On Nationalism

On Nationalism
June 25, 2020 leonard slatkin

As of this writing, and starting with next season, there will be few Americans leading the nation’s top twenty orchestras as music directors. Does it matter where someone is from when it comes to heading our largest musical institutions? This chapter is not about composers. That will be handled in another portion of the book.

Over the years, I have come to realize that until the late 1940s, most—but not all—of our orchestras were led by conductors from other lands. They were the ones who championed the music of this country and premiered so many of the pieces that have become standards.

What do you think? And is there still a difference in style as we continue into this century?

Question or suggestion (1)

  1. Walter Tomaszewski 1 week ago

    The great 19th Century Russian writer and actor Anton Chekhov once wrote, ‘…the best writers, or at least, the ones who intoxicate you, are the ones who are going somewhere and beckon you to follow,….’ I would say that the same holds true for any artist, and this includes conductors. They take you through a musical landscape (unfamiliar or well-worn), point out this, highlight that, and at journey’s end thank you for being company on the trip.

    To me, it doesn’t matter who does the leading/conducting. Every conductor will approach a work from a different point of view; that keeps any work, especially the ones that get a lot of play, fresh and exciting. It’s the trip, not the destination that’s important. Whoever is acting as tour guide, no matter from where, will always have something new and exciting to say.

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