Saturday, 19 May 2012

My conductors

There have been obituaries of James Gaddarn, a conductor, one of two with whom I've had encounters in my life. In a summer vacation Johnny Walker (of Rastrick, Brighouse) and I were hitching from Oxford to Pembrokeshire to join my parents on holiday and Gaddarn pulled up in an old Rolls Royce and took us all the way. I remember more of the car than the conversation.

My second conductor was in Cambridge, Mass, where I'd arrived by car from Ottawa on a tour with my son in the 1990s; a bed-and-breakfast agency referred us to a house and said we'd like it because the owner was English.  It turned out to be Benjamin Zander, conductor of the lesser of the two Boston orchestras, who invited us to listen to his recording of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring on massive speakers, claiming that his was only performance that delivered the speed the composer had wanted: the players in Stravinsky's own time ‘couldn’t cut it.'  Having generously let us listen and handed us the CD he then informed us of the price. Of course I paid up and have never heard of him since.

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