Thursday, November 15, 2007

The conductor who hated compromise


"Futile to await your letter my decision is final. I have only one way of thinking and acting. I hate compromise. I walk and I shall always walk on the straight path that I have traced for myself in life. Cordial greetings." - Cable from Arturo Toscanini to Bruno Walter about Toscanini's refusal to conduct in Salzburg in 1938 because of the links between the German and Austrian Governments.

Photograph from Berlin 1932 is an interesting case study in compromise. Follow the links to find out how they stood the test. From left to right Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer and Wilhelm Furtwängler.
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5 comments:

Matthew said...

Again: what would you have Dudamel and Abreu do? Toscanini's gesture didn't directly endanger the educational welfare of a quarter of a million primarily disadvantaged children. Would you have them compromise the efficacy of El Sistema just so they can appear to not compromise politically? Yes? No?

Pliable said...

Matthew, unequivocally yes.

It is amazing what can be achieved by a 'gesture'. It is even more amazing what can be achieved by 'gestures' by young people.

Just eighteen years ago a 'gesture' by young people in Leipzig triggered the collapse of communism across Europe, and it was even supported by a prominent East German conductor - http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2006/03/i-am-camera-leipzig.html

'Gestures' by a black musician helped to bring racial equality to the US - http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2007/01/classical-music-can-help-change-world.html

'Gestures were the watershed that began the removal of discrimination against gay and transgender people - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

etc, etc, etc ...

Bring on the gestures.

DJA said...

So, let's see -- so far, the Chavez government has been equated to Nazi Germany, Communism, systemic racism, and systemic homophobia.

Let's not give him too much credit, all right? While there is no question that Chavez is an antidemocratic thug, Chavez is not Venezuela any more than Bush is America. (Although, you know, if we are comparing death tolls... )

I have not seen anyone insist that American orchestras and conductors touring abroad have the responsibility to, at minimum, pull a US Bridge Team.

Perhaps they should. But perhaps, if we are going to compare modern-day politicians to Nazis and Communists, we should remember who it is that has suspended habeas corpus, set up a system of international gulags, authorized torture, and waged a disastrous preemptive war that has cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.

Pliable said...

This debate has reached the point where both sides have stated their position, and a circular argument is starting to add heat, not light.

There is always more than one viewpoint in a debate. I am sure all participants will now continue to develop those viewpoints on their own blogs.

Pliable said...

This debate has reached the point where both sides have stated their position, and a circular argument is starting to add heat, not light.

There is always more than one viewpoint in a debate. I am sure all participants will now continue to develop those viewpoints on their own blogs - if they have any posts on them.

Cheers from the UK.