Thoughts on Conducting

“My idols among conductors are Wilhelm Furtwängler, Carlo Maria Giulini and Carlos Kleiber.”

“Conducting is mysterious but not necessarily misunderstood - except by the uninitiated who may think we are just waving our arms around in time to the music! The mystery is never elucidated completely, because of the unfathomable depth of the compositions we are conducting. The notes are symbols of a vast hinterland of discovery- which is why conducting is mostly about spirituality and intuition. A bandmaster may have sufficient technique to keep his forces together. But that is not the main purpose of conducting…”

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“Musicality and expressiveness are the most important attributes a conductor needs. Conducting technique is not one of the major criteria in the making of a great Conductor. Having said that, you need to have learnt it in order sometimes to discard it!”

“An operatic conductor also needs an intuitive and technical understanding of the needs of singers, plus quicksilver reflexes in order to respond to emergencies!

“Verdi and Mozart are my two favourite Opera composers. I think Mozart is surely the greatest human being ever to have been put on this planet. Goethe says life on this planet is about “Strehben” (‘striving’). Beethoven is the perfect example of this. Maybe a God made a mistake with Mozart: he seems to have been sent straight from Heaven!.”

“I agree with James Levine that Mozart and Verdi should be the twin pillars of an opera House repertoire. And they happen to be my favourite composers. The link between the two is Heart. They are all about heart and straight from the heart.”

“The most difficult work I have ever conducted is the Mahler 9th. The spiritual side of it is overwhelming – it is after all, about death – and from the technical point of view, the two middle movements were difficult for the orchestra…”

“Which do I prefer conducting –symphonic music or opera? I find opera more enjoyable; the drama plus, of course, the fact that I am not the central focus of attention!”

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