Yesterday I was honored and humbled to attend the Maurice Sendak Memorial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. First of all, I loved that it was at the Met. As one speaker noted, there was something lovely about the big Ms everywhere, for us they were for Maurice the artist as much as for the museum. One of many epiphanies I had listening to the wonderful speakers, music, and seeing the art was that Maurice Sendak was not only a seminal person in the world of books for children, but was one of the greatest American artists of the past 100 years. And so I only hope that before long this is recognized with an exhibit at the Met. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
On the screen was a lovely simple sketch of the young Mozart. It stayed there in between the other images until the end when it was replaced by the moving final image (also on the program above) of Jenny at the end of Higglety Pigglety Pop!. I cannot even begin to describe the wonderful speeches and presentations and just hope that they will be made available in some form in the near future. I did not take notes so the best I can do is provide the program below with annotations and then a few more links to other reports of this very special event.
- An excerpt from the documentary film Tell Them Anything You Want, directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze.
- Michael Di Capua, Sendak’s longtime editor.
- Ali Bahrampour who was a Sendak Fellow.
- Art Spiegelman who spoke about a brilliant collaboration that he and Sendak did for the New Yorker.
- Illustrator Richard Egielski who did one of my all time favorite Cinderella variants, Ugh, written by Al Yorinks who was also at the memorial.
- “Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow” by John Keats, read by Brad Kessler.
- Judy Taylor Hough, his British editor, who spoke about some of what is also in this piece in yesterday’s Guardian. The bit about the mouse was almost unbearably moving.
- Jonathan Weinberg, connected through Sendak’s partner Eugene Glynn spoke of that part of Sendak’s, a part several other good book friends of his told me they’d never heard of before.
- “Abendsegen” from Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck, sung by the Spence School Chamber Chorus.
- Tony Kushner who organized the event.
- No-Nose by Maurice Sendak, read by Catherine Keener.
- Lynn Caponera, Sendak’s longtime friend and assistant was the final speaker.
- An excerpt from an interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air,” September 20,2011.
- Act Three, scene 2 Finale from Falstaff by Guiseppe Verdi, from Arturo Toscanini’s NBC radio recording, April 1, 1950 accompanied a glorious montage of covers from Sendak’s many, many, many books.