A conversation with; #1 (Reel 2)
Now resuming the conversation with Mr Stokowski here is Aaron Parsons. This might be a time to continue along the line of Shostakovich because one of the things that one of the areas of many areas that Mr Stokowski Has she was a specialized in as the Russian school. Here we are preparing for a complete program of Russian music just garbage cuts Torreon and this association of course goes back a very long time doesn't it. You and I'm slimy. I'm Polish blood cool. I was born in England because my grandfather had when he was very into Russian. We lived outside of Libya in a place called Stalky and it comes with a good breakaway and to it it's not just regime the secret police were very cool. They would come in the night and murder and do all kinds of
rape women and steal and so forth. He became my grandfather it was anti-Russian and was too outspoken about it. If he just kept a little quiet it would have been so bad but he was. Very frank and it came a point when it was to go to the north or be killed. So he took the whole family to England where he had friends and I was born there. I see but I like Russian music because I feel it. Your mother was English. I've no Polish polish than some of the dictionaries. This informs us we find well the dictionary is there but you wait many many foreigners here one man princes and everybody else uses it and salutes and all poems with it it's easier for them just to read. I think they know penetrate into the real truth. You're going to say I was going to say that in the case of Shostakovich particularly one thinks of all of these works which you brought to America.
Yes worst symphony this is I must tell you how that happened. Please do. A long time ago. Soon after the revolution I had friends turn chink all over the great theater and Stanislavski they were my friends. And there was the revolution and horrible things were happening and I felt I wanted to go to visit never see how they were so I went to Russia was in terrible terrible was filthy dirty everywhere and smelled horribly feels and and and very unsafe industry too. Later I was in Russia again and I met a young man and he said I have composed this simply will like it happens here all the time. May I show it to you. So he showed it to me
you know I said all this is very interesting. Do you have parts. No. How could the parts being made do you never know the score. No. Could you make with us. Will you give me one. Yes. So I took it with me to Philadelphia and had the parts made and that was Young's sister Corbett she was a boy of 19 or 20. And that's how it all began and that was enough in Petersburg probably you know to do this I don't and I delineated almost most of them. Well one recalls especially as a matter of fact I still have in my library the old 78 rpm recording of the 60 years which is still the greatest reading of it I've ever heard on record. Yes beautiful and it holds up sonically. Which brings us to another point that we're going to get to in a
few minutes and that is Aaron than I have in recent months had a couple of occasions to speak with some rather well-informed recording experts who have told us that they defer in ability to you Maestro because they said Mr Stokowski knows as much about the art. Or if you will the science of recording as any of us works both sides you have you have says I don't need us. You know I started it. A long time ago very long time ago I was asked by a recording company to make records and I refused because I listened to them and they were horrible just they were distortions of the music and the next step was I thought most of that's stupid of you.
Why not study it. What's wrong. Why do they sound so horrible. So I asked somebody I knew a little in the Bell Laboratory in New York. May I come in to study those who what and where a lot of talk you know fine he said Well all right. So I came and then I began housekeeping questions. Then I met a man they're going to move his name you know but very extraordinary man and he said Who are these questions you ask. We should be asking ourselves these questions. Let's go into this a little deeper which we did and then I said let's make some records. We made some and there were very bad. It had a big wooden horn an immense hole will cost a goal. Yes it was before
and double bass didn't sound at all so there had to be played the bass part it was just a distortion. The terrible results. And then gradually we persuaded them to change their methods and then came the possibility of electrical and things became much better. From then on I felt the necessity to understand told because it's the most busy here people take time for granted but it is a very complex thing actually with with all the other parcels and when in a concert hall like this imagine some sound waves are coming this way and others are cutting it cos they want to fight each other. Just like if you throw a pebble in a pool and you see a ring come out so another pebble
and that cuts across a ring and modifies the little wall of light water. That happens with sourdough but we don't we know very little about this. What happens when two sound waves cross through each other to change each other way sure that we notice sometimes results which is distressing which produces a distortion of sound bites. We we had to study that. Then I I went to Paris and related to Bellini and especially in Bellini little invention also. But special Beilin were very important laboratories and I studied there with the Germans and all this led up to the recording which we finally did. To answer your question with the seventy eights in Philadelphia. No we are recording next week on four separate channels in the old days it was one channel
and the age of two. Now it's four. It's going to be eight so we'll hope I'm trying to persuade him not to. Not in this country in another country for eight because then you have more control over different parts of the orchestra. It's again a question of relief. You can make to pursue ones in relief or the violas or second clarinet or whatever it is if the music requires it. If you have 8 channels more than four channels so this is never. Developing evolving technique and the secret again is cooperation and cooperation in the orchestra. As I said cooperation between the engineers and the musicians. All of us cooperate and it can be better done if you understand as I try to
understand the problems of the engineer. Well that certainly is true but so many of the recordings which you made back in the 30s and actually quite early 30s certainly those would be the case with the book. The trust of each sex of which I spoke a moment ago which remains a remarkably good sounding and I'm speaking not only of sound of the sound that was captured on the record sounds still very acceptable in spite of its 78 format. So everybody was doing. Say that in Europe but there's another reason and that is that at that time that orchestra was extremely sensitive and it was possible to lift up and suppress the lift up and suppress which I was doing all the time and it was done like that because through is remarkable. This is very true. I don't believe you know Maestro every need was of a saint to me as we were
getting ready to come over to the Orchestra Hall that he would be curious to know just exactly how the recording of the music for Fantasia came about because this certainly was years and years ahead of you know what it was when I really thought he was a very simple one night I went to a certain restaurant to have to know. And a man came in and sat opposite. He was alone I was alone. And he called across to me and said Don't yourselves where you are is suited to what we have to do together. Yes with pleasure. So I went over to him and we said at the same table it was Tuesday. I learned afterwards and he said I'm thinking of making as thought of what was a French composition
The Sorcerer's Apprentice the project's RCA and I know some of your records. Would you would you like to record it for us. And I said Yes all right let's do it. And so we started working together. We recorded it. With the local law Custer there and then I saw what he was planning as the visual part he had a way of having a series of articles at the call of the help to the chief. Picture one two three four five and then they had to make the in-between the motion the would you call it and measure the animation in between but these were the chief features they had another word for but I've forgotten what it is. And I saw those and Disney big Disney who he had wonderful artists and he
had much imagination he would sell a little more of this and not this more humid here more Turner here and so forth and he'd be had to go very well. Then he said to me you know there's this is good. Why don't we make it on a bigger scale with let's have bad Beethoven Bach All greatest composers which we began to plan and that was fun to hear. And then when that was definite You may when Disney showed me the whole way he wanted to do it and I was suggesting different music to him. So let's go to Philadelphia dude all the Philadelphia Orchestra so we did all over again. The plot is saucy and everything we did with Philadelphia orchestra there and brought it to Hollywood and from then on it went on but that's how it all happened. Now Disney has caught on and I wish we could find another person with the
imagination to go still farther in a direction of great sort of coverage for example like you did with it was Robin's he loved to play after all. That was the beginning of evolution to the world of our little world. The great craggy mountains and what he had already knows a great artist to do it all he has and wonderful people. But this was a multiple channel recording wasn't it 18 18 channel 18. And there certainly will be only have you for today. We have gone back to 4. I hope to have 8 eventually 16 and have to pick up this thread of innovation again. You have played so many young American American composers in addition to the Shostakovich and the other Russians because throughout your career you have fostered the young composer who's
often just getting started and the whole programming is often sort of centered toward seeing that there is some attention to the current musical activities. I am wondering how do you go about selecting these young composers who bring their scores to you. How do you decide which of the hundreds who no doubt have come to you will be heard on your programs. Well I think of it another way. To me music is universal. It has to do with nationality. In fact the whole conception of nationality is causing so much brutality in the world today so much horror and slaughter because of the idea of nationality. Whereas music is beyond that. So the scores come in my
studio to piles of scores and I gradually study them takes a long time to study a score. I can reduce cost too quickly like you read a novel quickly but just it's not good enough. So this cause come from all over the world. I study them as fast as I can on trains and votes wherever I'm traveling or at home. And then I make lists of what seem to me to be have originality and is saying something as an expression of something. Because music can express what words cannot express. Music can express such subtle things that are beyond expression you know. So that's how. Then why not now live making the programmes I have there with me here for next season. Yes for next season.
And they're practically all made up and I'm just waiting for some guest conductors when they sit in their programs or their suggestions. Then I have to balance all of programmes through the whole season. There's too much of this and not enough of this. You know curiously enough in the past we've had too much Beethoven. You can't have too much Beethoven nuisances but I mean in relation to all the islands this year this year following year we have not enough Beethoven I don't know these things happen because as a silly thing of fashion in women's clothes in that there is in the minds of people about music. The president has said by luck everything must be broken nothing must be romantic Oh no it's childish. So he was there's a lot of good and I like all styles. I know you're speaking of the programs for the American symphony.
Yes and you know I'm going to finish and say I do not think nationally. I do not think you could have a can grow closer. But I think it's a good composer. He's saying something of any nation. But it happens that many of them are Americans have been killed so it's curious how your remarks of your moments ago about Shostakovich coming to you and your senior score so often sounded so much like a recent guests recounting of a similar experience. And he had the thrill of his life in being performed for the first time by you and it was Morton Gould. Oh yeah yeah yeah. We were speaking a moment ago of the young conductors. I wonder Maestro if in your judgment the mode of the music director of I'm not speaking of any specific orchestra now but let us say any of
the really top flight American harvesters. If that load has become too demanding for any one man to carry. Definitely yes. Much too much. It's become so all of that because the deficit of the season is so great. And because it's hard to find persons to help with a deficit on account of higher taxation it's become so that the man who is responsible for the finances of the narcos and he then says to the manager we need more concerts. We need more money if it is too great. When it is coming down low and we comes down to music director. So they conducted these low levels really. We need more concerts. So they are giving more
concerts. No union says in a week you can only give so many rehearsals and so many concerts and so many services as they call it. I believe all right that means more concerts less rehearsals. The result of that is lower quality of performance. I am optimistic by nature but I try to be realistic to see how things are. I'm afraid we're going into a very difficult future. And some orchestras may disappear because symphony concerts are a luxury they are not an absolute necessity in life. One can't live without simply concerts. And some people do. Millions do. We never go to a concert. We don't even listen to hundred or nerve record on the radio. Perhaps listen more likely on
television so the future does not look good to me. Overlooking the difficulty with the orchestra itself would you suggest that a solution to the burden the tremendous workload which must be carried by a music director now might be found in having two men an hour. Let me preface what I'm about to conclude with with this. We have asked this question of various former guests on the program and we have received various answers. I would suggest that from your experience in that hearing if I am correct in which you served as music director of The New York Philharmonic and Dmitri Metropolis together carried at the Hall equal share of the concerts now would you. Is this a satisfactory
arrangement. It worse. It would depend I suppose upon the individuals involved. Yes well you see he and I were very good friends. He was a remarkable man with a very clear mind. And he said you do it your way and I'll do it my way. I agreed to that. We had no difficulty at all. Another possibility would be to have the chief conductor who was responsible. And somebody else also first class who would take say 15 percent of the concerts or 20 percent of the concerts. The chief conductor would take 70 percent of the concert or 60 percent of the concerts and then guest conductors would fill in the rest. That is all a question of just
plain common sense only common sense is very uncommon as a rule. I would like to pursue this international attitude a little further you mention the fact that your interest is in music from anyplace. I know that at one time you your interest for music of the Orient was very strong and I believe you spend some time in the Orient studying going to Oriental music. Yeah there's a great school know of Oriental composers who are whose music is being heard in this country. What is your experience with with these composers and this whole like ground where one of the most interesting is Japan in Japan are three kinds of music into the music of Japan which I have studied very early
interesting as a kind of music which is of European origin came into America. It's both European and American and South America. Did they have for example in Tokyo. I don't I only conduct two of the orchestras there but I have seven orchestras in Tokyo. Some of them very are struggling but two or three are flourishing. They perform very well. Our music. But now there's a third thing happening that Japanese composers are composing music which is not like the ancient Japanese is not like the European but is a new kind of Japanese music based on their conception of rhythm and trying to have a theme. I don't know that. So that is a very rich
thing for that country and I think eventually will spread all over the world. The same thing might happen in China because there's there are many kinds of music in China because it's an enormous country. The same thing could happen in India because there's an extraordinary music in India. It could also happen in Java and in Sumatra and in Bali I lived in all those places and you know a little what's happening there. Well this could happen that a new thing could come out of the old not not cocking neo not copying the European but new. Along with this new inter nationalism if we call it that there's a very great coincidence our sympathy with the many elements of the Avalon Guard which is European centered and no American. Because this way of
handling musical sons of the Vanguard is often very much like what you hear say in a Balinese orchestra or in a composition by a Japanese composer for the Jaffa Japan Philharmonic. Yes or the New York Philharmonic. Yes the most I will guide composer ever walked on the earth was. Don't forget. And it went into his science to spread all over. I want to return Maestro Stokowski to something that was said earlier. We were discussing your your book and your chapter on conducting. And you said that the only one can be time and that this is not the important function of the conductor in connection with us. You point out
that an incisive beat is far less important than the communication which arises and I believe you say through the eyes primarily relate to crimes of beating time. What I mean is. Mentor nomic they are going to is for phrasing reasons for balance for accentuation and also for subtlety of intensity and relaxation much music for example of Beethoven and for time it intensifies and it relaxes sometimes as a point of poise. It just is still a bit of it would hide very much that quality in his music of us. Still this mystery quiet and suddenly
activity. So it is for the conductor duty you know privilege is to recreate what the composer put on the paper to bring it into life and there are many ways of doing that. And it depends on the group personality physical mental emotional nervous system how it conducted how he does it. They're all different fortunately. Let's imagine they were all exactly the same. Let's imagine if all the women in the world what exactly the same you know had the same color hair same color eyes the same form the same everything. What a bore with me. So it's just all right to you. Variety is charming said somebody. This one right here which I do says that he must be with different conductors. Mr. Starsky you have given millions of people
- A conversation with
- Episode Number
- #1 (Reel 2)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
- Media type
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-12-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “A conversation with; #1 (Reel 2),” 1968-12-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 2, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb7m.
- MLA: “A conversation with; #1 (Reel 2).” 1968-12-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 2, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb7m>.
- APA: A conversation with; #1 (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-wh2ddb7m