Sunday, December 25, 2005


While driving to Ohio on Saturday, I heard a very nice interview with James Levine in his role as the successor of Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony. I've always thought that James Levine was astounding, a musician for all styles.

He talked about his problems with his legs and how he now sits while conducting. He talked about his baton technique and emphasized his very strong contrast with Ozawa who was known for leaping around on the podium and waving his arms. He was performing a kind of ballet to the music.

In contrast Levine sits quietly and moves his baton a tiny amount. There was even a quote from one of the horn players saying that Levine looked his way with a sense of deep satisfaction instead of giving a cue. The horn player thought he played better than he ever had. Levine emphasized that the music is in the sounds we are hearing and not in the conductor's ballet. At the opera, of course, the conductor is virtually invisible.

Music is such a great thing. We love it so much because its depths contain no bottom.

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