In his position as a form of classical music professor to the tv audiences of America, Leonard Bernstein got here throughout as supremely genial and affected person. However that doesn’t imply he devoted his personal profession as a conductor to agreeableness above all. Right here on Open Tradition, we’ve beforehand featured the event in 1962 when he carried out Glenn Gould’s efficiency of Brahm’s First Piano Concerto, however not earlier than formally declaring his lack of “whole settlement with Mr. Gould’s conception” of the piece. One other notable second of discord arose a decade later, between Bernstein and the late mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, and it, too, has been preserved forever.
It occurred throughout rehearsals for Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. “Ludwig, seen in this clip in her first rehearsal, begins to sing a verse from the fiendish fourth part, ‘Von der Schönheit’ (Of Magnificence), however struggles to slot in all of the phrases at Bernstein’s breakneck tempo,” writes Basic FM’s Maddy Shaw Roberts.
“She shakes her head and walks over to his stand, telling the maestro: ‘I can’t sustain.’ The pair then launch right into a delightfully awkward, bilingual disagreement. ‘That is a lot slower than I ever do it,’ Bernstein retorts. They struggle yet one more time, however Ludwig remains to be pressured to cease as she runs out of breath.”
No matter difficulties arose within the preparation, Bernstein and Ludwig greater than acquitted themselves within the last efficiency, which you’ll be able to see in full in the video simply above. (The important thing second comes on the 26:15 minute mark.) And based on Ludwig, their inventive relationship was removed from tough. “With Bernstein it was real love, I have to confess,” she instructed the Italian journal Musica. “When singing with Lenny there appeared to be an electrical present coming from the orchestra, the conductor and the singers on the stage which went out into the general public, forming a circle during which love, sensuality and eroticism turned blended. Bernstein didn’t simply conduct the music however he appeared to dwell it bodily as if he was composing it at that second.” It might hardly be a lot of a stretch to suppose that, on the deepest stage, she agreed with him that there are occasions — as in Das Lied von der Erde — when readability should give method to ardour.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the ebook The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.