Editor's Memo, June 2012: Maestro Kurt Masur and Westchester Doctors on Mortality



Photo by Cathy Pinsky

I’m not your Beethoven kind of gal. More Jagger and Springsteen than Bach and Brahms. Last summer, however, when my husband and I were vacationing in the Berkshires, we attended the Tanglewood Music Festival. It was our introduction to one of the world’s most distinguished conductors, Kurt Masur. Let’s just say I bought a Beethoven CD as soon as I got home.

Masur, it turns out, lives in Westchester with his wife, Tomoko. We asked Susan Hodara, who writes about the arts from her home office in Mount Kisco, to visit the couple at their home and profile them. Susan admits to having been nervous. “But as soon as he and Tomoko answered the door and welcomed me, I relaxed,” she reports. “I was moved by the closeness between Kurt and Tomoko, and by how she looked out for him—steadying him when he stood, encouraging him to share details of his experiences. When she spoke about her husband, she’d look at him with great love.

“I felt privileged to be invited into the Masurs’ personal life,” Susan adds. “When we said goodbye, he handed me a book about him, and some CDs of his and Tomoko’s recordings. And I was no longer nervous at all. I was inspired.” Turn to page 40 to read about the Maestro and his wife.

Susan Hodara

Freelance writer Jacob Sugarman says he didn’t know what to expect from the doctors he interviewed for his feature on how doctors deal with their own end-of-life options (“What Doctors Talk About When They Talk About Death,” page 78). Most of us are not confortable talking about death, certainly not our own. Would doctors be any different? “Four or five interviews in, I started getting a little anxious,” Jacob, an Eastchester native currently living in Brooklyn, admits. “The doctors each seemed almost pathologically comfortable talking about their own deaths. By interview seven or so, it began to feel like there was something telling about this sameness—like if you stare long enough at one of those magic eye prints, a picture of a sailboat emerges. So, while the article is ostensibly about doctors prescribing different treatments for themselves than they would for their patients, I’d like to think that it’s really about how their proximity to death affects their outlook, and how even the sturdiest of coping mechanisms ultimately fail.”

Jacob Sugarman

Did working on this article affect him? “I’m not sure I can really say it has. Maybe I’m still just young enough to believe, subconsciously, that I’m immortal. I don’t have a living will, nor do I plan to take one out anytime soon, but I think I’d be more inclined to dot my i’s and cross my t’s if I ever grew seriously ill. Having a healthcare proxy seems like something of a no-brainer.”

Oh dear. Wouldn’t want to end my memo on a down note. Besides, it’s summertime. And, lucky for us all, Articles Editor Marisa LaScala has gathered info on all the exciting, exhilarating, and entertaining things you can do for the next 90 days in and around Westchester. Anyone for geocaching?

Esther Davidowitz               
Editor-in-Chief

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