In Memory of Roger Moore: Musical Bonds with James Bond

Total Croatia News

TCN’s Miso Mihocevic founded the Festival of Chamber Music in Dubrovnik, just one of his great many achievements within the city. With that, came an unusual friendship with no less than the late, great Roger Moore.

I founded ”Julian Rachlin and Friends” quite by accident. Rachlin, a reputed violinist by then, was performing at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival of which I was the General Manager. He fell in love with a local girl, and kept cancelling his further concerts. I swear, I have never seen a plane ticket so thick with one sticker upon the other. After some days, when it seemed he would leave, I thought it was appropriate to share a drink. The day was nearing its end, the hotel beach was almost empty and bathing in an enchanting sunset, just like the eternal City Walls on one, and the little island on the other side.

The sea was calm like a big lake of oil, the drink was refreshing. He told me about his love for chamber music. I offered him a new stage I was planning to create on the island in front (just one of many dreams that never come true), like, a series of concerts with any of his friends he wanted to bring along. That was mainly it. And it happened, on another stage, for some 10 consecutive years.

The one day Rachlin called to tell me he had met Sir Roger Moore, at a concert, somewhere. We all met, and it took minutes for Roger to be absolutely sure he would come. The dates, however, coincided with his gorgeous wife Kristina’s birthday, but there music was the best gift – we dedicated one entire concert to her celebration, with all in the audience singing. Once more, it was music that bonds.

He of course wanted to take part, as a young actor he had filmed some small role in Dubrovnik and had all the nicest memories of it, and, of course, as a UNICEF ambassador of goodwill. We should do something for the kids. I came upon the idea of organising an auction of paintings, after our last concert of the season. Many contacts, UNICEF’s approval and lots of prominent artists’ goodwill later, finally came the evening so special, so very special that no words can describe. For God sake: we had James Bond reciting at the closing of the Festival (The Carnival of Animals by Camille Saint-Saens, a joyful and unusual piece of music anybody can/must listen to!) And then the auction, my first to anchor in my life, all paintings sold, quite some sum for the kids. Unforgettable.

That so very special occasion gave us all so much more than just enjoying his perfect interpretation with his stunning voice of the 14 small poems in between the movements of the Carnival. Unlike any idea of what a celebrity could be in real life (yes, they do come in all sorts of images and apparitions, sometimes), Roger never needed anything. He was okay with whatever he was offered, was always ready to attend, especially with anything that could boost the event.

One day after lunch, it happened that the two of us remained alone. On the way out from the restaurant I realised we were passing right by the house of the legendary Dusko Popov, the biggest spy of all times, whose real life inspired Ian Fleming to create the figure of James Bond. Roger was stunned. And I was proud.

Minutes later in the main street, Roger offers a cup of coffee – to make us seen, so more people will come to the concert. Many recognised him, of course. Honestly, I cannot remember whether it was then or one year later, when a big bunch of Spanish tourists spotted us at that same café – a middle aged woman asked for a photo, then followed the others, many others, that is, and Roger patiently smiled and posed with everybody. Then some of those days he was nowhere to be found. He had discovered the best squid ink risotto in the world, and could not refrain.

We never saw him at lunchtime again.

Time with him was so precious. If his lovely, caring wife Kristina was at some safe distance, Roger immediately had a handful of dirty jokes, sometimes connected with his famous pals or with some stories from a youthful time of debauchery they had as young upcoming stars in Hollywood.

And this, I think, is my point – Roger was an easy going, warm, simple, loving person whose artistic talents acquired him world fame. In his eyes, his artistry and fame provided for a comfortable life in which he could give more love to his family, more attention to his friends, more of his endless love for all the children of this world.

Roger is gone now, but I will keep meeting him along the invisible paths of music that has bonded us for eternity, just last night I scrolled through my phone and found his personal number, I couldn’t resist sending a thank you message – in the hope that somehow, he sees it.


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