My favorite things Swiss

I am here only briefly, to talk about how America funds the arts.  Of course my favorite thing Swiss is Switzerland itself; in that sense I agree with the natives.  But to get more specific:

1. Sculptor: Alberto Giacometti is the obvious choice, runner-up is Jean Arp.  The smaller the Giaocometti sculpture, the better it is likely to be.  You could say the same for Calder.

2. Drama: I’ll opt for Durrenmatt’s The Visit of the Old Lady or The Physicians, or Max Frisch’s Don Juan, or the Love of Geometry.  I like these better than any Swiss novel.

3. Painter: These days I find Paul Klee repetitive.  Arnold Boecklin and Ferdinand Hodler are both consistently interesting, if not always consistent.  Try this Hodler.  Here is the most famous BoecklinHenry Fuseli, who moved to England and became a perverse quasi-Romantic, remains underrated.

4. Novel: I don’t know of a great Swiss novel, unless you count Rousseau’s Heloise for its historical value.  Max Frisch’s Gantenbein is one runner-up.  Robert Walser has his moments.

5. Music: This one gets tough.  Honegger bores me.  I will listen to Frank Martin, though he is not a favorite.  Paul Hindemith was of Swiss-German extraction but born in Germany.  He would otherwise win hands down.  Edwin Fischer was a wonderful Bach pianist.  Swiss popular music is too ghastly to contemplate, as is the folk music.

6. Actress: Can I say Ursula Andress?

7. Movie, set in: I still like George Lazenby’s Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Extra: You’ve also got Saussure, the Bernoullis, and the Eulers, not to mention Le Corbusier.  There is an overall inclination toward the mechanical, the scientific, and the systematizing.  Perhaps that is why music is so weak.

The bottom line: It is not just cuckoo clocks (as Orson Welles had suggested), which in any case do not originate in Switzerland. 


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