A conversation with; #2 (Reel 2)
What have you done any conduct recently of the more than good composers. Not this much of course I used to since we started the Meadow-Brook at the festival of hours in Detroit outside of Detroit. I am trying to include as much as possible. Of the music of our time specifically of course now American composers not just because I feel it's my duty but because I'm interested. This was a field of music which I knew very little about Europe and of course still is very little known about of this. First of all we commissioned works like the one we did here crest now and we do commissions every year. Like I guess most major orchestras to have and then of course in Detroit where I'm now working I find a lot of holes in the repertoire which I'm trying to fill.
Every year we have 28 first performace which doesn't necessarily mean that this works are brand new but works which haven't been played music first performances for Detroit Detroit right now. This means that I keep in touch with years ago time as much as I possibly can. But you know that here it's not quite the same as in Europe. You have to be sure that you give the audience what they want and not everybody wants the same. Give them only modern music though some people will scream and never come back. Give them only the classics matics and other people will be complaining and therefore this is a problem of programming but I do try to to give them as much as I possibly can. The musical at times I was interested in your two programs here in Chicago.
Mr earlier the Chicago Symphony Orchestra your first program was essentially a 20th century programme with Stravinsky Carl Nielsen and album derrieres Island concerto your second program had the the question over here you spoke of and the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony and it was something else from the second problem we asked what if the block the block the block all the blocks in the first cello with it then it rose Yes I was interested that you separated in your programming in these two instances the 20th century emphasis from the committee the more conservative type programming. How did you arrive at this kind of a conclusion. Well that's quite a procedure. I don't know if you're familiar with the way this works when guest conduct is invited in
99 percent of all cases. He is asked to suggest programs. I cannot speak for other conductors but for myself I always give them at least three or four complete programs. And because I cannot possibly know what has been presented in this in this particular area there is a less serious Forest Program for that particular season. Exactly or even the president. So what happens is that I send them programmes timings and everything and I leave it to the music director of the orchestra in this case Mr. Martino to let me know what he thinks would be the best. It doesn't have to be one out of four complete programs he can easily mix works from different programs and make new programs for them and that is what happens. So in this case I suggest I don't even remember if I suggested these programs as such. I might easily have had circus
kit with some other work. But then they ask for a set combination and in as much as he is mis corrected supposed to know so much more but was cause goes on here. I mean what's acceptable by his audience and then I saw Alright fine then I will do that. I'm not kind of trying to avoid the responsibility of the program is mine of course as long as I have accepted it. But I feel that the music directors should or should know what's best for the audience and that's how I know how this happens how do you work out programmes in Detroit where you conduct week after week and who you know your audience know that you've been there since about 1963 I believe. Yes. Same procedure of course I have no program committee of any kind. Like they do it in the European orchestras. I'm a one man committee. I make the
programmes myself completely alone and. When I do that of course I always start from from beginning to year three years back. It's easier now since I've been there already. But when I first began I had to study carefully what's been going on the years before I came to try to avoid as much as possible over what had just been played and mix the old with the new. Try to make them attractive to give everybody in the audience at least something in the program. And that's why for instance a program like this Kristen Bell which I cussed I was hoping that some people may like the Christian piece and he may not like the shake off good and vice versa. When I am I mean to try to lead. Now getting mortared because conductors works the same way. I get the programs from these conductors and I give my
my advice or suggestions to them. I think perhaps. Professor Parsons was wondering about the structuring of programs as much as anything else because we have heard suggestions on this program that certain conductors have certain tricks they use. For example if if one is going to do really have an exact thing where it's going to be put in the program where it will be there for those who like it and still is not going to do too much harm to those who don't can. That that is that this is something which has been commented on in Detroit papers. This aspect of programming I am I'm trying to prove to be. You want to call this rote when I have a very very same soloist. We recently had her tribe and her son is a big name. He places like mine a second that is a marvelous place to put all the difficult things
and put it put them in a in a place where the audience cannot escape. Not at the beginning or at the end. The fight in the center and this is a dirty trick perhaps to some people but this is the best way I find anger for Detroit I have to say that a lot of things has happened in the last few years with regard to the the Odyssey. They can take things now which would have been part impossible five years ago. And it is encouraging of course I'm not saying that I necessarily like all of the music we do. But I make it a point to draw draw for people to not watch and if they dislike it I simply hope that they would dislike it violently. Not just sit there and no comment I want I want to the reaction of some kind and I feel that we are getting there now. And this is something I was
likely much and I think it was the American scholar John Tasker Howard said. The new music has to be played because if there is today another Mozart or Beethoven would never know unless we had the opportunity to hear music is nothing but something on paper until it has the opportunity to reach a very you say me say something very interesting thing happened to me you know here the fact that the audience seem to take to this coming it's a symphony it so much. I had this feeling of greater This past that simpler than anything that has been created by myself this time. And I am very happy about that and it was a tremendous success no question of that. Are you performing Neilson in Detroit. If you're Yes yes I make it a point at the present time to introduce at least one symphony here. We've gone through five of the six now in the last three years
because I have in addition to to be able to program completely independently for Meadowbrook which is a serious music festival I mean it's not a part of think it's anything more advanced than when we've gone through this systematically. Like I'm also giving a beer lesson on Sibylla's symphony during the 6:00 a.m. which is of course not not the popular piece but it should be played to give you a complete picture Sabinus. I would be interested in if you would take some time to speak of middle brother. We've heard a great deal about it and we know of your affiliation with it. Were you responsible for the starting of the summer program. What happens was that I was engaged as conductor as 63 could not accept the decision until December that year because of previous commitments. I came to Detroit to 63 and only weeks after that some some of our really wealthy people came up with the idea Why don't we have a
summer place. This is good for many reasons one is that it gives the Orks time longer season and they don't have to play a lot of bad music and pops. And with this fantastic speed these people work. The idea came up in January 6 64 and we open in July same year. It is quite extraordinary. SCOTT Yes you know this really I mean they're right out in the forest they they they built this whole thing in and for five months this was in front of an open air and theater it is yes and this was at that time it was only a series of concerts this year. Yes we started with four weeks of concerts three concerts a week and then it was such a success that we went six weeks next summer and same time opening this metal book store. Yes and we had hundreds of students right away and a hundred piece don't oxygen and I had myself a conductor's workshop that's what it took to talk to someone in the country
and then in 1966 we went to eight weeks and in this it weeks we played 32 kinds which is quite big again I think. Would you say something of about the way you can you conduct the conductors workshop. Yes. This was a great experience and as you know there's no better way to learn things and to be a teacher. It's just by having all these conductors surrounding me asking me questions all the time. It was quite an ordeal. But I think I learned more from that than I have done many years because they have so many interesting point they so not just begin as people who are having their community jokes just I had people from California I think even a couple overseas. How many students do you have a 20 to 22 that summer. Unfortunately last summer the concert schedule got so big that I had to give it up for that summer I just couldn't do it myself.
Is there an orchestra at Meadowbrook where these student conductors may have a chance to demonstrate their. Yes there's a student box that was completely independent from the symphony orchestra of course. And amazingly good. The problem of course is that this is a pick up box made made up for the students at the school. We are very fortunate to have a university on the ground since the university. And I think in that respect we are unique in the country. I don't know of any other summer place which has a university or on the campus on the ground where you play and you're very fortunate to have a president of the university who is such a strong supporter of the whole idea of Middleboro. Well I mean here is the man you can expect anything from there's nothing to stop him when he wants to you know I personally know i dunno i just know what he has he else is there and that he's the one that's absolutely fantastic. And I look forward to every summer now the great inspiration we had a
matter of fact in 1966 we had a complete week of only contemporary music. Nothing composed with the exception of Rite of Spring which was some sort of an old fashioned thing I do that all the music was composed in the 1960s which is pretty close three complete programs. And this was quite a quite interesting and especially the response we did three concerts in within one week. First night only 800 people the second night 2000 people and good night 3000 people in the open air reigning in everything zero remarkable. And it has continued to attract large audiences. Yes well the capital city is limited. I would say that there's nine maybe ten thousand people as much as we can take. But this place has no amplification. And and therefore you couldn't really have any any any bigger and we don't want this
sassy thing with us because all over the place where you get the sound for five times as a matter of fact we're still it the sound we get there is better than our indoor sun in the winter. That's very interesting which is in a way it's unfortunate but it's good for Meadow Brook. You have a show. Yes or yes. The man who did this. Now the same as Christopher Jaffe. Who says he's been in demand he's he's building all these centers now in this country. He's posted on the Beautiful Music Center in Washington D.C. After eight hours. He is in demand. All of the place he is now trying to improve our indoor place in Detroit. I'm sure if you can solve some acoustical problems he will be in demand because there's there are few places that do not have the acoustic album. I'm sure that there's a problem which you have been aware of with you were
touring with your orchestra. Yes hi So should I you can say that again that is really the problem when we go on tour. We never know in advance what it's going to sound like. We begin to get a taste myself. I begin to get some sort of a picture when I see the place anything like drapery and velvet and things scares me because then I know it's going to be dead. It can also be over brilliant. If it's the background story it's just too hard and but the problem when you tour with an orchestra is to adapt quickly because we never have a chance to rehearse anywhere so it every night it's a surprise of one kind or the other and that is one of the big problems of touring. I tell you that I was sure there would be a uniform caustic in all places that we would know or wouldn't have been. Yes we did go to I did go with the Sox to two to the Milwaukee theater
last week and that was an obvious place for me and I had a great impression of music making you know the Pabst theater and yes looking right at our hall in Detroit is not this the worst of all and it's not the best of all is here is quite a large auditorium. Yes it's larger than this. It's about 3000 people. And and their platform we have is immense. This is least twice as big as this one which is not too good. It's a disadvantage because the players kind of get lost play once to have it back on the shelves around him. We do not have that was our proscenium. Yes but it's not that well fitted. A very important point is that the level of the of the ceiling of course is way up which doesn't support the sound at all and looks to should be a really built into this should be custom made. How long is your season in Detroit.
At the present time it's four to seven weeks it will be forty eight. The coming season this includes middle Brooklyn a ticket. Yes this are the amount of weeks when the architects employed what together and then we have a negotiation coming up. That's probably going to be difficult like it is for the oxygen. Do you enjoy guest conducting. Very much yes. I feel that it refreshes you or your outlook when you return to your own orchestra. Yes it makes me. Yes that's true I feel like like you like to meet new people I like to meet meet new people even if they are not completely unknown even if I have connected the places Chicago's is needed for. Several times that I've been your partner is. It still enjoyable and fresh an experience at the same time. I enjoy knowing that my folks have another face in front of them for a change because I don't believe that
guest a principal conductor should conduct. Too much with his own people because they get to know each other too well. And it's very hard to keep up the excitement and the tension when you work with the same people all the time. That works both ways of course. If a conductor is in front of the same ox all the time they get to know him so well that there's nothing you can he can offer them that's new. The conducting field has a great problem today with. The increased length of season. The greater number of programs the complications of learning new scores so that we have before us the three major orchestras who are in search of new music directors in New York and Boston and Chicago. How do you feel. What is your solution to this growing demand that a season of this sort makes one a conductor.
I don't know I don't know if there isn't a solution except that if a permanent conductor wherever he is would conduct a lesser amount of their repertory. And there would be more guest conductors. It would be easier. To defend a repeating of the same music phrases I cannot possibly play Tchaikovsky's number 5 into 1 here and do it again next year. That's impossible. But if there's another conductor going to doing that he can do the same work because that is something different. And so the only solution I could find to doing this is to have. The permanent conductor state less and have more of rotation. Between conductors and this would help also the conductor. Then he doesn't have to know quite as many words. You don't think that this ethics or our alters the
individuality of the orchestra the orchestral song for example that you've tried to develop with Detroit when guest conductors come in they mate in to change this but well it's a good conductor can change the sound of an orchestra in no time at all you know. I feel stronger if your guest conductor is a strong personality and knows exactly what sound he wants. It can be it can be done with it. If a strange orchestra in a very brief time it's not a fact in it for herself you can easily change the color of things if you want to. So that actually this will not I think the orchestra itself since it is able to change quickly from one personality to an I. I'm of course speaking of the other first rate orchestras now if you go to a lesser good orchestras that's the difference and they are happy if they get some sort of sound at all.
What do you think it might be a solution to have the responsibility shared by two men. What do you think this would lead to complications. Yes definitely I would and I would absolutely NOT have to conduct on the same level. One man must be the director deciding personality. Then he can have associate conductor and he can have assistant conductors of course and guests but there must be a one man at the head of it in my opinion. Well do you think it would be effective to have a lot of say a music director and another conductor of equal stature. But one man who will make the artistic decisions. I don't believe that you don't think you know or know there would be sooner or later there would be a lot of jealousy going on I have seen a case like this in Europe in a place and it did not work out at all. There were personal
animus in no time at all and there were discussions and arguing and that is not good. Not in a major scale. What about the problem of having the associate conductor of the system. Actually it was what you were saying. You would be for having what if he isn't as acceptable to your audience. In other words they want to hear airily. They don't care to hear Mr. X.. Really I don't think I'm not going to lighten your burden appreciably you know the years I'm carrying has your of this of you no no no but I wouldn't I have any any other conductor than the music director conductor extensively I would have well known guest conductors not well-known because there were not that good. Yes great personalities guest conduct the associate conductor would do would do limited very limited
part of the of this season. I wasn't thinking of their associate conductor doing 50 percent of the repertory. Of course not. I'd like to change the subject for a moment if I may and get back to the talk about civilians. It seems to me that there has been a kind of cyclical pattern in the popularity of the music of Sibelius in this country. It flows from that. And at the moment we seem to be in one of the ebb periods. Is this also the case in Europe. Yes yes definitely. It is that's exactly what it is now. There was a peak in the playing of Sibelius a couple years ago simply because of the 100th anniversary of his birth. But I think at the present time Sibylla's is being played less as you yourself said. Whether he will come back again I couldn't tell you. I have
myself devoted a lot of time and interest to perform his music in Germany for as he was cracked the unknown when I first did his music they're like needles and also if you if you ask me who which one of the two is going to to stay longest I would be hard put to answer that. But if I had to. My guess would be Nielsen because I feel the need of some deals more with the human. Emotions and problems. With. To me it suggests it's more a man of nature and it's with super human elements and I think that in the long run maybe yours will be more attractive to more people. But I may be completely wrong. It doesn't mean that I don't think this is a great composer of course it's just the kind of appeal. I like to ask you a question of along a slightly different line you have in the last 25 years than developing this very wide
repertory and all fields because you are your early emphasis was operatic. This means that you devoted. An uncountable number of hours in the perusal of scores and you conduct from memory. How do how do you go about tackling a new score when the when you are planning to add this to your to your repertory that lead to that question I would say I would like to quote metropolis who said this I think is a simple way of expressing it is like a watchmaker gets a watch to repair First of all he takes the part into the smallest details and then he put his bag and shape again. Analysis The only way to do it and first try to get the picture of the whole picture if you can and then work into details and when you get the details. For me it's like how do you say when you when you when you try to
make things more or compress decompress the whole thing in your mind. This is it. Every time I memorize a score I find myself trying to compete. Can compress this thing to grasp it. First you look at the square it looks immense. There's no end to it. You don't know where to begin. And little by little when it falls into place you get a feeling that it gets smaller. The quantity for them until you can grasp the whole thing and that is the procedure as far as I'm concerned. You use the piano at all since you are a pianist you use the piano at all in helping you to grasp the score. No the last time I did that was when I memorized the Stravinsky symphonies for wind instruments if you know you know it was a bit of a piece. It's it's not it's not easy work to memorize because most most of this music is difficult because there is no line it's a rhythmic a pattern perhaps.
But there is NO NO thread that you can follow if there's no melody line yet it's a classic Symphony which is of course easier. Obviously I have no photographic visual memory at all. Some conductors do they turn the page they say it's going from them even if it isn't there. Don't do that. Is yours an oral. Yes memory then yes it is. It works one bar gets the next automatically provided everyone know it of course. But the interesting point for me is that every time I get halfway through memorizing a score I find myself trying to compress it so I can grasp the whole thing in one piece like it which make it puts back so that actually in in one flash you see the whole thing. Yes Mr. Ehrlich there are so many other things I wish we could talk about but you have a performance and we made you a promise. I simply want to say it's been a great
- A conversation with
- Episode Number
- #2 (Reel 2)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
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- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-12-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “A conversation with; #2 (Reel 2),” 1968-12-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 7, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-np1wjm3x.
- MLA: “A conversation with; #2 (Reel 2).” 1968-12-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 7, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-np1wjm3x>.
- APA: A conversation with; #2 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-np1wjm3x