The 50 Most Romantic Things Ever Doneby Dini Von Mueffling
A box of chocolates, a bunch of flowerslovely but gone in an instant. Here, in a book that can be treasured forever, are fifty priceless bouquets of romance for the person you love. From Antony and Cleopatra to Hepburn and Tracy, from the Taj Mahal to the Rainbow Room, The 50 Most Romantic Things Ever Done gathers the most extraordinary stories of what historical figures, celebrities, and just plain folks have done for love.
Among the unforgettable tales: the woman who looked into the eyes of a handsome stranger on a plane and knew at once he was the man she would marryand how they eventually connected; Carole Lombard's special Valentine's Day gift to Clark Gable; the couple who ran off to live together on a tropical island of their own in the South Pacific; the real story that inspired the classic rock hit "Layla"; and forty-six other true stories that will capture your heart.
The 50 Most Romantic Things Ever Done is irresistible readinga book for the incurable romantic in us all.
A journalist who has written for major newspapers and magazines and has produced for television news, Dini Von Mueffling is also the president of Love Heals, an organization dedicated to AIDS awareness and prevention in young people. She lives in New York City.
- Doubleday Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.76(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.62(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Man Across the Aisle
Jane L. was flying from New York to Washington on business. As she sat on the shuttle, she noticed a well-dressed, handsome man across the aisle from her, reading the newspaper. There was something about the man that made Jane incapable of taking her eyes off him. During the flight, she kept looking over at him, and soon he was glancing back at her. Crazy as it may have seemed, even though she hadn't spoken to him, she found herself thinking, "That's the man I'm going to marry." When they got off the plane, they continued to glance in each others' direction, but were too shy to speak.
At the taxi stand, Jane stood ahead of her mystery man. Time was quickly running out and she began to worry. She was next in line; the cab arrived, and with one look back she got in. As it began to pull away, she looked out the window and saw the man running after her car. "Stop," she cried out to the driver, but by then they had pulled too far out into the quick-moving traffic Jane looked out the back window, as they drew farther and faster away, she could see the man was waving madly to her. Quickly, she reached into her bag and scrawled her number on a piece of paper, pressing it against the cab's rear window. But he was too far away to read it.
A short time later, while at her business meeting, a distressed Jane could not focus on work, thinking only that she had seen the man she was going to marry and then had lost him. It was unbearable. Feigning illness, she bolted from the meeting and headed back to the airport
"Of course!" she realized. "He had no baggage! He'll be returning to New York today too."
Jane sat in the shuttle departurearea at National, waiting. Every hour she scanned the passengers boarding the shuttle, but there was no sign of him. By the last flight at nine she was at a loss for what else to do, so she reluctantly got on the plane back to New York. During the flight, her mind raced back and forth, alternating between figuring out how she was going to try to find him and thinking that she must be insane to have behaved so rashly. At the sight of Manhattan's skyscrapers, she realized her cause was lost. She debarked from the shuttle for the second time that day, only now with dejection. Stepping into the gate area, she looked ahead. And there he was.
"What took you so long?" he asked. "I've been waiting all day."
There is no greater romantic gesture that an artist can make than to be inspired by and create for his love. Such was the gift that the great composer Richard Wagner presented to his wife, Cosima, on the occasion of her thirty-third birthday, on Christmas Day in 1870.
Cosima was the daughter of the pianist and composer Franz Liszt, the nineteenth century's greatest musical idol. The young Cosima, who was pretty and clever, was educated in musical instruction by one of her father's pupils and acolytes, a famous pianist and conductor, Hans von Bulow. Von Bulow was smitten by Cosima, who in turn was flattered by his attention and accepted his proposal of marriage.
The marriage turned out to be a passionless one, however, and Cosima soon discovered that all of Hans's energy went into his music. They remained a couple nonetheless, and in 1858 they visited Wagner in Zurich at the home of a wealthy banking family who were admirers of his. Wagner was already famous as a composer and as a radical thinker. Like Franz Liszt, he was a notorious womanizer, carrying on an affair with his host's wife at the time, although he was married.
Wagner was also writing the poem and a portion of the music to his most sensual opera, Tristan und Isolde, based on the legendary love story. Tristan's libretto was read by Cosima, who found herself profoundly disturbed by the feelings it stirred in her. She also found herself falling in love with the composer, with whom the von Bulows had become close friends. Five years later, Wagner came to Berlin to visit the von Bulows, and his and Cosima's long-simmering attraction for each other blossomed. They became lovers.
Over the next half decade, their relationship became the music world's most notorious open secret. Wagner became a widower when his wife died in 1866, but Cosima was still married and the mother of two children. Von Bulow seemed not to have cared about the affair, which he must have known about; rather, he was devoted to Wagner's music, even conducting the premier of Tristan und Isolde. During this time Cosima gave birth to two more daughters, Isolde and Eva, this time by Wagner.
Wagner took up residence in a villa called "Triebschen," near Lucerne in Switzerland. Cosima finally reconciled her situation. She left von Bulow and took up "officially" with Wagner. The two married in 1868 and resided in Triebschen.
On Christmas morning of 1870, Wagner presented her with the most beautiful gift he could give her. Cosima described the scene in her diary:
When I awoke I heard a sound, swelling ever more, until I could no longer believe I was dreaming. Music sounded, and what music! When it stopped, R. came to me with the five children and handed me the score of the Symphonic Birthday Greetings. I dissolved in tears. Everybody wept. R. had placed his orchestra on the staircase and sanctified our Triebschen forever.
After the family--and an astonished Nietzsche, who was visiting--ate breakfast, Wagner raised his baton again. This time the orchestra played Lohengrin's bridal march, the Septet of Beethoven, and then, once again, the Treibschen Idyll, as the piece of music had been named. Although the piece was meant to remain private, Wagner later used themes from it in his opera Siegfried. For this reason, and also to commemorate the birth of their son Siegfried the year before, the title was then changed to Siegfried Idyll. Cosima regretted that the beautiful composition was no longer solely hers, but hoped she would be compensated by the enjoyment others would have in hearing it.
Some years later, Cosima and Wagner moved to Bayreuth, where they established the Wagner Festival, and remained together until his death. Fiercely loyal to her great love, she continued to run the festival until she died in 1930.
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