So that’s what happens on vacation: you still read, but you don’t bother writing about it. A couple things that struck me particularly in this reading:
And suddenly they started singing the second verse as if of their own accord, following the lead of Kosarchuk, whose pitch may not have been perfect, but who did have quite a pleasant high tenor. They finished the second verse. Still no choirmaster! They went back to their places, but before they could manage to sit down, they started singing against their will. It was beyond their power to stop. They would be quiet for three minutes or so, and then start up again. At this point they realized that something bad had happened. Mortified, the director locked himself in his office. (p. 163)
What this brings to my mind is the forced patriotism of Communist Russia, where any acts against government were seen as high treason, thoughts if dared to be revealed at all were whispered, and a false bravado, an obvious if false loyalty needed to cloak true beliefs.
And this has to be one of my favorites amid the chaos:
The reason for his trip to Moscow was a telegram received late in the evening two days before. It said, "I have just been cut in half by a streetcar at Patriarch’s. Funeral Friday 3 P.M. Come. Berlioz."