Thomas Stevens

Conductors-Alternative Views

  • General Quotes

"Who is sitting in that empty chair?"-Eugene Ormandy

From the widely disseminated Eugene Ormandy Quotes:
Mr. Ormandy: “Did you play?”
Musician William Smith: “Yes.”
Mr. Ormandy: “I know. I heard you.”

Personal Experience Favorite: While sitting in a backstage area during a pause between a rehearsal and concert of the Shostakovich Piano Concerto #1, (piano, solo trumpet, and strings) I was studying the trumpet part of a Boulez work I was scheduled to rehearse the following morning. Nev (Sir Neville) Marriner, the conductor for the evening’s concerto performance, walked by, paused briefly to glance at the Boulez part, remarked how difficult it looked, and then offered the following Quotable: Marriner, a successful violinist in his own right, said: “What I’ve learned to appreciate about the “stick” (conductor’s baton) is that everything is always in “C” major!”

Quotable-Speaking of the Stick: “Even the most refined technique of beating time requires scarcely more [?] technique than a skilled percussion player needs for his job.”-Paul Hindemith (A Composers World, 1947) [Hindemith in his wildest dreams would never have believed the incredible skills of today's percussionists.]

At a Stevens’ master class at the Paris Conservatory: (1976)
"Thomas, in France we call them Chefs d’Orchestre. In our country conductors collect tickets on trains."-Pierre Thibaud (guffaws from the students-the American has been put in his proper place)
"Pierrot, a Chef d’Orchestre in America would be the company cook."-Thomas’ response (silence)
Come to think of it............

The Phantom of the Brass Section: “The bass trombone is too loud in the opening fanfare.”-Thomas Schippers, Hollywood Bowl, 1967. “He is not here yet,” responded the first trombonist, “he’s probably stuck in freeway traffic somewhere.” Schippers (trying to cover his ass with humor): “In that case, when he gets here tell him he was too loud.”

Quotable-An All Time Favorite Among Musicians: “……[J]ust as among all other people we find among conductors every shade between dullards and wizards, quacks and cracks.”-Paul Hindemith (previously cited)