I just noticed that Balint Vazsonyi passed away last week. He was not only a concert pianist, but a lover of America. I met him only once. It was in Washington about four years ago, and Lee Edwards introduced me to him. I hadnt heard of him until then. Lee explained that Mr. Vazsonyi was a great lover of the country and had established an organization to promote the principles of the American Founding. Mr. Vazsonyi, of course, did not know I was also born in Hungary or what what my work was. In his irrepressibly Hungarian way he started lecturing me about the nobility of the Founding and implied that he was the only person in the world who understood these things, and how it was his duty to teach the natives. Well, this was an opportunity I couldnt resist! So, as Lee Edwards the gentleman looked on in utter panic, I proceeded to tell Mr. Vazsonyi that I was sick and tired of all manner of foreigners coming to my country and telling us how to think about ourselves. I stayed with this theme for more than a few minutes, but, of course Vazsonyi, being-Hungarian-and-all, just kept rhapsodizing about the Founding with pretty good arguments and scholarship as if all he had to do was keep talking to persuade another ill-educated native about his own country. Well, Lee was standing there ill at ease through all this, so finally I let the cat out of the bag and told the great pianist (in Hungarian) that we were both Americans born in the wrong place and I understood what he understood and he could stop browbeating me now. And he did. And Lee was able to take a breath; the joke worked. May this American Rest in Peace.
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