A conductor brings almost a century of experience to Beethoven

It’s normal. I don’t have to apologize for that. My early ideals were what I heard Furtwängler do. I heard it several times, in rehear...


It’s normal. I don’t have to apologize for that. My early ideals were what I heard Furtwängler do. I heard it several times, in rehearsal and in concert. It shaped my musical world; it was magical. But, little by little, I discovered that there are other ways of interpreting Beethoven’s music that are at least as motivated in what he wrote.

It’s not easy for a conductor, or for any musician in charge of interpreting this music, to get on Beethoven’s wavelength, because you have so many memories, so many ideas on the music from what you heard. You must free yourself from it if you are impatient. It requires you to change your mind, but I think that’s what we need to do. Once you get used to it, you discover new expressions in music that maybe weren’t so obvious a hundred years ago.

What about the fermata on the last of the four notes in the pattern?

From a musicological point of view, the climax shows that the tempo no longer exists. What really says how long a fermata lasts, in this case, is the length of the arc. When the curtsy is at the end, you have to stop, unless you want to do two curtsies, which some people do. I think this misses the point, because holding the fermata with a single downward arc requires excellent muscle control. If you do two, you don’t need to have that tension in your arm; it’s too easy.

Why do you think Beethoven remains such an obsession for so many of us?

One could write an entire book on this subject, but one thing characterizes me. We know that Beethoven suffered, but he never expresses his suffering in his music, as Mahler does. You can hear it in every measure of Mahler – I suffer, I suffer, I suffer – and it’s wonderful the way he does it.

Beethoven was a different type of person. He does not show his emotions, which makes him more objective. He can represent everyone’s suffering, not only his own, but mine, the suffering of the whole society. The suffering of today, in Ukraine for example. It could symbolize anything. It helps it survive the composer’s personal situation, or the performer’s personal situation. It’s something we go through, as human beings.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A conductor brings almost a century of experience to Beethoven
A conductor brings almost a century of experience to Beethoven
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