Emanuel Ax has been cutting a wide swath through a thicket of classical piano recitals and competitions and is emerging at 24 as a virtuoso soloist to watch (and hear). Triumphant in Belgium and at the International Chopin Competition in Poland—the country from which he and his family emigrated in 1959—Ax more recently returned from a recital tour in Central America to an impressive performance of the Liszt A-Major Concerto with the National Symphony in Washington and a warmly received recital in New York. He has made one record—of his award-winning program at the Chopin competition. A burly man with what critics describe as a “steely-fingered command,” Ax nonetheless has a poetic phrasing and tone quality. He took up the piano at 6, but gained a B.A. in French at Columbia before studying at Juilliard under the esteemed Mieczyslaw Munz. An unaffected young musician, Ax still returns to his mother’s Manhattan apartment between increasingly successful concert tours.
Richard Price manages a rueful grin as he reflects that he’ll be paying more taxes in this his 24th year than that whole gang of Bronx hoods who used to beat him to hamburg as a kid. With a hefty film option, paperback sales and royalties accruing from his brilliant first novel The Wanderers, he is on the verge of wealth. And yet the real breakthrough in his life, as Price now realizes, is probably better symbolized by the mere 350 subway token that separates his Manhattan apartment today from the stultifying, brutalizing Bronx housing projects from which he had to flee before he found that he could write about them. “It’s not a conviction; it’s an obsession,” admits Price of his craving to escape. Even after graduation from Cornell and writing fellowships at Stanford and Columbia, he could not break away until writing the book clarified in his own mind the full horror of the place. To read his blunt, dialogue-rich depiction of a coming of age on the slum-sick streets and paved playgrounds of the Bronx is to understand why.
Jerry Brown, son of former California Governor Pat Brown, may be cast in his father’s image by Democrats currently favoring him 2-to-1 to lead the party back to the statehouse. But for a while in the late ’50s, Brown was heeding the call of a very different Father. A Catholic, he spent four years preparing for the priesthood, before switching to the Yale Law School. Though he marched with Chicano organizer Cesar Chavez in the early ’60s and worked for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, Jerry was sufficiently immersed in the political mainstream to be the only Democrat elected to statewide office—secretary of state—in the Reagan sweep of 1970.
His successful battle to use gas taxes for rapid transit funding and his role in uncovering some improprieties in Nixon’s donation of his vice-presidential papers have enhanced Brown’s popularity. Though not noted for his father’s earthy warmth, Jerry, a bachelor of 35, evidently does not lack for charm. He frequently dated actress Natalie Wood before her remarriage and of late has been spotted at the side of Norway’s stunning star Liv Ullmann.