Creative method; Leopold Stokowski on conducting
The creative method the National Association of educational broadcasters presents Leopold's Tokarski on conducting here first is Lyman Bryson. How does a conductor bring together all the elements in an orchestral performance. How does it feel that he knows all the musical score can express so that he can with his knowledge of instruments and players create a great performance. Here from our conversation on conducting is Leopold Stokowski's answer first. I study the score physically so to speak. I mean by that. What are the notes. What are the rhythms. What are the harmonies What are the melodies. What is it like physically. Then gradually I try to penetrate into the psychological side of the score. What what was the inspiration of the composer. What feeling. What.
Psychological message does he want to convey through that score. Now that might be the message might be something extremely. Great deep serious quite might be something very gay and light that the joy of life. It could be all kinds of things because music expresses every possible emotion or experience that the human mind and human spirit knows and experiences in life. You're listening to Leo posta KOSKY on conducting. Creative many. Areas.
The conductor as Creator are one of 10 conversations with creative Americans about the nature of their work. The creative method. Prepared by WGBH FM in Boston under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center. Later we'll tell you how you may obtain excerpts from verse and 21 other radio I say is on the creative process an American arts sciences and professions. But now Leopold Stokowski on conducting. And here is Lyman Bryson. I suppose if you will undertake to prepare something for a concert you've already heard it actually played one of the Guinness analysis yet again that you collect the score for the speaker. What course I like to conduct the great music of the great masters Naturally we all like that but I like very much to conduct music that never has been conducted before the contemporary music being created by young composers all over the United States
and all over Europe and in Asia too. I'm receiving very interesting things from China and Japan and India and Asiatic countries you know Western Mozart Bach especially. Yes yes National they have to be for our instruments. Although the feeling of the music can be of their culture but our instruments have to play it because we do not have the instruments of those. For example the Arabic instruments or the Japanese or the Chinese instruments the Hindu instruments we do not have. But the great thing about music to remember I think is that it has two sides to it. Just as we have our physical side our body and our. Life and the way we live our life whole Cadillacs and forwards and gasoline stations and drugstores and all those material things which
make up our life. Eating and drinking and so forth but we also have our in a life which is something quite different. Absolutely. Of another nature. Our life of feeling and dreams of types of religious feeling of cultural things our delight in the arts our delight in nature everything that goes on inside of us the inner life that. It shows the other side of our life and music is the same way. Music has its physical being and it's nonphysical being. It's psychological for. How shall I. It's like I never could find the right word for what I'm trying to say now. But it's not the physical side. It's not just playing or singing the right notes in the right tempi and the right rhythms and all that. That's the physical side but there's the other side. You wouldn't call it spiritual. It is sometimes spiritual in for you for example in music
of Bach and Beethoven it's often Brahms it's often spiritual but in certain kinds of creative jazz it's just a joyous rhythm and carefree love to dance and be happy together. Perhaps we might call a spiritual tone without degrading the word. Yes all right if if you wish. Of course it's well to. Differentiate between the music of the great masters the serious music the profound music of the masters and that gave of carefree music that our jazz composers create some of it in my opinion is very important because it does not look back to old forms but it. Has the courage to create new forms new kinds of rhythm new book The kinds of orchestration to to use
new sounds new instruments and these gradually come into the more. Symphonic type. Does there seem to be an emotional or spiritual meaning in the work when you begin to analyze you know all of it. Well oncet come to us already Spirit has a meaning only very slowly. It really takes me slow. It takes me years to find the real message. For example the music of Brahms or bed Tovan or bark. And many other composers I am constantly finding new depths in it new meanings and new nuance of emotion. And it takes many performances and many many rehearsals and much study and much kind of thought and an analytical thought
to gradually find the true depth of meaning. And that seems to me sometimes that that such meaning is infinite that it goes on for ever and ever. It just depends on the limitations that are in me in my limitations. Otherwise I would understand it more. That of course you don't wait for this exhaustion of meaning you don't wait to get it all you see are not what something you have to do now how do you explain to your artistry Why don't explain anything to the donor thank you. I never talk to the less sickly artist who doesn't understand the spirit of anything less they understand about themselves. No but the less a conductor talks the better. We must take the first rehearsal anything goes wrong I stop and try again to put it right. We make the second rehearsal by that time. There usually are no mistakes. The third rehearsal now
we are finding more sensitive forms of expression. And greater freedom of rhythm. And by the fourth rehearsal we have still greater freedom and more eloquence of expression then come the concerts. One or two concerts usually usually pairs of concerts I like to conduct pairs of concerts and then gradually that inner spirit begins to emerge and become clear and just the orchestra know what that enter spirit is it all. I don't know. I never asked any such questions because I think it is perfectly clear that when they play well and with an understanding of the music not understanding of the head but understanding of the heart through the heart they understand the feeling of the music. It is quite clear that they to some degree have understood that. But of course it takes years to more fully
understand. That would depend somewhat Would it not just a cascade on how much that artistry had worked with you or with any other kind. Now you know now that artistry is an instrument. No good or Castor is a number of wonderful players with good instruments in their hands and mastery of those instruments whether they've ever played together before or not is much less important than most people think. Is there anything mysterious in the way in which a good conductor gets out of an orchestra what he wants. There is no greater mystery in the whole world in my opinion. I simply I believe I can do it but I don't know how. All I know is that. I feel the music a certain way. And I look at the players and ask of them not by words of course just by looking at them.
A certain kind of phrasing a certain kind of feeling and they give it. Now what is that form of communication. I don't understand but it is a form of communication. Some conductors have it and some do not. I believe I have it but perhaps that's just perhaps prejudice in favor of myself. Which you seem to have companions in that prejudice who think you know you're going some other conductors and if there are if there are mysteries of that sort are there any mysteries in the way in which you appreciate or understand or grasp the meaning of the music. Is this a matter just training. How much of it is in your your natural gift as a musician must be a great deal. I don't understand it very much. I think I have a talent for conducting. Perhaps again prejudiced but after that
it's just a question of study study study. I studying all day and every day new. Use cause you see all the scores on the shelves. I'm studying these things and it cannot be done. No matter whether if one does have talent it cannot be done without very deep intense study and constant study because just as space is infinite. So is music in for that. All the arts are infinite all the possibilities of life what is infinite and everything in our life is really really very mysterious that life exists at all is mysterious. Some people say Mr Stokowski that. It's better not to know too much about music when you're listening that the conductor will give you what he wants you to have and you shouldn't yourself know too much about the music. Have you
any feeling about the audience in a case like this what do you think about your audience when you conducting or do you think about them at all now. But I think about them at other times. But while conducting you know the modern orchestra is extremely complex and while conducting one must watch. Every instrument every player because even if you have as we have in every other custom many violin players for example we have perhaps 34 36 or 38 violin players. They all have the same instrument but not really all violins are different. I never saw or heard two violins that were alike in the whole world. All POWs are different. The hands of the players are different to the the inner life of those players. Their ancestral memories are different their nervous systems are different the ways of approach to music are different. Their education in
music so it is extremely complex and while conducting one has one must concentrate and concentrate on the music and the bringing together of all the different instruments and different groups of instruments in the right proportions so that they balance the sounds balance so that you achieve carroty of sound so that the listeners can understand what is important. What stands out in relief so to speak. Which instrument sound out more prominently than the others. And water in the background just like in the picture. Certain things in the foreground unimportant and in different planes behind them are more distant. Objects or more distant colors. So it is in music. There are many planes so to speak and some are very prominent some are less prominent some still less prominent and some very soft in the background. If those planes are not in
proper proportion then the music does not sound clear and the listener naturally cannot understand. Do you think that the spiritual meaning is we were calling it a while ago of the patient music is conveyed to a listener who doesn't get these subtleties of structure. Of course yes he doesn't have to understand the structure of the music nor every listener is different. There are probably about 3 billion people on this little planet that we live on and all of 3 billion people are different and no two alike and that's to listen as they all approach it by a different way. But I think that's one of the great things of American life. The big thing is freedom. The freedom to listen to music the way you like to to have your own feeling and your own ideas and your own if you like criticism of the music.
But that freedom is a wonderful thing and everybody should listen to music in my opinion in their own way not try to imitate it imitate anybody else. Otherwise that the impression of the music will become confused and not clear. Going back to the question of the relation between the orchestra and the composer or the conductor rather mistress Tokarski. Is the understanding that the conductor has the capacity of the individual members of the orchestra influenced in any way by his own relation to any instrument. Does he have to be himself a solo performer or is that of any help to him I know some conductors are and some are worse. Yes conductor should in my opinion understand every instrument in the orchestra well enough to play. He sort of played it sometime in his life. Yes. Particularly the stringed instruments.
I was fortunate. My first instrument was the violin when I was a little child so that the sting instruments seem natural to me. But later I studied wind instruments were doing brass instruments and played them myself so as to understand the difficulties which every player has because sometimes composers ask of an instrument what is against its nature. But the big thing to remember is that the orchestra and its conductor are only means to an end. The important things they are relatively unimportant. The important things are the composer and the listener. The composers were taking really great composers like Beethoven had certain inspiration. It's the duty and privilege of the orchestra conductor to try to convey those ideas at those inspirational ideas clearly to the listeners. So
we are only a means to an end the end is a conveyance of inspiration and beauty from the great masters to sensitive listeners. I have heard it. Koski that there's too much music in America that the radio and the records have cell flooded people with music that there's no discrimination and they're being pushed into careless hearing which That's all just nonsense that's just nonsense. Nobody has to listen to the radio lasy wants to. Nobody has to buy a record and take it home and listen to it unless he wants to. Again it's freedom that creating this country is freedom. I travel in many countries in Europe in Asia in Africa in South America in Central America and always when I come back you have this sense this wonderful sense of freedom. And through this freedom although it's true that there is a great deal of music in this country by radio and television now records
motion pictures all kinds of ways. But nobody has to listen to it unless he wishes to. Are we expressing this freedom that you find so important in the new music getting into our music. I couldn't tell you. But if I have the pleasure of meeting you about two hundred years from now I cannot answer your question. Text that long and takes a long way to make its meaning quite I think it's taken a long time for example for us to really evaluate the greatness of Shakespeare. I think he has now a new life through motion pictures. Shakespeare is going into a new. Dimension so to speak and more people in his time. Probably two or three hundred people listened to his plays and saw his plays. And now millions do. So it's hard to tell what will be in the future and what will be
regarded as great in the future. But I do think it takes time for music. It takes time and many hearings to really evaluate any composition. Does the content of music and the spiritual meaning of music remain the same for instance. What Mozart was trying to say to his people are did say to his people is he saying the same thing to us now because life is so different. It's a good example that you mentioned Mozart. He lived in a time really before the French Revolution and the American Revolution where life was very very different and people lived much more slowly. For example that time was not so crowded as today and they were not moving about so fast and things were much more tranquil and they had a certain feeling of. Perhaps polite beauty and more.
We are different to how to describe how we are today but I think that Mozart to me Mozart is a kind of ideal beauty. I went sometimes I have great troubles in my life. I find consolation in Mozart's music almost more than in any other composer. Is it possible you say that you feel that you have yourself a talent for being a conductor. This is a talent that can be recognized early and young people and trained. Oh yes yes. I think talent in music. Grows and shows itself more clearly than almost any other talent including the talent to be a conductor. I'm not sure that about taking Mozart for example. What an extraordinary boy he was and Mendelssohn also.
Some of the early compositions of Mendelssohn which almost forgotten now. Amazing what he did when he was 16 and 17 years old. He wrote masterpieces that age when most boys are playing baseball and having a great time that way. This man was creating masterpieces and of course Mozart was too. The reason I asked that Mr. Caskie is because we're also interested in finding in surrounding any young people we have with talent with the proper conditions to bring that talent out. Not to encourage them too much but to encourage them too little. What do you do with a young person shows musical talent. Well I think it's very much like. The. Vegetation of this verse. All I am a farmer at heart I love nature and
I have a farm which I like very much. Nature took vegetation to grow need sunlight and air and water and the minerals that are in yours. Similarly musical talent needs conditions. It should not be. I saw blocks your ears not that might because luxury often corrupts people. On the other hand it's terrible to think that such a great geniuses should be that practically starved all his life and died much too soon Mozart died much too soon too because although Mozart was very famous he was on the edge of starvation most of his life. We have big talent in this country not only in the big cities but all over the country.
We should try to understand it and give it good conditions particularly composers need performance so that they can listen to their music. When a painter paints a picture he puts the colors on the canvas and he can go off at a distance and look at it and see if it's the way he wanted to be and he finds certain things not yet right he goes close again and keeps working at that until he has it to where he wants it to be. And then he says it's finished. The composer writes little black marks on paper and when he's finished doing that it's not yet finished. He must listen to it. He must see. Has he achieved what he aims at. And if he can hear it many times he will then gradually change it and change it until he's finally satisfied. But he cannot do that while it's still. So to speak. Without life on paper we must be brought to life. So you
must have performances and the young talented composers of today are not having enough performances. Leopold Stokowski on conducting And here again is our host and commentator for the creative method Lyman Bryson. Mr Stokowski insists that if we are going to develop to its full extent the talent which we have in this country for a great musical performance of all cons then young musicians must have a chance to perform. Young Composers must have a chance to hear their work perform. People who are aspirants to be conductors must have a chance to conduct. I think sometimes we forget this because musical culture in America is so rich by reason of recorded music and broadcast music. We forget that the reproduction of classics the reproduction of new sensationally known virtue also does not give the young musician much chance to make his way and talented music like every other
talent can't be developed without exposing itself to public approval or public criticism. Mr Gonski thinks that you can't exhaust a great score but the meanings that there are in it that the conductor can find if he works at it hard enough and sincerely enough are inexhaustible on that account naturally he thinks that one never gets to a point of knowing all there is that a composer has to say and you will note that when he discusses the creative work of the conductor he is describing a collaborative fact he's describing a collaborative effort. He's saying that the conductor must know all instruments how to play them have played them himself it possible he was know what can be expected of the men who have these instruments in their hands. But above all he must know what he thinks the composer intended to say. And as conductor it is his business to see that the orchestra in its final performance comes as close as possible to that conception. The
meaning of the music as the composer wrote it. I think it's worthwhile calling attention also to the fact that in this series of talks about the creative method practically everyone. Our guess these men who represent creative effort have said the same things to the young person. They have described the creative method as something one gets into by reason of courage of moral character as Mr. Sherry said. But there is a series of things which are necessary. Nobody can get very far without talent of course. But the mistake that the young person makes so often to think that talent alone and temperament are enough. No. After that you must have the widest possible general education. How are you going to search for the meanings that a great composer put into a score. Unless you know a good deal about the world. Then you must have your technical training. You must know all about the instruments the resources that you have in your
work whatever it is. Then you must have courage and conviction which will enable you to put in the amount of hard work the industrious devotion which is necessary to succeed no matter what gifts you bring to the task. And then in this interested me especially nearly every one of them even Mr Stokowski as an orchestra conductor said never get away from nature always bring yourself back to that out of which we all came and which is the creative method is one of our ways of searching and using for the development of our spirits as men and the citizens of the world. Thank you Dr. Bryson. You've hardly a poster KOSKY The conductor as Creator our one of 10 Conversations furthering our understanding of creativeness and American arts and professions. The creative method is recorded by WGBH FM in Boston under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center. Producer Jack Dee Summerfield with Lalan thought your
- Creative method
- Leopold Stokowski on conducting
- Producing Organization
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program presents Leopold Stokowski discussing successful creative methods for conducting.
- Other Description
- This companion series for The Creative Mind presents radio essays on a creative activity by an outstanding representative of that activity. Dr. Lyman Bryson hosts.
- Media type
Host: Bryson, Lyman, 1888-1959
Interviewee: Stokowski, Leopold, 1882-1977
Interviewer: Cavness, Bill
Producer: Summerfield, Jack D.
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-55-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Creative method; Leopold Stokowski on conducting.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wd3q124g>.
- APA: Creative method; Leopold Stokowski on conducting. 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-wd3q124g