The Violin Dreams of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

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Antonin Scalia is one of the most talked about Justices on the Supreme Court, known for his unflinching conservatism and hard-hitting opinions. He is also a passionate music-lover and in this wide-ranging and candid interview with host Gilbert Kaplan, he reveals the enduring power of music in his life:

— Though he became “really quite good” at the piano, he reveals why he hasn’t played in 15 years.

— He recounts his experience as a super (extra) at the Washington Opera when a “perky little participant” suddenly jumped upon his lap -- not his “most notable theatrical performance”, he concludes.

— Bach is his choice for background music when writing opinions.

— Whether being forced to hear modern hard rock with its “noise and ugliness” might constitute cruel and unusual punishment as envisioned in the Constitution.

— Favorite singers: Renée Fleming, Plácido Domingo, Cecilia Bartoli; pianists: Glenn Gould; conductors: Georg Solti, Wilhelm Furtwängler.

— Two musical fantasies: “To be a good tenor” and to play the violin.

— His musical selections included works by Strauss, Handel, Boyce and Brahms.

This episode is the third of four shows with political personalities leading up to the election.


Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier, “Is halt vorbei” from Act III. Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus. Herbert von Karajan. EMI 7 49354 2.

Fritz Kreisler: Liebesleid. Joshua Bell, violin; Paul Coker, piano. Decca D 112473.

George Frederic Handel: Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment) “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa” (“Leave the thorn, pluck the rose”). Les Musiciens du Louvre. Marc Minkowski. Cecilia Bartoli. Decca B0005151-02.

James Edwards, James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd McRae: "Sh-Boom,” The Chords. Flashback R2 72716.

William Boyce: Symphony No. 1, third movement. The English Concert. Trevor Pinnock. Archiv 419 631-2.

Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem [excerpt]. Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. Monteverdi Choir. John Eliot Gardiner. Philips D 115329.