Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tales from the Vienna Woods

I caught a few minutes of this morning's new year's day concert with Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic. Today the concert is a shrink-wrapped package of DVD, CD and broadcast rights with guaranteed on-air mentions of the presiding maestros intercontinental enterprises. But it wasn't always like that. Willi Boskovsky, who directs the 1968 new year's concert above, was concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic from 1936 to 1979, and led the new year's concert Vorgeiger-style (but, not in the video above, where he wields a baton) from 1959 to 1979. In Boskovsky's day there were no fringe benefits, and the Viennese conductor was famous for his astute handling of his personal finances. A colleague of mine at EMI, the late Douglas Pudney, told the story of a visit to Vienna to discuss a new recording project with Boskovsky. Douglas was invited to talk business over lunch at the Musikverein. Which turned out to be sandwiches and a thermos of coffee brought from home by Mrs Boskovsky. Strange orchestra the Vienna Philharmonic.

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5 comments:

Pliable said...

Nice photo of Mrs and Mr Boskovsky here -

http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an23123736

Bodie said...

"Strange orchestra the Vienna Philharmonic."

More on the "strangeness" here:
http://www.osborne-conant.org/articles.htm#vpo

honigdachs said...

I have to correct your article about Solti. (Strange orchestra the Vienna Philharmonic.)

The august gentlemen of the Vienna Philharmonic failed to turn up to honour Sir Georg not because he was Jewish, but because they hated him, and hated working with him. He was basically a first-class sh*t. When he died, the LPO, an orchestra which he had helped financially during the 70s and 80s, was asked to provide a eulogy, and they could not find anybody in the orchestra who had a kind word to say about him.
He was an extremely unpleasant man to work with and although the VPO are anti-anything which isn't Viennese, I think their reasons for snubbing Solti were more personal than anti-semetic.


Nick

Pliable said...

I'll leave other readers to debate that comment above and the story by John Drummond that it refers to.

But I would say that I heard Solti conduct in the concert hall. His incandescent Mahler 6 with the LPO at the RFH (1973?), for instance, is burnt into my memory. That wasn't music, it was an emotional hurricane.

I'm not agreeing, or disagreeing, with honigdachs comment. But it is surprising how many great musicians were (or are) also first class sh*ts.

Talking of which -

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2008/07/bbc-fails-to-find-real-karajan.html

Pliable said...

Email received:

I certainly hope Daniel Barenboim is not in the shit category.

However, I did find his humor in Haydn's Farewell Symphony a little "over the top", an minimizing Haydn's humor.

Cheers

David Cavlovic