Sunday, April 02, 2006

Conductor's mutual admiration society

In the late 1960s, there was something like a Klemperer-cult in London. His concerts sold out almost as soon as they were announced, as did his records, and young musicians were as keen to hear him conduct as he was to go to their concerts and rehearsals - he got easily bored and listening to music got round that problem. He favoured Lorin Maazel at first, but his favourites were Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim, the latter mainly in those days as a pianist.

Before his own concerts, he liked a few people to go to his dressing room perhaps half an hour beforehand to talk quietly while he composed himself for the work ahead. We were sitting once like this with Boulez when suddenly Klemperer said, 'Mr Boulez, are you married?' 'No,' said Pierre. 'Very good!' came the reaction. He did not approve of the modern way in which all young pianists, even conductors, are friends and form some sort of mutual admiration society. 'In my day, Furtwängler and Bruno Walter and Kleiber and I hated each other! It was more healthy!'

From The Tongs and the Bones, the Memoirs of Lord Harewood (Weidenfeld & Nicholson ISBN 0297779605)

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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Furtwängler and the forgotten new music

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