It was a Friday night back then, but on November 14, 1980--twenty-six years ago today--I was in the concert hall at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for a celebration of Aaron Copland’s eightieth birthday. The National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich, was honoring America’s greatest composer with a concert of his greatest music, including Appalachian Spring. Copland was there--and so was Leonard Bernstein.
When President and Mrs. Carter arrived at their box, the crowd in the hall greeted them with a long standing ovation. It was a poignant moment. Ten days earlier, on November 4, the United States marked the first anniversary of the hostage crisis in Tehran. And on that same day, Jimmy Carter lost the election in which I cast my first vote for president.