Interview with Erich Leinsdorf
We all thank you with us during intermission in this concert by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is the conductor for this and next week's concert as well Maestro Erich Leinsdorf. Maestro I think the first question I need to ask you is Why has it taken 25 years to get you back into Cincinnati. It reminds me of a story that two men will meet in the street and the one says there was a such a nice party at Joe's last night why didn't you come. So the other one says you know there are three reasons for my not coming. The first reason was I didn't get an invitation. So the other one said Never mind the other two ways. I say oh you know. His interview article with you in Wednesday's Cincinnati Post James was because he mentioned and I learned for the first time that you're working on a
new book you had one published last year cadenza which received some interesting reviews maybe will ask you about your reaction to those. Would you tell us a bit about your your new book. It's based on the new book is entirely a technical musical tours for professional principally professional conductors I hope Of course professional performers on instruments also will find it beneficial. The idea of the book is very simply. To study not with the recordings of the works one is considering for performance but to study only with the composer himself. And I try in the book to shore how this can be done and how this is actually a much better and safer road to becoming a self-reliant master of one's
own musical interpretations rather than a month separating oneself by first imitating other models. It's a pretty simple idea but it involves a lot of time and a lot of personal judgement because I actually try to follow how to read music which which may sound very funny if it is thrown on the table like this. But the difference between reading notes into reading music that is the essential problem which I discussed and what not to believe in print. What is explicit what is implicit what is traditional and to distinguish between all those things requires. 8 A quite extraordinary
combination of knowledge and imagination. Drama without the other would do a modulation without the knowledge wouldn't get one very far and the knowledge without the magician look at them not us. We know this brings me to something that stood out in a review or something I read about you in which you talk about the feeling aspect being as important as the thinking or the cognitive aspect in approaching a piece of music. It is indeed. You think the intellect in approaching music has outlived its exclusivity. I think that depends entirely on what ever case you quote there is in all great compositions a very happy mixture of the composer's intellect and emotion and inspiration and I think that the interpreter who wishes to do
justice to great works needs a similar combination of intellect and emotion. Let me give you one small example of where intellect and emotion are payout and very you can distinguish what they are. The crucifixes of the must be night a mouse is based on. For all Steve not all of the bases now rational but have chosen the best particular for Boston to come 13. So there you have Jesus and the twelve disciples. Next that the one at the thirteenth of these four bar variations because it is a plus account is apostles support to use this to put it to better yet. And when you
look at listen that these four bars you see not only the way the body is slid down into the earth but you feel how your own heart sinks in dismay when you hear this chromatic pull it down. Now you have here a perfect combination. The debt commission to make 13 times for a boss is an intellectual one. These games these pneumatically games which so many composers play but to produce this tremendous emotion when the IT support comes that isn't is after the conspirator patient of the tedious especially if you've used it 12 times already. That's right how are you going to. I thought of some writings Bruno vaulters when he talked about he was interested in the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner and he talked about the thinking man feeling man in the willing
man and to bring these into balance seems to be the important thing. Yes I don't worry too much about this I think if you understand the composer This is my my my objective and that thing one has to realize that the composer the great composers were dealing only with great composers. They knew exactly what they were writing down and therefore we do not need anybody between the composer and us to explain. Be don't need the commentaries of the editorials I don't need the piano edition of Beethoven beat by the ever great the pianists. I think it is very interesting for amusement to read through the many patients and the comments of Hans from below when the cops shoot at the schnozz British and kept to ever has made it but I think that the pianist will be best off to
start the bit off in the Beethoven edition which is not explained. Not that I'm not tape that but it won't be enough. The pianist who wants to play Beethoven should know the whole date. We are a student of history. This is an avocation not distorted but I read your story very much. Yes you know. When I think about the vile work on this concert I was thinking of future conductors and they can't bring to the work the experience that you had in the thirties. They will never know what Europe was like then they'll never will never know the menu out of which this music grew. Yes but you see the knowledge and imagination which they should bring to reading Beppe toward bread and cooked by will and of course it gets you what I please you didn't hear the vibe out
of public and through this other the rest of the thing as I believe the body inflation in Europe developed shipments of the more than vats math a real catastrophe who value math is almost sometimes a pain of an individual who is over st that O.J. that Matz need not be something which is real it can be a psychological hypochondria out to you. But this was no Welsh man. This was a catastrophe. I mean and you remember from the from the crash in this country and the following the pressure of the number of suicides and today that the chap that existence is now out of this came the Threepenny Opera. I think it is perfectly possible for people who study their music the way I suggest because it is not only music as objects to be
studied. I for instance say in the very early chapter I think that it's essential for a conductor to know several language because many composers that they give us their indications of how they want us to perform certain things in their own language without resorting to the conventional temple terminology or to the conventional terminology for dynamics for instance the b c in the second of his three Nocturnes there is a trumpet fanfare and trumpets sounding from very far. And after the first few measures the composer writes in the score over the second period of that fanfare. I'm pro-free he doesn't sing louder he says I'm put up or shape. I remember once at the student locust intended would
a student conductor was leading the orchestra and they were doing this knocked and at the supper point he interrupted and said I was up inspecting the premises how they were doing this and they'll be who here knows what I'm up or she means and nobody knew who witness it. Why don't you ask. But of course they could have asked anybody because nobody knew it but that you see here you must never go by things without asking what it means and this is far more important for the understanding of the piece and if you did it and you fought to because and put up or say means we have something you like a parade that starts very far away we won't know you as a day of us or Vietnam it may be a something. But this was of course in France very far off but it comes close it goes by us with a tremendous din and cause we recede in the distance. Well there's one little phrase of free that's improper Austrade the composer regales us with an entire meaning of the music but this is what I
mean that he that is it's I think two of these marvelous instructions just in this piano piece writing that you conducted the first American performance of a work that is a favorite of mine has nothing to do with this week's or next week's program. But I. I wonder I have wondered for a long time why it's not heard more in that it's called climate more and I think that all has been limited in their repertory of American orchestras and opera companies to the academy not and I think what we find Gary but I call the wealth serious mentality that people who would never go to a game must be at their whims. Now you only customer of the very best known of the database. That means Paula is coming up with a laying it's there for the moment to clue. And all these things are not bad but the cabbie not said all the time.
Because that work seems to be an excellent introduction for children for that matter to opera. It's very apprehended Bill if you know no German. I would give back a question of another work which is glorious and for children to its long foreigners about how very most on here have rarely encounters which particularly now with all the things which we see the Muppets and all these years make for a wonderful staging of TV on live on that please. Well maybe a seed has been planted approach but we always try to prevent it. Sometimes they come up sometimes they don't. You were asked once about well I don't know what the situation was but the quotation is that three works that make conducting worthwhile or Wagner Siegfried the ninth and Rite of Spring. Well I find those the three have the most challenging for a conductor you see I tell you but this comes from one place often games. Who is
your favorite composers of which I have no answer for this because that's a long list and but it's your favorite work well then I have to say. There's a great difference. If you asked me today what would I take to the famous desert island if I were to tell you there's an island and only one composer to listen to. In which case I say unhesitatingly. Bah. But then on the other hand for the activity of a conductor does not have the same possibilities I adore bucket I would listen to him for the rest of my days. If I have to listen to one composer only and it did not even take me terribly long to to decide this. But then as if you had only three works to conduct which ones would you would you take. Which of course I would take the three which are in their own different ways the most challenging. You know as a broadcaster. I imagine there
might be something of a similar experience with the standard orchestral repertoire. Perhaps it's because they're on recordings but I found that increasingly I have to insulate myself against hearing some works too frequently or I can't hear them at all. I've become I think I'm so familiar with them that I hear the same the same things I'd heard before I follow the same lines I've heard before. And in order for it to be fresh I have to divorce myself from it for a while. Now you're conducting Mozart prog in this concert and the Beethoven as well. How do you keep butts fresh by leaving very long into votes between the performances. I quite agree with you and I made the point that I think also at some point said I think interviews are anything about which that there is a classical hit 30 of the
50 best known works and unless one leaves long long interest one is bound to lose the freshness now between performance to say of the Brahms symphonies. I leave then at a long intervals and then I have the satisfaction that they come back to them and then new again. But according to compositions the intervals have to be at the very long haul. That bit less but that's all it is and that was Paul's this and I see to it that I don't get to see him work on my programs but once or twice a year. That's the maximum time I see you with that. I think we'll conclude our conversation by stolen stuff it's been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you Hope I have an opportunity again that it's not another 25 years before you visit our fair city again 25 years from now it would be fairly ancient and I
- Interview with Erich Leinsdorf
- Contributing Organization
- Cincinnati Public Radio (Cincinnati, Ohio)
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- Segment Description
- This asset is an interview with Erich Leinsdorf, intended to be broadcast during the intermission of a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert that he conducted. In it, he discusses aspects of his approach to conducting.
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Interviewee: Leinsdorf, Erich, 1912-1993
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Cincinnati Public Radio (WGUC-FM, WMUB-FM, WVXU-FM)
Identifier: CPR0495 (WGUC)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Interview with Erich Leinsdorf,” 1977-12-10, Cincinnati Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 5, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-106-55m90bjp.
- MLA: “Interview with Erich Leinsdorf.” 1977-12-10. Cincinnati Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 5, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-106-55m90bjp>.
- APA: Interview with Erich Leinsdorf. Boston, MA: Cincinnati Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-106-55m90bjp