When the very recently eliminated Pablo...

BACK IN 1982-83,

December 04, 1993

BACK IN 1982-83, when the very recently eliminated Pablo Escobar was at the height of his power as the cocaine "Godfather" of Colombia, he made a habit of buying politicians, industrialists, clergymen and journalists.

He also ordered assassinations in all four categories, but that's another story.

The tale here concerns what appeared in his own newspaper, Medellin Civico.

As quoted by American journalists Guy Gugliotta and Jeff Leen in their 1988 book, "Kings of Cocaine," one Civico columnist thus described his gangster-boss:

"Yes, I remember him . . . his hands almost priestlike, drawing parabolas of friendship and generosity in the air. Yes, I know him, his eyes weeping because there is not enough bread for all the nation's dinner tables. I have watched his tortured feelings when he sees street children -- angels without toys, without a present, without a future."

At last Colombia can breathe easier now that Escobar was killed two days ago while trying to escape a police dragnet.

At last, he has no future.

* * *

IT HAD TO happen. After all the raves and hype over Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conductor David Zinman's recording of Polish composer Henryk Gorecki's Third Symphony with the London Symphonietta, the compact disc that raced to the top of both the classical and the pop charts in Britain and leads all classical sales in Baltimore, some sour grapes were bound to be squeezed.

The squeezer is none other than the brilliant British conductor Simon Rattle, who is planning concerts and recordings of another Polish composition, Szymanowski's Symphony No. 3, "Song of the Night" and "Stabat Mater."

Quoted in Music magazine, a publication sponsored by the BBC, Mr. Rattle rattles thusly when asked if he can lead a Szymanowski revival:

"Well, if something as musically thin and insubstantial as Gorecki's Third Symphony can make such a colossal impact, then the last movement of the Stabat Mater has the potential too. . ."

"Rattle is lost for words," the article continues. "He welcomes the cult of the Gorecki, inasmuch as it has reached people -- he doesn't doubt its sincerity, but he bemoans the fact that a prerequisite of success would seem to be 'easy assimilation.'

" 'It's the Philip Glass syndrome: instant music. It's a matter of enthusing people, isn't it? A matter of persuading them that something is worth the perseverance, worth their input. I think we do them a disservice if we say, "You can love this because it's easy." And let's face it, people are only going to do things by the pleasure principle -- they're not going to do anything because it's good for them.' "

So what does Maestro Zinman have to say about all that?

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