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A conversation with Rafael Kubelik This is the first 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 and chairman of the department of theory and composition of Northwestern University's School of Music and program annotator for there's a call goes into the orchestra and George Dillman program director for Zenith radio Corp. serious music station in Chicago. Mr. Parsons and Mr. Stone have as their guest on today's program the distinguished conductor and composer who recently returned to Chicago for a highly acclaimed series of concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from which he had resigned as music director in 1953. Now here is Aaron Parsons to welcome you to this program. Thank you I think you'd be here with you.
I think that it might be well to lead to some idea of your educational experience and how you became a musician. And I was born in because he did what. And as you know my father was a very famous violinist. And he's so this be my grandfather was the first musician in the family. It was a very strange how music came into our family because all the family before my grandfather whatever Miller simply just you know actions and so and my grandfather when he was about 16 or 17 he certainly lost sight of what it was five. And he's been secular No you must become a musician you know it goes back as he goes to the 19th century they didn't know what to do with the blind boy. So he started to play the cotton that's sort of the divide and then he learned about seven instruments
and sort of music came into into our family after three or four you see became his side back and so the back and said no stop using me again if you know something. He said no I will stick to the music. And he paid them in churches and in the pops and so in the source and for us and them you know. Yes yes yes he must have been your father's first teacher that exam. And he was so careful not to make out of my father as a child prodigy because my father was a child when he was six or seven he played so beautifully dividing that my grandfather could have used to make money and all that because they were very poor and very poor sight for their lives and yet my grandfather was so clever and didn't use the boy you know and for this purpose and gave him a proper education in the conservatory. And when he was 12 came to Mr. Shafiq the famous.
And so had my father finished school and after he finishes school he became famous he was nineteen eighty nine when he started to maybe. So I think this was very wise from my grandfather's side. My father of course gave me when I started making music when I was six and seven. Everything you can imagine for me he was my God and my brother and my father and we had never had differences and I must say until his last day of life. Such a wonderful money and piece and you know the 80s atmosphere. Your instrument also was the violin. Yes that's just what I want to say I started doing it six and seven I started to play the fiddle and studying with your father I mean my father and I composed you know I started out of the competition when I was seven and then then that
was a boy and then my father said no we've asked you mustn't do that now. Don't just compose out of your hat you know you are too small or you must not do to complete a proper teacher who would you like music also out of money and not just to be in August August. And I think he did very well. I came to the conservatorium and dash study to see if you could and this is the progressivity of the plaque on the composition of the contracting and dividing and I finished school when I was 19 and is playing my own fantasy for diving and and as a conductor. And there's a composer who just seem funny. So it came naturally to me that I was not under conducting that I am you know I was on the music. So just because a musician are all around for now as I understand it
you made your debut as a conductor with the Czech Philharmonic when you were 19 and a half years old. That's correct. Now was this literally your debut as a conductor or with that orchestra. No it was it was going to be as a conductor and I'm just very even if it was in 1934 in January my father played in dissent as he of mine you know he played a Beethoven concerto and then then he played my sentence which I conducted and then he played tonight by the Tchaikovsky not before. So there was a program and I did you. And always going back to get it it was funny actually because you know that I can leave eyes and enough was I played the piano and accompanied my father late on under piano but I was never my pianist was that accompanies your dad taught you a thing at all and I did also and I've gone
into states and I do they when I finished school my father came to the States here and we had to hear I was 18 months with him in America. This is something which I was unaware until I read harems excellent notes and it was a moving program booklet a couple of weeks ago that you had made a very extensive tour with your film company. Yes. Well now I'm I'm still very interested in this business of the beginning of your career as a conductor had you conducted say the student orchestra at the conservatory. Nothing much. No I played I played you know I guess not because I was divinely so I was I was you know they are just as if I used to say yes let's be honest. Students understand what sort of training in conducting Did you have then before you became conductor of the Czech harmonic about 1936 it was just I had a question and I must confess you hadn't much meaning.
You know your job as I am I had to end. And of course I asked as I taught him. I finished as a conductor. He you know I finished the normal procedure from my teacher I had a teacher of Adam conducting teacher you know. So to speak of contacting the dad because I told him so I had my diploma as a conductor but you know how much money lent sometimes and much in as good a chance to conduct a must have an instrument just as much as you honeys the making of a fine pianist has used you so much for five six hours a day you can practice but if he wants to bother going back to what can you do if you know that any August let me I'll just to start I would you know look I'm going to meet up as I said you got to love watching that and I'm a phony. That's no good. It's not enough just to good that's why I wondered about the orchestra in your conservatory days. Well apparently you were eminently successful in your initial performances as a conductor with the Churchill I'm on it because the record shows that
you frequently conducted the orchestra in the next four or five years took it on. There's an extensive tour of the US and I became out of a musical director of the burn all that house you know nine so that in the first 40 years of my I started to come back to check for that money in after I came back from the 1936 economic boom and I took a permanent job that immediately and then became in 39 became the director and the inflight Ivana chef conductor of the checks and I'm on it and they had under 40 so I was on set up the state in which I could I want to go for 12 years. Well as a young man as a budding conductor if you will was there some older more established conductor whose work you
particularly admired or yes. Not if you know last night that he was going to check on Doctor Who was the boss of the check for the money but because he just in 35 he left fun it was him that was at the check that I wanted and it's just to do good to engage a young man who conducted some punches with me but that he didn't do and it was me she said I was sure I was not a fortunate thing to come into the gap. But he of course was a living example for me. I NEVER BE game he says. Because I somehow did not want to go to be to become his people I never liked to be bossed you know at the moment. I don't see then you it went on easy on you no one is. That's not enough you have conceded it. Later Sometimes I get that because I thought that he would have probably given me much more advise you know if I would have been sued. Just did the group.
But this didn't happen and I had to be kind of a self-made man in this region when conducting I could go to houses that I don't and and bring them out of that great mass of my and my aunt and dog and and also of course as much as I could hear me and as much as I could hear for this generation of conductors of the books you know underpants and revealed my demand. They have been I think every young man who wanted to become a conductor was happed just watching them and going to do anything with us. We were able to go to their whistle as lawyers. This is sometimes not so easy to last month that they might try to be kind and especially for me to complete a list and then I want to and use his book of course. Festivals Yes. Well that would be both bravado and Toscanini guest ask one why.
How do you feel about conducting symphonic works against conducting opera was you very quickly moved from London. Yes I do I like well you know I think it must have two faces like I was the Gagliano So you know it was wrong and you must look at the good actions in others open and this isn't funny and it did manage to get together as a contaminant you know it makes it makes sense. I should have gone back to is inspired by he seemed funny to me. And again do you know if you went back to seem funny you'll be inspired by the opening to the future. Well certainly it's true that most of the very great conductors have been active in both the concert hall. Yeah see I don't you don't want to get out there and Stein has recently gone into I want to help him though he was otherwise principally symphonic.
I'm curious about your view of what is in store for music in the future. One hears predictions as long ago as or I suppose it's been 15 or maybe 20 years by the Hindemith said that it was clear to him that the music of the future was electronic Hindemith so far as I know never played a raw electronic you know at all. But as a prediction in an interview and perhaps it was one of those things he simply said you made that statement do you think this is true do you think the symphony orchestra has reached that stage now at which it is next door to becoming extinct. No no. I'm going see the music from a company that you can point of view music. Only a quarter point of your songs if you don't believe in anything else in music but sounds in them I would say of course it goes into this
direction because today if if you would ask me what I think about electronic music what about this kind of music which makes noise you know I would say ask me that question because I am a musician as do any musician and this is not music this is. Noice and it belongs to the Sound region but doesn't alter the musical vision because I what I understand of the music is not only sound but De Vere medium between what a human being feels inside and he is inside him south because also in your ear you have sounds. And the music you are thinking and thinking and these feeling these emotions you know musician in a calm was transformed in a sound and the sound you hear if you try to bring out. You must have a concept how to bring it out. And this concept is music.
This is the recipe you use if you use it on ink songs only when you on a bombs made noises which don't go to spawned reads. Then what you have built up in your mind and you hop in your ear because this is a disease that I'm going to beings so to speak. I don't have it I expect myself really I think if I recall a number of years ago I probably will be guilty of misquoting him badly. But James Taylor made a statement that paraphrased would be this. That sounds which appeal to the mind alone. Our science if they appeal to the heart to the emotions let us say they are music. I've always thought this deal because I thing may look beautiful on paper and mathematically it may be something but I think of it
doesn't communicate something to somebody and of course perhaps perhaps because I live if I want to do I don't know what disease it is I think it's if I may say even very simple if I listen for instance to an. Electronic music. After two minutes I'm bored stiff. I simply am I sit almost asleep and it makes me you know I'm an optimist kind of perfect and I'm not interested in it it is important that I'm happy it is not enough not enough impact of what we call a musical experience. It is just an experience that goes into your sound as it is and as you have noise I can you know not as noise not even sound like something was bought but you haunts. What your system wants to be interested in is your own race. Also did what I said before of this triangle which is being made inside
of the composer that he has to put together. He's in a Yes song please. If you aren't going to have that then you have to have a certain emotional experience and you have to have two brain which good stack together and it creates L.A. and it's late. You can deny this and they exist. If it's right then it can be interesting or not interesting or something I can you can add good music that we can or that you know that's that's a little different but there is music but I don't it's just like if you would like to see a very calm and just you know go home and go home once they come from outside and they think of a different type of music of the day serial composition and I think instead of electronic production of some great ordinary musical sounds of tradition that I'm going to different ways which is a very big place for the world. There they even symphony you find this triangle that you speak of of course are very much on the debt ceiling in
the munition you see here most of the symphonies is a miniature piece of art. Farm was before not in a big way in a big brawl broadened and he makes the notion of a very classical and very very already known fact in his music his music is great because he Stier iced out of people. Rodents would be the antithesis book there. Yes exactly. And he sees me every time I get you know in short short short hand things which are already in class are going to be shot Ed. It takes 20 minutes to do. He goes into it in 20 seconds sometimes but if there is there is this idiom you know the piper. Did this actually the same thing in a number of works the Dutch. Yes
yes yes. But Among the Serial composers today I suppose it's as true as it has been in any period of musical creativity that some of them have something to say and sort of call them simply do not of course. Exactly right exactly right. We should not see music out of my back saying good music bad music or better music verse moodiness or something of that sort. But not new old or modern or contemporary or Syria or a chorus I'm going to bed is not that is not the judgment of the time of Beethoven or Mozart ever so many composers nobody knows them existed at all because they hadn't even that good music somebody they might not be going out on her giving symphonies on the Monday to date somebody on an on going to music it doesn't matter I thought about many of these little he writes music with ease the inside to create these communities.
It means which is it would you be serious. Strongly what that man fears in himself because of you and he must feel certain emotions you must have them otherwise you can compose you must have the money must have undergone hocked and he must have brain to make a good combination to Greeks you know. And then that is what is good you know. Sad music. But if he has nothing to say just wants to ride with his brain as many composers did in a time a bit of it just as they do today. He roofed with a banjo that was not good news you said it died. In your own composition do you use some of these techniques such as serial composition and when you say yes and as a conductor you certainly must cope with you became known as one who would perform serial works and other contemporary music. And I still believe that a conductor is not only here to conduct ski and bombs into Iraq but he has also to bring to public things which are happening in his time
and just as much as you have going to the GoDaddy and in the gutter you see pictures from old times they are going to be covered you and I you can have your choice but if you don't like if you don't go to this big show you are mislead or you just walk around and see them for 20 seconds or something. It's going to be the craziest picture but it is hanging there. That's a song and the recount gone composers and musicians we have all composers you know draw us every Just who listens to them and they can be known. But a tragedy of course he said. Asked 25 minutes and you have to have the patience of the public has to have the patience to go to just 25 minutes or 40 minutes of a minute you last and recently and it's a bit like you know we don't like and imagine how much time losers we'd listening a piece of say 25 minutes. Then you have to have his patients income but isn't he just 25 seconds. You can look at a picture. And you can look
again and again and again and again if you want it. Well you can do it with a musical piece. You can repeat 30 minutes every second day. You would listen to lose abilities once in a lifetime you would say I don't like it why in a picture you have to believe you have to you can take the time if you want to I'm going to be back and see you again and again. How often you get there seem to affect the broker and the combination between your eye and the picture and your ear and your score. Because one of the troubles of contemporary music is that it if it's performed by major orchestras it's normally performed once and that audience doesn't have the opportunity to be saying what I do and it takes if not twice or more acid once you know I mean that's very definitely So and this is the aspect of musical art in which I think the recording has done a singular service.
Yes. Here is the opportunity to go back to work to listen again. Even if it didn't really communicate much on the first time or perhaps in the second hearing it's something more. And in the third year and something more than this. Yes but here unfortunately I mustn't make a criticism on recordings that there's not enough being done for contemplated music much because going to music again if you have an impromptu funny bone is 900 times the proportion is not enough. Think what you need to use to listen to music because usually listen really seven ten times and you can't because you don't have that similar piece while you have the better ones and then you lose not stocks again and you start to listen to me that I was getting used to mist of food of interest to me stubborn about is about into Mr Claverton was that you know it's on time and you and he seem to all these versions and you get focused into a almost a mystery culture you know what I mean it's all about eating yourself. Read some nuances be challenged not divorced and adopt abs you know shop as investing a lot of music but I'm not so important.
Much less important endorse would be if you could listen to the modern contemplated to be sure you're not saving off if many records would be needed on a market where the days these are represented our so much more widely than there than they were then you know it's a golden that's 15 years. Oh yes I think the situation is get it well as a matter of fact I think it was a matter of. Of economic necessity with his money recording companies those as there are I don't know some of them probably were guided strictly by altruistic motives but it was a desperate search for literature with the need to crank out these recordings month after month after month. Oh it's magic and the contemporaries are getting a much larger proportion than they ever have before and I think there's a greater interest although we still find that in our programming here at the station for example location only sampling will elicit a really violent outburst from somebody who just feels this kind
of music shouldn't be on the air and it's unfamiliar therefore it's on a good note and we don't look at it this way. No one should watch shouldn't I ask music to be only a joyful experience of pleasure. Music is not a pleasure only can be a pleasure of course also what pleasure. Remember music is also an experience. Reach reach should make people think more about their own lives. I mean look I always think that musicians would be but as adults. If they wouldn't have the admission what is the mission of a musician denies its mission and have begun his mission. And anybody who works in a necessity for mankind has a mission because you must know he's desisted this forum for mankind as it is with your lying musician about as you do. Make better people ears only he's dead. Is that enough. Is that is really satisfactory for the musician. No I don't think so I musician must think that he
means to his fellow man something with a yes to a king all about that he can start and stop spitting. So stop talking about his own way of life of his own vale of dealing with other people perhaps and start to think perhaps I could be a better mental model perhaps I could improve my habits. You know music should settle on some better thoughts and dismiss a musician must fulfill as much as he can and at times. You mentioned a moment ago that the music needn't necessarily make one feel happy. I'm thinking of a composition by a countryman of yours some from me by you know what I saw. Yes you see that's how this is I think a remarkable document. I don't believe I have ever heard anything which is so so completely hopeless in its outlook until the very last pages of the music.
I am happy that you mentioned his name because this name unfortunately is not so it should be used if souk was as you know of course the son of God was X and he believed in it time impetus uni's and just faded away. Romantic impression on him because of disturbance confronts the end of the game and that you know these changes in the whole structure of music also making end of composition and everything was so evident that this kind of music but we could call or post Romantic impression on him was completely drowned reduced or members of the new so-called new members you know and them. Now a crisis is imminent what can they do as you so this man was completely forgotten. Exactly you know they also got one of these kind of dives. But you have to do quality off structure
and all the hot metal it's combined and he's music is really beautiful and not only beautiful it is strong and what you said about it it's a composition which he wrote after the death of his life was you know I was very young and it was just eventually died and then of course what I died was our next next year. So Sam to say I'm sorry to say I'm before so that he does indeed despair and that really the music is so all unified in south not only from the going to he'll for that matter come at the air or fundamental reform but also from that and from day in Washington and as you say the last pages and it's almost this kind of an apple tale as he's as s and so by the reaffirmation of the stans I guess you know better he lives and if you have a going forward too much suddenly discovers you could create in you decide on that as I said before
these thoughts which we are speaking before. You're listening to a conversation with rock and with Aaron Parsons and George Strong. We paused ten seconds for thinking on the question. Of the many types of melodic instruments in the world. The flute in its various forms seems to be the most universal in both distribution and appeal. I am a bit yet you see it in a variety of ways and for many different reasons all the peoples of the world have been in a. Michigan State University Radio invites you now to a program of it.
A conversation with...
Rafael Kubelik, part one
Producing Organization
WEFM (Radio station : Chicago, Ill.)
Zenith Radio Corporation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, features Rafael Kubelik, Czech conductor and composer.
Series Description
Eminent musicians discuss their careers and the art of music. The series is co-hosted by Arrand Parsons of Northwestern University School of Music and George Stone, WEFM program director.
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Host: Parsons, Arrand
Host: Stone, George Steingoetter, 1920-
Interviewee: Kubeli_k, Rafael, 1914-1996
Producing Organization: WEFM (Radio station : Chicago, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Zenith Radio Corporation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-49-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:15
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Chicago: “A conversation with...; Rafael Kubelik, part one,” 1967-11-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “A conversation with...; Rafael Kubelik, part one.” 1967-11-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: A conversation with...; Rafael Kubelik, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from