Also an interesting one – as you will also hear. As a bonus, Rosa does a little singing – a little demonstrating. You will eat her up, as Jay and the audience in Salzburg did.

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That’s the way Lou Cannon was once described on television. (Jay can’t remember exactly by whom, but he thinks it was Al Hunt.) Cannon, the veteran journalist and author, has written a slew of books about Reagan, beginning in the 1960s. Jay wanted to talk to him about the recent eruption over Reagan and race. (Jay himself wrote about the issue – quoting Cannon at length – here.) In addition to this question, Cannon discusses the Tea Party movement (2009-16), Donald Trump, and the Democratic presidential field.

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Jay revisits some old favorites and hails at least one new favorite.

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No, not the Mafia, although the Mafia certainly is one – any mob that forms in politics and society. Kevin Williamson is the author of a new book: “The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics.” He and his friend Jay talk about this, among other issues, such as conservatism, libertarianism, economics, immigration, cars, music, and novels. You may not like every word – but then, you might. Listen in.

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If you want an expert on the Republican party, look to Tim Alberta, the author of the sensational new book American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump. Jay puts him through his paces, and Alberta is in excellent form. He even jabs Jay at the end of the podcast about college football — in response to which, Jay can only smile weakly, dreaming of the approaching season.

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Or rather, three nominees. Plus, Gerard Schwarz, the trumpeter/conductor whom Jay interviewed recently on his “Q&A” (here). This episode provides beauty, wonder, excitement, controversy, solace – it’s music.

Links to the tracks in this week’s show:

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Mona Charen joins Jay for a “Need to Know”-style hour. As of old, they go back and forth – about the flood (not the Noah-related one, but the recent one in Washington, D.C.); the left-wing nuttiness of the Democratic party; troubles – further troubles – in RightWorld; Jeffrey Epstein; the British ambassador; Nancy Reagan; “Miss” and “Mrs.” and “Ms.”; the late Lee Iacocca; and yet more things under the sun.

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George Will once pointed out to George McGovern that he, McGovern, had become a noun, and an ism: “McGovernism.” The same has happened to David French: “David Frenchism.” What is that? French himself discusses it, with Jay. They talk about a slew of things, in a conversation both leisurely and vigorous: Independence Day; Justin Amash and the Republican party; climate change; Antifa and masks; Trump and dictators; Nike and Arizona; Oberlin College and a bakery (it’s always a bakery, isn’t it?); the NBA; Iran; the Tuskegee Airmen … You have a pair of Frenchistas, talking over the world.

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Jay says “Happy Independence Day” with a buffet of American music, starting with “The Banjo” and ending with “America the Beautiful.” In between, you will have many melodies, many voices, all adding up to America. Have a great one.

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Listeners may recall that Jay is a great fan of “University Challenge,” the British quiz show. He has had “UC” contestants as guests on “Q&A” before: the great David Landon Cole and Eric Monkman, who sparked Monkmania, which still has not abated. This time, his guest is Freddy Leo, a standout from the season just past (2018-19). Amazing young man. Is “Freddy Leo” his real name or a stage name? It’s his name, actually – another amazing thing about the guy.

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Introducing this episode, Jay says, “Gonna throw a little ballet at you” – and he does. Some music from ballets. He also throws in some arias, some jazz, and more. An interesting, diverse, soul-pleasing episode. 

Track listing for this show:

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It truly is dazzling, for those who are prepared to be dazzled by it. This episode gives you NBA talk from two of Jay’s regular gurus, David French and Vivek Dave, and a special guest star, Sopan Deb, newly named an NBA writer for the New York Times. (He had been a culture writer before.) Talk ranges from Steph to KD to LeBron and so on and so forth. A wonderful subject, professional basketball, from three guys who really, really know it.

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Mike Brown is the editor of the Rockdale Reporter, in Central Texas. He is one of Jay’s favorite newspapermen and writers. Jay and Kevin Williamson took a road trip to visit Mike and the Reporter – and sat down for a podcast in the bargain. You will very much like getting to know Mike Brown. (Jay and Kevin aren’t bad either.)

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Jay discusses, and plays, an old song: “A Soft Day.” You also have a little music from Brazil. And a composer who escaped the Nazis. And some Cole Porter. Also, what about the question of Wagner? Can you listen to him, SOB that he was? Finally, Franco Zeffirelli died – which leads to a reflection on him, and to an aria. In short, there’s plenty to think about in this episode, and plenty to hear.

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Gerard Schwarz is a leading conductor, and he started out as a leading trumpeter. He is also one of the best talkers about music – best teachers of music – you will ever encounter. Jay asks him to talk about everything from recordings to composers to Louis Armstrong to the future. This is a rich and fascinating hour (and even includes a little singing, at no extra charge).

N.B. The maestro’s volume is low, owing to a technological glitch. But if you can stick with him, using headphones or what have you, it will be well worth it.

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Nasser Weddady is an American of Mauritanian origin. (Mauritania is a nation in northwest Africa.) He is a human-rights activist, and strategist. He works for the Human Rights Foundation, in New York. He grew up in various countries, having a diplomat for a father. As a boy, he was in Moammar Qaddafi’s tent (literally). He also met Hafez Assad. Weddady speaks Hebrew (which is a very interesting story). For years, he has helped people spring their loved ones from prison. That’s what he does. Now he is faced with his own case: His brother, Abderrahmane, is a political prisoner, in Mauritania.

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From Norway, a story about Mrs. Grieg – and some music by Mr. From Israel, some thoughts about Bruch, Bloch, and others. This episode also includes a dollop of Rameau, a spiritual, a heavenly piece by Chopin, and more. Food for thought and soul.

This is a podcast of The New Criterion.

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