Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • MARCH 2013

    When asked who he thought was the greatest living composer, Leonard Bernstein replied, “Beethoven!”

    Having spent three full weeks traversing the nine symphonies, I can only come to the same conclusion. Of course there were weeks, months and a lifetime of study leading up to these performances. Thoughts and ideas changed and a feeling of being overwhelmed permeated my being.

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  • FEBRUARY 2013

    When exactly do people stop wishing each other a “Happy New Year”?

    This one started out with quite a varied repertoire, and some interesting venues along the way. First up was Rotterdam, scene of the heart attack. The program was certainly designed to keep the festivities of January going, with music by Strauss Jr. and Gershwin. Many European orchestras celebrate for the whole first week of the month and the Rotterdam Philharmonic was no exception.

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  • JANUARY 2013

    Happy New Year!

    The world did not end so now we must await the next apocalyptic prediction. In the meantime, there was a lot to catch up with during December.

    Following the Mahler 3 performances in Lyon, the next week was spent in the recording studio, or in our case, the concert hall. The ONL and Naxos have embarked on a truly ambitious project. We are committing all the orchestral works of Ravel to posterity. This includes the operas, other vocal works, transcriptions by Ravel and others as well as the usual suspects. There are some works that have never been recorded before.

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  • DECEMBER 2012

    Another busy period, one filled with great music and sports heartbreak. The Cardinals did not make it to the World Series but the Tigers did. They needn’t have bothered. San Francisco took them out in four straight games.

    I had a wager with Michael Tilson Thomas. Whichever team lost, the losing conductor had to wear the opposition’s cap to a rehearsal. In addition, a gift basket of local foodstuffs was to be sent to the other orchestra. Not only did I sport the chapeau upon my return to the DSO, I also wore it on our webcast.

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  • NOVEMBER 2012

    It is that time of year again. No, I am not speaking of the complex season of concerts, but rather the baseball playoffs.

    And I am potentially in big trouble this time.

    As I am writing, Cindy and I are about to take off for Lyon. The Cardinals and Giants are starting game six of their series, with the winner going to the World Series. Whichever team triumphs, they will be facing the Detroit Tigers for the ring. People have been asking whom I will root for if this takes place. Being out of the country won’t help, as the Internet knows no borders. I wish there was some way that both could win.

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  • OCTOBER 2012

    Taxi cabs with doors that open automatically. Warm toilet seats that salute you when you enter the restroom. People bowing respectfully when you enter and leave a building.

    Yes, it was great to be back in Japan.

    Originally I was not supposed to return until November 2014, but Andre Previn decided that he could not conduct three weeks in a row and I picked up the middle set of performances. As it turned out, I had the time and was anxious to return after some wonderful performances last season.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2012

    Some people loathe going back to work. I relish it, especially when it entails conducting one of the biggest masterpieces in the repertoire.

    Performances of the Berlioz Requiem are still a relative rarity. It turns out that even in Lyon the work has never been performed at the orchestra’s home auditorium. This was the season opener and you could not ask for much more in the way of a spectacular start.

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  • MID-AUGUST 2012

    There are some promises that must be broken occasionally. After vowing a real vacation this summer, I accepted an invitation to be one of the participants in John Williams’s 80th birthday concert at Tanglewood. The actual date of his coming into the world was in February, but John only wanted one celebration and it was to take place in the Berkshires.

    When I was young, John was but a studio pianist in LA. It could hardly have been predicted that he would become one of the most important composers in the world. He worked often with my parents, showing the curiosity for the music business that would mark his entire life. From his role as a keyboardist, to that of an arranger, to a jingle and TV composer and finally to the big screen, John’s path was clear and well defined.

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  • AUGUST 2012: Leonard Goes to a Rock Concert (Sort Of)

    Several months ago, I vowed that I would actually take a vacation for most of the summer. That meant little conducting, a bit of study and a lot of sleep. One of the downsides of the conducting profession is the inevitable life on the road, so I decided to spend the majority of down time at home. We have a lovely house located far enough from downtown as to be thought of as an escape from work.

    My son was visiting, preparing for life as a college student. He will be attending USC, bringing a part of my earlier life back into play. His course of study includes music management. I am not sure if it will be “My Son, the Agent,” but he has become fascinated with this part of the business. To that end, I was just a little surprised when he learned that the rock group Yes was coming to the Detroit area to perform.

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  • AUGUST 2012

    As I write this, we are less than a week from the publication of Conducting Business. The first copies are now in my hands and it looks very good. There was just the slightest tremble in my hand as I ripped open the box containing the tome and wondering if this really was happening.

    There will be some book signings, radio shows and newspaper interviews to do. In Lyon I was asked if there was anything about my new orchestra in the book. Sadly, no, as not enough time has passed for me to include this experience. Maybe there will be a second edition, with an expanded last chapter. And then there is volume three, which will come after book two, Conducting Standards.

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