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It was a first yes the first one of the same year I got it on O R and also and B she and one other program got all three but they're all in one. And then the Women's Press in New York and I don't know I've forgotten all of these things and then subsequent to that you then go back to the west coast together then well yes on the last signs off for the last month as the position opened up and it was time than I felt to go back to all the music I've played all my life and to go back to it you sing with something the orchestra. I've had one for about 13 years and the last year when I resigned then 56 just before just after the season for. The thing was we we went to the Orient for 12 weeks I was a pronominal experience I mean as anyone who's been in the Orient knows of the audiences that. I think I think we overlook have tenses of terms as Westerners to overlook some of the. Asian audiences especially the
Japanese where they will sit and listen to a no play for hours on end to us at seemingly hours or their own music with a nose flute down which is very beautiful but after 10 or 15 minutes you bore less had it but the Japanese haven't and they will listen to our music with the same avid attention the listener on something that we wouldn't do as as a Western audience. You wouldn't have the patience to be told the Japanese audience isn't very responsive. Remember that is what it is very all tremendously self-aware very quiet throughout everything and the other audience that is that way is the Israeli audience which is absolutely fabulous audience just because they aren't as different because in Japan I don't presume to know the complete musical history of Japan but I was told many many years ago by Athens embassy when I was still a teenager he said Wait until you get the right way to play in Japan you never know an audience like this now what do they get there secondly they didn't get it from performance because there weren't that many was the
water that came through and so it was record rather. There is a variance and a little of the stocking on this thing subject a little different with Chinese composer. For their children through got to one child and his wife were over there a couple weeks ago in New York and he was telling me I was being brought up from one place to the other and he moved from Peking to its own kingdom and it was in Chungking that as a very young boy he had listened to our radio or their Armed Forces Radio and he got to know this. He knew sessions. He knew rather Val I mean music and he didn't he wasn't able to buy the music but he got to know these pieces and when he finally went over to came back to the States to study him went to Boston he found himself being the majority of one that knew all about these proposals and I can know I think about its complicity
which is very sad. So it shows the influence that radio has to say on certain audiences and that's what normally happens in Japan when I was going to remark it was very interesting because I think many of us have had the impression that this interest in Western music in Japan came about largely after the Second World War and I think you're pointing out that Zimbalist had told you this at the time he did. I thought it would indicate that there was an I. Active interest in even before the Westernization which took place as a result of the mustache and one thing one thing I was in a stream in the Orient I remember once having spoken to it was in Singapore and. They asked me to speak to the music teachers and at the university. And after I had finished speaking I was interested and certainly was going to send so many string players in the Orient. Very few women players and to me this didn't make sense because we have this tremendous dearth of string players. We have other. So after I finished I was there all of the teachers those who and most of them spoke English.
Are there any of your students. Please just raise your hands are any of your students. Are there any who play brass know him as wind up percussion and quite a number of hands. Many piano also quite a number of hand wind instruments. No hands strings part the every hand went up while I. This to me was really a mystery I didn't understand it and this fellow said to me that as a teacher he said you know in the in the in the east. It's it's wrong but the many of the parents have always believed that if a child plays a wind instrument or a brass instrument he will get tuberculosis which is the number one killer over there and not so if you place a strain of course the opposite could be true because it was very brains as I'm from them. But right or wrong they have a wonderful group of things but is it really. You're listening to a conversation with Alfred Wallenstein with there and
parsons and George Stone. We pause 10 seconds for a station identification. A. Now resuming the conversation with Alfred Wallenstein here is George Stone. Let's go back for a couple of seconds here to the New York period in your career. I'm just wondering how in the world with the commitment you had to the Philharmonic which obviously involved some study and a great deal of practice. How you ever managed to master all the scores you must have had to read in order to carry out this tremendous program on the radio. There was an easy I'll put it that way because it wasn't on the map and also the administrative part of this was very heavy because I had forgotten how much how many people were involved with singers beside musicians and
publishers and copyrights over things that go with would usually have about 10 assistants to do what you do in those days the assistants were mirrors. Well then in Los Angeles you you took over a relatively young orchestra at that time. The history of the orchestra as a matter of fact I guess is just about coincides with your own. The orchestra at that time as you Klemperer I think was our last permanent conductor and Yorkshire to be sure and he had left and on that show a clip of one of the two. And they weren't giving many concerts they had a season that was something like 23 weeks but they played a pair every other week and one concert in the opening week which of course didn't make sense because you had a man and they were being used and there were
concerts and this was in 1000 when they go out there nineteen forty three yes forty three. And that was you know during the war. And it was doubly hard because the younger men were drafted. It was very difficult to play out of town and get going because there was no gasoline available for busses. And there are many camps in California at that particular time. So I remember having spoken to the army in the Navy and the Air Force and they would give us rations for gasoline we would play a concert for them and do a concert in town that night to see him. So this developed that we played 21 tile and 21 regular series of concerts and plus regular pairs up to 28 weeks of see a season and it made it and then by bringing when this when we hear many players that want to come to California because of the movie got
into radio for the least it was I think I was playing sorry there was so not sure they'd all come to New York because the union also had a regulation there they could only have to be there a year before they could play in the studio with us. So each year I would have a whole flock until they settled down on them and and now it's a very potent and as my type but I think it's great art for her period of time we were also conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Yes I did I was also musical. The Hollywood Bowl looked at the Hollywood Bowl. They had some kind of agreement between the association and the Hollywood board members that it was new 20 board but that. The conductor of that would receive and should not have anything to do with the summer season. For what reason I don't know but in any case so I have to I respected as one told Lee will one day just toss that shirt and folded when I was called that same night by
a person and if I would take over this Hollywood Bowl thing I said like you know by the terms of my contract we'll forget that you have got that all. Ironed out so I I stayed on the phone for three days I got every artist throughout the world to come out just for expenses and when we came out in the black $47000 that season than that. So that really brought about something other that was rather important and most of the time the financing of the orchestra because the it's very rare that cities have money but companies usually have money and so the the Board of Supervisors last night was cutting. Gave and it's in the charter they give it. I've forgotten how many. Hundreds of thousands to leave Los Angeles for Mike and a hundred and twenty eight I think to the Hollywood Bowl each year plus the beach community of the twenty one that
continues the giving to the community. Nothing about the the the budget of the Oscars it's over. But now they saw it has gone very high so they're there like all watched as now they have to go out and raise a great deal of money. The money which was given to the orchestra by the county was there some requirement in return for. Yes only three concerts or something and that's all I want. I know that they the county were counting money for the doctor I got on the basis of 13 children's concerts which were broadcast. I see and the value to the county was that the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors the county board of supervisors name was spread all over the country and they were how they were satisfied with that. It was only for the 13 children because of a substantial contribution over the overall we have the organist and the children's concerts of course were very important.
I imagine we weep the children through the use concerts here in Chicago and they were in what I know when they were here in a different way and out of time I'd be most happy to hear all the time of the war. Before going out there I knew the supervisor of music was very personal friend of mine and a very fine musician and I had spoken to him many times about what I would like to see happen with children's concert not just not just to give a children's concert indiscriminately to make a program and give kids take it or leave it. This is to me not the way because I remember and no offense meant that the kind of concert would not in Chicago buy stock and he's talking to the audience and I remember many of these same people where they would remember as he would if you remember you're too young to remember that but where for example we do the Beatles I think you know their first let's say the first of this little homework go homework all of my homework if only the teacher would know what I find here are they remembering this but they don't know something like that and the
same of the Beethoven they sing something. This I didn't want to do out there so through. His name is William Hart's on going through with the hearthstone. We arranged to get all the music teachers in the city school system together and find out what they were studying and see if we couldn't get a course that would correspond throughout the whole school system. For second grade we and them made just the same the same should teach viruses and if it's anything else why just anybody you might have one teacher that likes and the new world and somebody else like the Beethoven they said something or other just didn't make any sense because the kids got together and they couldn't communicate with each other. See in this way we file and leave the had little trouble with the board the beginning because I didn't think it was right that the children should have to pay these two and a half dollar prices for children because I want them 10 20 and 30 cents. And the school system cooperated so I
think he's done that a long way. They did this they took the seats but they also took all the children out on buses from their respective schools on a Saturday morning. Mind you which is not a school day. And they were prepared in a very wonderful way where there's not I think there are more than a hundred of these young people who are them. Attendance at the Children's gods were an awesome full time subscriber. Well Mr. Wallenstein it seems to me that you've had a keen interest in music education from several different aspects. What have you not also something to do with the Ford project which I was of that was a project I've forgotten the year I think it was and I know it was three years gone forgotten the years of the 60s I believe. Which took place in Baltimore with the Bowmore members of the Baltimore xtra in which we the judges was on. RUDOLPH. Right it was supposed to be one of my really was ill and we couldn't make it. The winds
are forgotten most of it all from the Microsoft got Never five years at least and we it was I was in charge of the project and that we had to first of all before this even started there were seven hundred fifty up at us from all of the states they had to be American citizens. These very conductors are all conductors who had. Not just going to the people who would have their own doctors and things like you and so when they came they had they were 16 that were chosen to audition. And of the 16 we had only room for four because it meant the reason I say fourth because they. Had a two and a half hour rehearsal and each day one of these men had the conductor look into 33 some odd minutes that he would have a chance to work in the afternoon session which would not with the octave of the bull session upstairs and we know almost everything they did was taped and also. With the video and
video so they saw how they looked. So they couldn't say oh I didn't do that I didn't do that or see him here it was all black and white. You go to school with him and not telling him but just asking them what or what was wrong with us. Why why didn't the gel and why did this come from getting wrong notes because there was a lot of that which we didn't have time for. But it also meant that each one of these boys had to go through four different symphonies every week. Now that means between the four you had an awful lot of symphony that the boys had to go through in the 12 weeks time you can imagine. Oh this was this worked out very very well it will be resumed shortly. And of is one of the indications of where education is terribly important for. Those in the audience is you know there were concerts we gave concerts they gave concerts. Three or four times a year just so they could be in front of an audience invited audience to be sure and it was a very very very successful operation.
One of the boys and I would go to the Birmingham up to one of them in all of Iraq to want to listen. He's going to Winnipeg now he was assistant to sell one of them was the conductor of the met Bobby Clarke you know reconnect to the Met national called national company. One of the now of the head of the main the water they form the state of Maine and form. They didn't just call them out I don't remember where they all are but they're they're all out of the 12 I think a lot of them know that jobs and the duration of this period of intensive study was 12 weeks or probably for each boy and then they actually we had four different boys did their work on the same repertory. No no. Each to his own each his own. At 16 symphonies times 12 weeks that there's an awful lot of sort of Israel through and through. It was very it was very wonderful of the see the reaction of these fellows because it was a
wonderful spirit. There was no jealousy no this backbiting that you sometimes think could happen none of this they were real comrades and each one tried to profit by the other's mistakes and so forth. Well you can't ask for more than that and you could see you could see them developing each day by day and their intention was to music and. Lots of times for example one of the boys had a great flair for conducting. He wanted less memory which as a whole was of me and they would let you write it out so he kept doing this and the other boys were a little annoyed at this so they can piece of score paper as in the US to you that the symbol is theft I said not here just write up the first four bars from memory which he wasn't able to do something that's understandable but you say there's a question of making sure that. And so this
guy was one of the projects then at the same time I was also doing the symphony or the air in New York conductor musical director of that. But that was doing very well until the newspaper strike the big newspaper story in New York and that there was no chance of any kind of publicity you couldn't even advertise that thing and they couldn't get on the air you couldn't get on television itself. Nobody knew when the concerts were ever that was bad for everybody but I thought that more or less killed that particular thing. Did you tour with the symphony of their. No no I didn't I was here at least you are your audience I mean you know this. Makes me wonder if ever you have any desire to return to broadcasting. No I don't think so because I don't think that I don't think that will ever come to that point again. I'm not interested in commercial broadcasting. All I am doing is what team me as soon as I
get back next week after the creation and I'm going to pay them when I get back after the way they are and I want to have broadcast with Rubenstein and with the strike which will be on CBS I believe. As it was last year. But I have no I have no desire to go back to the US and leave the commercial broadcasting never appealed to me because then you you have no choice of music you have you always have to cater to somebody in the choice of works. Yes and I don't believe the Bears will ever come back with the because I strongly the radio executives of that time that we were talking about were really the ESTA houses of yesteryear. And then more. Well this is very true of course. I wonder however if in our own medium FM there might be some future which at the moment hasn't
fully revealed itself. Oh I believe that I think FM is absolutely fabulous It really is my only wish that sometime if the tax law could be changed around a little bit too. And it may come to that. Let's hope it does I for one would hope so that. That large corporations can have a decent write off if they are so inclined to put on an orchestra with the proper rehearsal time and broadcast for it that doesn't have to be a regular thing daily. I mean as it used to be but if if there were a series of these things it would be tremendous I was a guy I mean a live broadcast to give or take or your concerts in Los Angeles broadcast they were broadcast on Sunday. Sunday nights not every Sunday but they were broadcast for one hour which was broadcast for Standard Oil but there is no change in program. Just not enough time in the program but one hour because for them the rest was carried on and they but this was never in the city's last week but something was going on so that these 10 broadcasts they had
twenty all told and we did 10 they did 10 and and outside the children no none of the other just the opening concert world was broadcast as an old hand at broadcasting. How do you feel about television's potential for the presentation of music. Do you recall for example the Toscanini telecasts. Oh did you feel that this was a proper use of the medium. Well let's let's say it was it was a start in the right direction the one the one thing I disagree completely with is that. The average television set has let's say a couple of six in speakers and let's say some tweeters and I have had many arguments with engineers on this particular thing why if FM what's the obvious little FM set is also sometimes even a foreign speaker and it sounds marvelously
well. You're using more or less the same meter same band Why can't you get the same kind of sound out of them. This doesn't seem to work I mean I don't know why so I'm not satisfied with the quality of sound the whims of television as against FM sound which is the same I think the same then and there's no reason for this must be improved. If we're going to have music meaningful in any sense good music. I think we we all would agree with that of course there but there is a problem in television which is somewhat different in that you have a great deal of movement. There. Are big heavy pieces of equipment being moved around so there is a certain amount of inherent law is even beyond the fact that that's like the sound reproduction is which doesn't really have to be I mean that they were talking about talking in the engineering in the Orient is modified in Japan and then one in Germany to have flying cameras sounds a little grotesque. Because even at that
time I remember having done a broadcast in Japan Tokyo our last day there and I was so surprised the camera's noise was the all the all the men around the stage were wearing sell shoes so you couldn't hear a thing. And it was just like being in a dead stew you didn't hear a thing. Now we're getting to that. Fortunately we're not getting the flying cameras and I'll still work. Performance styles have changed considerably during your professional career. It will be interesting to know how in your judgment today's Chicago Symphony let us say compares with that of the time when you played with the orchestra here it would be equally applicable to the New York Philharmonic or any of the other orchestras would have with what you have had an association sometime in the past and today do you think that. The essential character of performance has changed.
Yes I do. I think so very much with the extension of seasons and having 52 week contracts where there should not have to play such a tremendous amount of music and go together in such a short period of time I find I'm not alone in Chicago after that. Certainly one of the best. Not long in America but in the world. The difference between the film onyx for example New York what it was and whether it is today I think a great part has to do not along with the conductor but but with the time element that is involved there. We are playing so much music that mediocrity is becoming the standard. And this didn't used to exist. There was refinement the phrase there was plenty of time for all these things and you can't expect an artist or two to assimilate lots of new music this quickly because that they've had it. I mean they're playing so much so if you take five six seven eight new pieces continuously and then they have to come down and play something very simple. Which they can do of course
and it's very difficult when you're a guest conductor especially it's very difficult because one is used to playing one way with one conductor and another way with another conductor and so. Orchestras become mind readers in many cases I don't believe this is good for music for music itself. Who do you think it's equally true in Europe. They don't change that much you know. Maybe we don't change that much because first of all it depends what country you're talking about. I think you'll have to leave friends of theirs because the most central Europe the science and they have some three of them of a performance and thoughts are for most part quite atrocious musically and then there are some wonderful performances and some wonderful players. I think rationally the LSA which is really a superb orchestra. It's strange but each whatever type of music you play with them they are so careful of trying to play in phrases. So there's that. Another was as they say as they say and in the
parlance of the DKIM that. I saw what I thought was dim. But all falling within the pattern without distorting it just I mean all of these little all these things that go into fine orchestral playing. I think the other all here there's no question about it. There isn't enough time for this to you because it's a matter of the vastly expanded schedules and so I think making the best of what has to be done. That's right. Comes not easy but from a player's point of view it's not easy at all because when unless you play loud one last night and don't come with his ideas of what a piano is and what somebody else's idea of the piano is or a pianissimo are quite different from when they remember my own kids many piano many conductor play with a penis in what way they lead a penis but you would just barely hear it without any real SOB if this is a penis about his music anymore is it I mean I must sings in this and you have to sing
through it sounds like a familiar expression Gandi enough I guess with. Your plans for the future I take it. Are all musical all musical Yes this has been your whole life is IMO invented. You know in times like Angie had I been offered many orchid from the 8th to be exact and I don't want that. I'm happy in what I'm doing I'm cutting down more and more but I mean I find now that our periods are far greater and coverage for example England New Zealand Australia and this kind of thing it takes. It's part of why they're doing it but it does take time and at the same time if I'm both Muslims I myself joy this I was going to ask this because Wildstein enjoys this traveling all over the world and stuff she does like goodness because she didn't you're a fortunate man. How do you go from Chicago next week and Monday is the
Milwaukee and then I have rehearsal Tuesday on the creation of New York with the Westminster group that is only a fifth of the concerts on the 5th and I was supposed to but I'm going to pack on the sets to start rehearsing there so I won't get there till the sixth night concerts on the 9th and then I get by to do two weeks of the full amount of New York and then there's TV I does much more for. And then I hope to get out to the desert and listen to the Palm Springs weather and then Philadelphia and then Washington. Oh you know it's only standing over him and then Australia very busy and you have a performance tonight. It's been very kind of you really must take my pleasure on the day of the performance and how the dog has been my pleasure. And we thank you very much. Thank you.
This has been a conversation with Alfred Wallenstein noted American conductor participating where 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 of Zenith radio corporation's radio station WEAA FM. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
A conversation with
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#6 (Reel 2)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Identifier: 69-12-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Chicago: “A conversation with; #6 (Reel 2),” 1969-01-23, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
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