Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
He could do a bit more with the left hand, but the hair’s perfect and most of the rest will come with time.
Does he remind you of anyone?
Das Wunder K?
Either the kid’s a genius or grown ups standing in front of an orchestra and flapping their wings ain’t as hard as it looks. What I would like to know is did the lad actually prepare the orchestra, too? Now that would be something, He’s nearly nine now, just about ready to take on Tristan u Isolde.
“I know what I want and I want what I know”…Lorin Maazel conducting the NBC Symphony at about 14 yo. But the hair is really a blond Riccardo Muti, perfect coif which always falls back perfectly into place. Yhere’s also a bit of Esa Pekka.
But, what is the point? Does he have an ear, other musical skills? Is this exploitation? Those child beauty pageants come to mind and we all know how badly some of those winners have turned out.
The orchestra is not the Berlin Phil-understatement of the year. He also has gestures that are obviously learned and repeated for effect (folding his arms and stopping his gestures at exactly the same musical moment for example). Fast forward 20 years, please. It might be interestimg…or not.
Mr. Grinch makes himself heard. Give the kid a break. He’s only seven. And he’s terrific.
Yes, the kid needs a break. Badly. From the spotlight.
He should go out and play, have fun and grow up like a kid.
To develop musically he should sing in a children’s chorus, practice his instrument, play chamber music.
Ferenc Fricsay was arguably one of the most comprehensively trained conductors ever (in my opinion also one of the very best conductors of the 20th century). He studied piano, violin, clarinet, tromobone, percussion and composition. He started the piano at 6, then the violin at 10. He made his conducting debut at 15. So at age 7 or 9 he was studying the piano, not waving his arms in front of an orchestra.
My he preserved from becoming another Lorin Maazel. One has been quite enough.
The kid has clearly been watching too many Vienna New Years concerts and has taken many of his mannerisms from the various conductors at those events (such as deliberate non-conducting) even when those mannerisms are PRECISELY NOT the right thing to do with a youth orchestra of any quality. Musically, there were no original ideas nor any reassuring reference to a printed score, much less one of the critical editions of the piece, which contain some pretty obvious alterations in places. Can he even read music? do transpositions in his head? conduct a full rehearsal and come up with an original interpretation? I suspect that there are even professional adult conductors who fail at least one of those three questions.
The kid listened to a recording of Böhm and/or Karajan, and is doing gestures corresponding to his memorization of the piece. Other musical kids can also do this….nothing to really get excited about.
The maturity and understanding of the viennese coffee-house music is missing, but that is fine for him.
Sweet to look at, that´s it, his parents can be proud.
What is impressing me, it’s his very strong inner rythm. Especially in a slow pulsation….He really fills the space between two beats. Now, as Wagner wrote in his essay “about conducting”, “only the orchestra musicians or the singers really know what a conductor is worth”. And this is a fact easliy forgotten by the entire musical world. Managers, critics, everybody has his word to say about conductors, because nobody really understands, watching and listening from “outside”…But only THEY know. And should decide. This is a statement from conductor that has always made his career out of the orchestra’s support and, fortunately, never waited for the “blessing” of the “experts”. So, even I, after over 1,200 performances at the head of the greatest orchestras of the world, can’t tell you if this young guy has a future. Ask the orchestra!!!!
It’s hard to believe that you can’t really judge, but I’m wondering about the orchestra at the three minute mark. The violinist on the right seems to be smirking. I don’t know what to make of it! Is he just kind of laughing because it’s a cute kid, or does he realize that it’s a bit of a joke.
P.S. Thanks for all the stuff, but I couldn’t find any of the things you mentioned in your text.
Alexander…It’s probably a litle of everything. You have to look up the concert that Danny Kaye conducted with the NY Philh, years ago. It was the best pastiche of all kind of conductors (and, technically speaking, excellent! He had been practicing with Mehta himself for months). So, yes, there are many “jokes” about conductors, fake conductors, “would-be” conductors. Don’t you think that lawyer (I won’t say a name) who specialized into Mahler 2nd, to the point of publishing his own version, is a joke? I prefer that young boy. At least he’s innocent!
Can’t wait to see your father with my orchestra soon….
REVOLTING IN EVERY WAY
At the end of the video it mentions how long he has been studying. So in just six months he learned all the physical aspects of conducting this piece, which is not easy at all to conduct. He also memorized the music and there is music in him and he can show it in his arms.
So as Mr. Lebrecht wrote the rest will come with time. He is a big talent.
The orchestra sounds pretty good for a student ensemble too.
Yet he reminds me of Harnoncourt (who is not revolting in any way).
You got it. Just like Nikky H.!
Any relation to Stanislav?
This is a very lovely marketing tool for Prof. V. Neymer. I’m sure he’ll gather lots of parents wanting their children to be “taught” conducting which should make him a nice little profit.
As for young Edward – I think he’s wonderful – no matter how he learned the music and how choreographed the gestures may be, it is very clear that he has incorporated the music, its infused in him and that shows, plus the memorization for a 7 year old is to my mind pretty good. All things being considered he looks good up there and I hope he stays with music.
Well, I didn’t see him look at nor turn the page in his score, so I’m going with memorization here. The kid’s not bad, but still, I find it humorous that even a male of single digit age is preferred on a podium to a fully qualified female conductor. One barrier that just never going to fall on an across the board basis (yes, I am aware that there are some in the world, but none have the directorship of a major orchestra, and in the US, not even a second tier….).
I wonder how well he plays piano, how well he reads music, and whether he’s tried his hand at composing. Children are fantastic mimics. It’s very easy to memorize a piece and wave your arms along to it, but it’s very difficult to learn a score (without relying on recordings!), develop a unique and personal interpretation of it, and then convey that interpretation to an orchestra. At his age, cultivating those skills is a lot more important than developing stick technique and showmanship.
I’m sure he’ll go bald at eighteen.
So a child has effectively been taught a dance routine over six months by adults who should know better. So what?
This is disgusting and nothing to do with conducting. Just look, for example, at the way he’s been taught to show a delayed last crotchet in the third bar of the waltz theme every time it comes – and how the orchestra play blithely on. It’s choreography. And if he keeps jerking back and forth like that he’ll hurt himself: good job 7-year-olds are relatively flexible and mendable.
No disrespect to the kid – I’m sure he hasn’t a clue what’s going on and I hope he grows up to be great at what he loves, whatever that is.
Does he remind you of anyone? William Hague
Up to the hairline, perhaps.
The ideal “instant Maestro” for cynical managers and recording houses these days. They can control him like a puppet, and whatever happens he’s going to be grateful, critics indulgent and audiences enthusiastic.
It’s just a pity that 99% of a conductor’s work is done preparing the orchestra during rehearsals, not dancing to the music during the performance…..
Having said all that, I’ve seen some who are four times his age and not really any better.
Kids like to copy. It’s a pity that he tries to copy the wrong cd…perhaps the co-worker four times his age too.
Oh yes, I’m sure the kid has a great time being the great Maestro!!!
Sometimes I wish I was a rock man, not having anything to do with this whole classical music lunacy…
Personally I think it’s precisely the attempt to sell “classical music” (I use inverted commas because I don’t like the definition in the first place, it sounds like a department in a record store) as if it were rock, that has turned it into lunacy, especially but not exclusively in English-speaking countries.
It’s the business that’s lunacy, not the music.
He is adorable to look at, but nobody in the orchestra is looking at him. One of the signs of an effective conductor is the ability to engage the players and control the way the phrases move. This well-dressed boy is conducting along with the orchestra, not conduction the orchestra.
They are watching him and he is clearly setting all the tempo changes. He has a powerful presence, is very charismatic and difficult to ignore.
What a bunch of grinches.
As Nurhan says, some are watching — the ones closest to him, the two male violinists are definitely watching him (I couldn’t see the whole orchestra) and with seeming delight. Maybe you didn’t bother watching the whole thing.
I hope he grows out of the spastic stuff but he clearly knows what he wants and of course the orchestra already knows too but he has an inner pulse that he uses during extended notes and doesn’t let it lag as some do. He may not know much except how the music goes and stick technique at age 7 but the grousers here just sound like grumpy old people – sort of a parody of the stuffiest classical music types. Sometimes the world needs or can use a bit of lightness, for God’s sake.
I meant, of course, “conducting” the orchestra.
Wasn’t it Bernstein who said that the physical essentials of conducting could be taught in an hour? With that in mind here we are not seeing much; a disengaged (and possibly insulted) orchestra playing through a thrice familiar work with a child on the podium repeating thoroughly rehearsed choreography. While we love to see children acting “grown-up”, let’s keep perspective intact: this isn’t much different from having the layman winner of an orchestra raffle “conduct” The Stars & Stripes Forever. If one wants to be a musician, one must learn to play an instrument well, and that accomplishment is indispensable for those who would conduct. It does harm to perceptions of the art of conducting when we take seriously what amounts to a circus act. If this is the future of conducting, then conducting really has little value beyond the theatrical and virtually no effect upon the performance at hand.
Three is virtually no connection between his conducting and what the orchestra is doing. Everyone is working by rote – the players as much as the kid. Sadly, it often little different with adult conductors in front of the orchestra. Lack of rehearsal time, the homogenization of style caused by recordings, international educational practices, and the absence of accepted new literature for over half a century are a few of the reasons the orchestra has faced death by rote routine. Anyway, this is an excellent example of how all art forms eventually die, not through weakness but through a kind of routined perfection that saps it of all life. This isn’t to say, however, that trained monkies aren’t successful. They dominate the field.
What a pity.
No wonder why the whole field of conducting is trash nowadays.
Ego, show off, money, power, mafia.
Everyone believes they can become a conductor and you know what, they can become. Thanks to agents, boards and music critics who are just businessmen and who do not give a damn about music.
And you know what, most of the conductors can not even READ a score.
Guess why people go far away from classical music? Because if there is no music, depth and emotion, it is less boring to go to watch a Holliwood movie.
We are fooled.
Back to MUSIC guys, that’s urgent.
I’m not even going to watch it. I might bring up my breakfast….I also spend time in my job listening to what great conductors have to say in rehearsal, as it is quite often enlightening. I rarely watch them during the concert though, as I am far to busy listening to my colleagues and making music. Sadly the bad ones, of which there are many, are not worth listening to in rehearsal either. Of course my colleagues in the Brass and winds who are too far back to be able to hear all the details during performance need a clear and precise beat to keep together, but as Bernstein said, this conducting technique can be learnt in an hour or two.
Wow, I didn’t know they had the Suzuki method for conducting!
The video of this boy is a tabula rasa, and the commenters are all projecting their biases and preconceived notions on him.
Is he conducting, or just waving his arms? Does he understand the music, or is he just miming? Or is there a difference?
Are the orchestral musicians following him, or ignoring him and playing by rote? Are they enjoying the novelty of being conducted by a child, or mocking him?
Is he cute or nausea-inducing?
Is this an unusual opportunity for a child exhibiting an early talent, or is this the equivalent of an exploitative child beauty pageant? Is he being given the opportunity to have fun at something he enjoys, or is he being denied a real childhood?
I’m utterly fascinated by the commentary, much of which has little to do with the content of the video itself.
Anybody notice the print at the very end: “Learn violin one year. Learn conducting half a year” Unclear whether these refer to the seven year-old conductor or whether they are an advertisement for the institution in Uzbekistan he attends. Either way, it tells you everything you need to know about this poor child and his sponsors. George Szell claimed to be a “pretty finished musician” by the age of twelve. That’s about as much precocity as I can stand.
If you train a parrot, (with arms) maybe he would be able to conduct an orchestra too.
No question, the kid must be talented, otherwise he would be off the beat; he is cute also, but this is just a circus show. Any kid could do it with some musicality and an early sign of ego.
Ah Norman thank you for bringing this to us. Always a joy to follow Slipped Disc
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video for what it was, but after reading all the negative comments here about the kid, I came away very depressed.
Everyone’s a critic and has the need to trumpet his or hers expertise; talk about egos! I’ve rarely seen so many as here at slipped Disc.
Este menino me serviu de MOTIVAÇÃO …..nada é impossível, vou me dedicar mais nos estudos musicais!!!
Pierino Gamba IS conducting that Beethoven, and he seems to have definite ideas about it.
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
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