Monday, September 16, 2013

But does it tick the orgasm box?

When considering whether he should or should not conduct Mahler’s reconstituted Tenth Symphony Leonard Bernstein unabashedly said to a colleague “I have one question, will it give me an orgasm?”
That anecdote appears in Jonathan Cott’s Dinner with Lenny. Classical music today is all about box ticking. We ask does it tick the accessibility box? Does it tick the inclusivity box? Does it tick the equality box? Does it tick the funding box? And does it tick the Twitter box? However, somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten the most important question: does it tick the orgasm box?

Dinner with Lenny was borrowed from the Second Air Division Memorial Library, Norwich. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

4 comments:

Scott said...

Been a while since I had my orgasm box ticked.

Reminds me of the retired military officer who went to the doctor complaining of lack of energy.

"Just don't have any energy, even for things I normally enjoy."

"Well, tell me - when was the last time you had sex?"

"1958."

"Hmmm ... rather a long time ago, isn't it?"

"Oh, I don't know. It's only 2115 now."

mahlerman said...

I know that this piece is about incontinence, not Bernstein, but I suppose his antics on the podium represented the apogee of boudoir behaviour in a concert hall. He claimed many times, when challenged, that it was for the band, not the audience; I have my doubts. In New York I heard Schumann 3(dull) + Shostakovitch 5, and predicably he only came alive in the latter (with the last movement too fast, natch!). But he was that sort of performer. At the Barbican, near the end of his life, half dead with influenza, he brought everybody to life with an amazing Candide, against the odds. Personally, I look forward to a time I do not expect to see, when continence and reserve take their rightful place in our concert life. Clapping between movements? No thanks!

Book-hound said...

I'm not a huge fan of Bernstein, but I think he has a point about ticking the orgasm box. As my old composition professor, William Mathias, used to say "Yes, it's all very clever, but does it get you here..." directing a well-aimed prod at the stomach.
Continence and reserve have their place (I too hate applause between movements, and I hate sloppy over the top, overly emotional performances) but sometimes we need to remember what hooked us on music in the first place - that moment when it transported us somewhere else, when it became an otherworldly experience, when it became, well, orgasmic

Gavin Plumley said...

Although the answer to his question was most definitely yes, Bernstein didn't conduct the Cooke performing version. His loss.