THE HEART OF TWO: The Friendship of Famous People. Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé, Ernest Hemingway and Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Taras Shevchenko and Semyon Gulak-Artemovsky
Photo: Rodney Smith, Greg and Colin Photographing Each Other in the Field, Alberta, Canada, 2004
The ability to feel and respond to the feelings of the other person is a necessity in today’s world and the basis for a successful and spiritually rich life. Emotional intelligence has previously been shown to be an important factor in building long-lasting friendships. Narcissistic individuals cannot boast of good lasting friendships.
Friends show a different picture of the world, share emotions and serve as a kind of lens to illuminate certain phenomena in life. Listening to friends, adapting to each other, we develop empathy, learn the world from different sides.
Friendly relationships are also an important resource for objective self-assessment. Famous people are no exception.
We have collected the most striking examples of friendship of famous people.
FREDDIE MERCURY AND MONTSERRAT CABALLÉ
Rock star Freddie Mercury had a dream: to hear his idol Luciano Pavarotti singing. In 1983 he went to London’s Royal Opera House, where he experienced the power of Monserrat Caballé’s voice for the first time in Verdi’s opera Un ballo in maschera. As Mercury would later recall, he sat still while the opera diva’s incomparable bel canto sounded.
The rock musician’s biographers would later point out that it was from that time on that he listened to only one music – the incomparable Montserrat Caballe. The rocker to the end of his days considered the native of Barcelona, the best performer of all time.
In an interview with Spanish television on July 31, 1986 he made no secret of his dream – to sing a duet with Caballe. This rumor reached the opera diva and interested her. They met for the first time at the Ritz Hotel in Barcelona to discuss preparations for the 1972 Olympics. The rock musician and the opera singer had to write a song for the opening of the big event.
They instantly felt a deep respect for each other and their hearts beat in unison. Each of them would later describe the encounter as fateful. It seemed to them as if they had known each other for a thousand years. This meeting was the beginning of their sincere friendship.
Monserrat Caballe recalled: “Freddie turned to me and said: I have a present for you, a song called Exercises In Free Love. Would you be so kind as to perform it when you have time, anywhere, even in the bathroom? The song sounded pianissimo and very, very melodic. And I took the score he handed me to perform it in the future.”
When the opera diva asked Freddie Mercury for a special gift, a song about her hometown, it was already the famous “Barcelona,” the future anthem of the Olympics. They met repeatedly at the rock star’s apartment and talked until morning. For the sake of these gatherings Monserrat neglected her sleep schedule. She was the first person who Freddie Mercury trusted and told about his incurable illness – AIDS.
On October 8, 1988, they sang at La Nit Festival, held on the occasion of the passing of the Olympic torch. Three compositions – among them “Barcelona” – were included in their joint album. Unfortunately, due to the passing of the legendary Freddie Mercury, the friends were never lucky enough to perform the anthem at the opening of the ’92 Olympics. “It’s impossible to replace Freddie with anyone!” – Monserrat told the organizers. The song was played on the recording.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND FRANCIS SCOTT FITZGERALD
American writers Ernest Hemingway and Francis Scott Fitzgerald were true legends. Almost until his death they were bound together by friendship. The biographer Matthew Brookley wrote about it in his 1994 book, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, A Dangerous Friendship.
What did they have in common other than the similar families they both grew up in? Each of the writers led a life that was destructive to them. The only difference was that at a time when Fitzgerald’s career was coming to an end because of his addictions, Hemingway was just beginning to spread his creative wings.
This friendship was both sincere and strange. The already famous Fitzgerald listened to Hemingway in everything, and soon he could not do without him. Hemingway, on the other hand, was often ashamed of his friend, who had to bail him out of various troubles.
“His talent was as natural as the pattern of pollen on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he didn’t understand it any more than the butterfly did, and he didn’t notice how the pattern wore off and faded. Later he realized that his wings were damaged, and he understood how they were arranged, and he learned to think, but he could no longer fly, because his love of flying had disappeared, and all that remained in his memory was how easily he had once flown…” – Hemingway wrote these lines about Fitzgerald after his death.
They met in Paris, in a cafe. After another drink, the author of the successful novel “The Great Gatsby” had already suggested that the author of the then only small collection of short stories “In Our Time” go on an adventurous trip to Lyon, to pick up his car. On this trip they stopped for drinks near every tree along the way.
They both had their “demons”: Fitzgerald drank and completely stopped controlling himself in that state, Hemingway could not cope with marital turmoil and preferred to turn a blind eye to relationship problems by changing wives.
They communicated, responding to each other in their writings. Sometimes they were quite harsh jabs. “I was beginning to get tired of this literary life. I was getting very tired of Scott and all this silly comedy,” wrote Ernest Hemingway in his memoir, “The Holiday That’s Always With You.”
But still the friendship continued. The critic Fitzgerald subtly and delicately added some important remarks to the novel “Goodbye, Guns!”. And these edits, according to literary scholars, contributed to the formation of Ernest Hemingway’s style. They introduced each other to the right people and rejoiced in their successes.
Unfortunately, Fitzgerald’s drinking was the reason why the friends stopped seeing each other often. Shortly before his death, he counted the number of times he and Hemingway met. “Four times in eleven years. Since the 26th year, in fact, no longer friends,” he wrote in his diary.
TARAS SHEVCHENKO AND SEMEN GULAK-ARTEMOVSKY
The well-known singer and composer, author of the first national opera “Zaporozhets Za Danayem” Semen Stepanovich Gulak-Artemovsky was one of the most faithful and devoted friends of Taras Shevchenko.
Even the music to the lyrics of the folk song “Stoit yavir nad vodoyu”, which was first performed in the performance “Moskal-Charivnyk”, Gulak-Artemovsky posthumously dedicated to his friend. The dedication is inscribed on the title page of the 1860 edition of the song. The melody, which was born in one of the musical evenings in St. Petersburg, became his favorite song.
Shevchenko writes very fondly about his friend in his diaries: “At three o’clock I came home and embraced my beloved Semyon Artemovsky. And in two hours I was already in his house, like in my own home. There was a lot that we knew and talked about, and even more that we could neither guess nor talk about. Two hours went by faster than a single twinkle”.
During Taras Shevchenko’s exile, a friend took care of him, repeatedly sending financial aid. He tried to be very delicate, saying that he was just returning the money for the pictures, painted by Kobzar. Once he said that the money was a gift from an unknown benefactor who cared about the fate of the exiled man.
“Is there such a great soul in the world – one that would remember me in distant captivity … There are no such great souls in the world now. Yours alone survived and gave me a poem so heartfelt that I am still reading and weeping. You’re a great poet” – wrote Taras Shevchenko. Obviously, he realized that Semen Gulak-Artemovsky himself helps him.
The first thing Shevchenko did after his release from exile in 1857, rushed to St. Petersburg – to meet his friend. Every day they would gather in the composer’s apartment, organize literary and musical evenings, stay up late and even sing a duet. Gulak-Artemovsky noted that Shevchenko had a very strong voice, and the number of folk songs that he knew would be the envy of any choir.
The friendship between them lasted until the last days of Taras Shevchenko’s life. After the funeral, Semen Gulak-Artemovsky organized a charity concert to collect aid for his friend’s family. That sad evening he sang a favorite song of Shevchenko.
But it seems that his sadness never went away again – because Gulak-Artemovsky was one of those who perfectly understood what a genius Ukraine had lost.