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Conversation with on Tal Durante. This is another in a continuing series of programs each of which offers the listener a rare opportunity to hear an eminent musician informally discussing his own career and expressing his thoughts about a variety of topics related to the art of music. The regular participants in these discussions are Aaron Parsons professor of music theory at Northwestern University's School of Music and program annotator for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And George Stone program director for Zenith radio corporation's serious music station WEAA FM in Chicago. Mr. Parsons and Mr. Stone have as their guest on today's program the distinguished conductor and composer. I'm Tal Durante was born in Budapest studied with talk and code. And in 1934 began a six year in Gage meant as conductor of the Ballet Russe Dimona Kano in 1945 he was appointed director of the Dallas
Symphony and in 1949 succeeded Dmitri metropolis as conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra a post he held for 11 years. He is the present musical director of the Stockholm Philharmonic. Now here is George Stone with the garage. You have just come back from Orchestra Hall after what must have been a very tiring afternoon. How does it feel to be confronted with us at this point. Well I think it's very well easy because yeah you know these tiring being tired after a concert is not really being tired it's being spent but when he saw keyed up that it is really good to do something after. I couldn't rest now I couldn't sleep not for four five hours. It wouldn't go. This is partly physical I would imagine nerves and I think it's a nervous tension and the release from the concentration does not result in tiredness but gate free activity of the brain.
How about prior to a concert. Do you feel tension. Oh yes that mounts the tension mounts when he's very anxious after so many thousands of concerts which one has given in one's life. You think it gets better it gets worse just a little harder isn't really resentful and sits there until now. All my life I don't think everything was wrong now I will be denied. Yes but how I mean you know I knew id and all I should have ears that way I should have done this and it accumulates and it probably that is part of it and one you know goes on the podium and I like a loaded gun in a vast work like the mother do you find the truth you make changes in this kind of ideas of interpretation from one performance to another for example say last night I was speaking of a Mahler symphony number so huge work which Mr. De Ruyter has just conducted two performances last night and this
afternoon with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. What here really applied to yesterday is changes in the IDF. Not really I don't think unless you really something happens that I discover something which I didn't know. Discovery yesterday and I discovered even today that can happen but the changes are rather changes of temperature so the sea is the same I these were going to seem measures but something is different. There is there is they are not all performances are alike and they shouldn't be. You know work like the mower or for that matter in any kind of conducting I am I believe that one of the greatest problems you have isn't in discovering or finding in a hall the proper balance of the vast resources you have over 100 well over 100 musicians years. Mahler 6. Thought for the Mozart that Mozart violin concerto in a major that preceded it you have less than 30. That's right.
You have a complete change of scenery. You still have to achieve in this hall that is relatively new to you with a minimum of rehearsal preceding days. This this kind of balance that will. Yes it right in each of them that is very correct that is one of the chief jobs of a conductor that's we that we have to use our hall as their own violinist uses his violin as our sound box and naturally when one goes down on his new one opens one's ears and one finds that out as soon as one can leave within the first minutes of the first two years of one tries to orient oneself and then of course experience helps a great deal. And one can imagine how this is how the whole of the sound with the people in it. When I rehearse in an empty hall. Is that a relatively simple thing to do or is it a terribly
difficult thing to do. This business of projecting what it's going to be like when there are bodies in there to soak up some of the sound. Do you rhyme sometimes they do. Well I'm guessing you don't know if it's difficult it's impossible. Oh you see if it is even easier it is impossible because in the end because each one can find the ones we know and that depends on the hall and there depends on the man you know I saw I supposed to have this talent to make a nice noise in every hall I go that support that is that is direct one of the requisites of this profession. That's what so impressed me last evening on here in this Mahler 6 was this tremendous balance. And not only that this very complex score that is so contrapuntal. That I could hear as I have not heard before. There's this kind of a vertical vertical texture of the contrapuntal lines that came through and that's why I'm very glad to hear that it did and I was I have got no basis of
comparison because I heard very few occasion or creation or music making other than my own in this whole and mine very few so I don't know how it compares. But naturally this is what I tried. This is a very linear composition that's going through every instrument plays an intelligent melody and intelligent more to use it is there is there is very few will have money feeling in this very little harmonic feeling of practically nothing and I was so impressed with the way you were able to achieve this balance of these individual lines in a relatively short time. A new hall with a new orchestra but the orchestra is very fairly good and the fun tells them what is expected about what I want. They do it right away. I found out just are not only good but very interested very keen. It was one of the most agreeable five days I had with a marxist certainly played their heart out for you and steve yes. Well I conducted
my heart out for them and they played their heart for me but it was either for them or for me it was for the music we did. You made your conducting debut team. That's right and this was in Budapest. Yes well they got nothing the viewer really is very difficult to think about it you know if you mean the view that was you mean the very first time I conducted or you mean the first professional your first not your Fashion Hall and gauge man. Yes as a conductor. Yes that was with 18 years. One hour I would take it from what you say than that you had had some prior experience was that with student orchestras. Yes and I mature orchestras and I organize in my school in my high school I was quite a little boy. I organized my orchestra. Oh I had yes and I it was a really successful you know going to Beijing because I had a very brilliant idea to ask the teachers to let the members of the orchestra have a rehearsal instead of one lesson. And lo and behold the teachers permitted it and
this was the most popular thing in the whole school. I had also provided by a straw Dorati with his peers workers for the practice of boys started to learn instruments just in order to be able to play in the orchestra so they could miss a lesson or get out because it was a start the Academy of Music and grew up on what it was in my you know high school in the wake of the sisters before you went to the academy before and during I mean the two schools separately you know I see McCain is leaving things. You were born in Budapest. I was born here and your father was a violinist my father was a violinist in the opera orchestra and the operas you operand Philharmonic is the same with it or get it the same way in Bolivia's like in Vienna. And your mother also has my mother of a musician too a fine musician it enormous talent she looks at an instrument and already knows how to play it at all nor has it has its who plays the piano violin viola. Did you have instruction from your parents you know as a child and little
thought of an instruction it was unknown because they thought he thought its much better there and they had the right idea that one should get instruction from a stranger. But of course we made much music together in the house you know everybody played several instruments and we could do all sorts of chamber music at home. What was your instrument. Piano and cello. How do you consider yourself still a pianist or a cellist as well-known doctor know I played a piano fairly well. Still yes the cello I play now very badly. Or rather not at all. Given that up. And they got I would not like to play public performances and apparently I did something about six seven years ago I did it once a while but I think it's now just too much I gotta practice. I'd be very interested in your experiences at the Academy of Music in Budapest where you started piano cello
probably and composition Yes all three and especially we would like to hear about the teachers you had in the course and speaking of bar talk and could I guess well Vyner also hold down our story as well. Van there I had a year of harmony study before I went to the academy and that was very interesting and then Vyner gave me handed me to call guy or who was my official teacher it is always said that I was a pupil of water when in school books you will not find this I was not. Because he didn't hit the piano to me and he didn't teach anything else but you never taught composition he refused to know about in another way and it is not incorrect to say that I work a lot with Patrick because he had a seven hour of folklore and I worked with him on this for four years very much. And although I didn't get any grades for
that that it was much work and very interesting. What what what was the nature of this work. Did you go into the field with him to know I mean we're into the field we did the cataloguing in there sorting and estimating we did this very little work of the collected material to do new transcriptions we do from recordings that he didn't believe that. But more than that the early transcriptions also were by that time when I was about 12 years old or for 30 years all the transcriptions were almost all down this was a huge collection of more than 10000. Remember this is a these were all collected in the future let's say in the last 10 years of the 19th century and in the first 10 years of Cliff twenty one market of recording was used for those who have often wanted to hear then recording of the time I had I seen those you know those are the sommelier cylinder of his little cylinders of racks and the air and they made a horrible noise that is still there recorded what was needed and this very fine musicians with extremely
fine yet they were able to take it down very clearly I mean sumptuous transcriptions but I hope my work on the transcription was not more than let's say 50 60 and they varied the thousands of Eragon by that when I said that's a very interesting study in itself it will be worthwhile. Really one says that you should devote some time just explaining this to listeners because it's very fascinating. It gives a complete picture of the whole culture of course everything would you know you can you can do as proof. I mean influence the course of music trash Yes and vice a versa any way you can you can deduct historical facts from your household at full of biological facts you can deduct from the appearance and disappearance and travel of folk songs but in history as a just as kind of friends that you know that the people and if I mean the
people that use that is a land you know like I would say the French French people the German people a group of humanity like that has a full glory life span and at one point it dries out and the fork which is the people who are many of their thoughts are always the presence and it becomes about that at one point they will not produce anymore new realities. It's very interesting it's very interesting and this if you want to read transpose this in you or other researchers This would probably give you a few cents to what happens in these people all of the other otherwise we of course can see it when they are in the by and large it is then the great phase of political and economic unity is being achieved and then there's such realistic progress are being made then the 4.3 is getting weaker.
I would suppose this is true because so much of music is in a way related to adversity can even enjoy your times of adversity you know. Well they are the work done was completed there at the academy at Techonomy bar talk. Could I have yes. Yes and carried forward as if this were any mentally interesting and there has been no by published if it was long delayed and mishandled affair and now it is being published and it is not being published I'm sorry to say either way but I did plan it it has been diluted and there is all sorts of other points of view plot points of UK mean bitch. We didn't want to consider differences of patients many may have a history of malice when their song for weddings or for work or for holy days that is
again that is that is an ethnographic point of view but that is not a musical one. So we wanted really a very pure musical presentation which has been there in the space and to some extent I wonder if we could get to other aspects of your education there at the Academy of Music in Budapest. You also study composition. Yes. While you were there music education in Hungary was and is very good and very thorough. And yes there is nothing connected with music which was not taught there and it was made in such a system that every major had their own minor studies subsidiary studies but it was not so like it is here that a student can select what he or she wants to study it was told. If I if I came into the pianist class that I was told what else I have to have and if I came into the composition class I was told what else I have to have and it was not up to me to choose there was this
on the basis of aptitude. Was it necessary first of all to qualify. It was necessary to qualify for the main study. Yes and then here and there it is. It was not changing individually in every gone every composer a student had to learn how to play the piano had to sing had to take it conductors course had to take a step the step to the music history had to take liturgy all these things this was all for the composers. We had to be so and so often we can do opera. You know we have had our own box to music students in the opera and it was control let the master go there it was not. We didn't go for pleasure. Again require you to use both. That's enough of a on the if it was a pleasure Yes Bua you have then the opportunity to hear in Budapest a great human like all here during this period of struggle that that city is
still a place seething with anger is full of it seeing practically nowhere did I encounter so many amateurs and the good ones of course so many well-known and distinguished musicians have come from those well spirit and of course that time in the academy. This is what they're what you wanted to know about there at that time their county was full of the best teachers. It was really most extraordinary the most Hoo Hoo boy here was very old but he was still there for the Balinese they were docked Nonu for the pianists as it was the chief teacher and they're not the chief teachers we are very good too and there was bar talk and there only if we can but also as a piano teacher and it was called I for their composition class. Then there was the old whiner who decided that in school he would not teach anything else but chamber music and this man was probably the greatest influence on every practical
every performing musician who comes out from Hungary until today because although he is not alive anymore his teachings are very much alive and naturally the basis of music making is chamber music and bases of all somber bring instruments. He saw that they were his daughters how to play or piano quartet by Brahms death was a very great teaching as to how I should conduct to be the mother of six because my father's business the authority. Yes that's right yes you do. I was just going to say that it's a pity really that more is known about him here. Dr. Reiner of course that was a very good they were very good friends they were contemporaries. Yes and they were very good friends they played always for four hands are on the other yes all the beat or symphonies when they were children and being mean very great friends out of their lives. I was wondering when you when your interest in conducting came to the fore was this at
the academy. Not it wasn't around much before or in those high school days. So well-known It was you for if I my interest in it was he relieved from my infancy. It started out by when I played an instrument I always wanted to imitate other instruments. I decided that when I played a certain beat Lee is from a small little Beethoven sonata. If you're going to use it to play it for a six year old and I made a definite sound like Horace and I try to make the piano sound like once of course it didn't. But it should have and then I think a very simply it came naturally. Why not moral stand if you have something like that. So I always orchestrated everything in my mind. And very soon I had this idea that for me the piano was just one color and that involved I also was rather drawing and painting and I couldn't imagine why I should make all my painting can only read. I want red and blue and green and everything and the debt that I get with the many
instruments and this is the reader's Ledger immediately to understand this and this was a this was the U.S. and they all risks thought and I always was interested in that. What did your interest in composition begin at about the same time. Also very early and it was a very strange scene that I thought that I must compose. I thought it was forbidden. Why I don't know that it was a childish imagination so I composed in great secrecy and the behavior of years of not one is raised because of coffee. First I am composed and I learned all the rules later. Yes so I didn't even read all that you are to hear hear keys other clefs and I remember an old opera and I wrote a preface to the opera instead of this operates written all in treble and bass clef because I thought oh yes there are others too one example of your father have been an influence and this was only this one also a
strange thing and killing the really intimate stories of my life because he was one of my major decisions that I finally shole it must show him a composition of mine because I compose for five or six years like this all in secrecy. In a very extraordinary man there too because I had only one book of music paper a very large book which was sort of a hesitance from an uncle who started to learn how many but then very soon he got sick and tired of it he was a painter and he only wrote about five pages in this huge book and then I got this book and I wrote all my compositions in this book with pencil so that when I got to the last page I erased the first one to get unstuck or start to fall but I had absolutely no sense of of the ability of the set off what I just wanted to write. So my first composition was erased when I wrote the second then my second got to raise the ire of the server and I started and I
was 40 and I started to earn money of my own on my own I started to give lessons in piano lessons and then I bought music paper and then this stuff and then there but then I noticed you know that I cannot really go on like this forever right thing in not knowing elementary rules or even possibilities. And I wanted to study and my father was very strict and he wanted me to go to school like everybody else. And so I decided that now I must show him a competition. No matter what happens I missed showings and I went around for about half the year with this idea you know how I had it ready already there was I remember very well it was a piano quintet and I had it all done brought it up very nicely and I drowned. Now he's just standing at the window that's simply not the right moment so I personally
have no other time it was too cold the next morning I was too hot to get over here and finally had the choice and then he very seriously looked at it and then he gave me the permission of I should study and he took me down to find there. That's when you begin to discount me. Yes and that was before that was just private lessons for one year and then minus the ears and then Vyner said that ideally should be. Now normally tuition and that's how I got into the account wasn't there some question for a while as to whether you would go into painting and drawing instead of more yes oh yes but I didn't make the questions only the others. Only the grown ups they were going to always be beta 1 I will be but I never did you never doubted for a moment. Whatever I did I was sort of I had an easy cleverness you know what and I did many things I build houses I had our little sayings and I made many handy things. And I mean and that was successful in life I sculpted her head out of mud that looked like a head.
So they everybody decided that I'd be a sculptor and I think there are all these grown ups they're all idiots. Just because one can make a head on us and there be a sculptor either way and they always wanted to make music but I was a musician who was interested in other things and I still am I very interested in hundreds of things. I'm very intense position and I wouldn't do anything else as a main thing. But but now I am very much interested in other things. Does it does your interest in painting call using his eyes to draw still drawn I have started a collection of drawings a with a very small bit of very fine passionately. Required collection of old master their art which is very rich is very beautiful but what does this include Could you move in with all sorts of things Italian and Dutch drawings made this a distinction to make because you otherwise one loses them. And I yeah I get them from as early as I can but I may not get more than the
late 18th century. But I don't not going to the 19th century and I got beautiful things. I got my in my earliest twenties a drawing by B not sure what's really and that's that's a great. That is the same a book a speech on the law might be something like I can't have probably never and not one can hope. Yes well if I mean if I win this the doctor or you know what don't always know. There they were in there one has to guess the football game and it was all yes. How do you how do you call that here. Well I don't know how you would call it here but it's the equivalent of winning the sweepstakes they said yeah yeah yeah yeah. What if I mean that then I can write I would say something seems to be. Call having read somewhere that wasn't an unfamiliar sight during your days in our Southwest to find you out making
sculptures in the area around Dallas and I've often wondered what what you found a scratch down in that area there. Oh much really. Oh yes you know there is so called beautiful landscape. Isn't is not paintable. Do you ever cry like I have you or not did you ever think of it when he says that the Italian painters never used landscape as a medium and it is a Eye talian paintings of landscapes only as background for answers and never see and look and big guy because he saw spectacular It's all well meaning that you get that you can't you don't need a painting or that their Dutch landscape which is very flat very dull is full of tremendous detail and that's how that's where they kind of send their own brands got their inspiration from just one little drunk young tree how it bends but it doesn't in interest because there is such beauty everywhere that there is one
little detail because it's not worth loss the essence. So they concentrate on their own their own figures. That's a very interesting point of view and one which I hadn't thought about it a whole class get back to conducting a trial where you then began working professionally at the Royal Opera. That's right and this was when you were about peace when anything like this happened that way that one of the teachers in the academy was not my teacher but a teacher. He got to be their new director after opera. And he heard of me as a good if you believe in you we knew me and you were there at the exam seeing things and then he approached me that were wooden that when I come as a coach to the opera and this is what I really wanted. Probably he knew that I wanted him and it was a really good start because I knew I was probably the only coach at the opera then who had
A conversation with
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#8 (Reel 1)
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