Thomas Stevens

Conductors-Alternative Views III

  • General Quotes

Hindemith Quotable With Comment

Quotable: “.......There was a time when leading an orchestra was the exclusive task of men with a universal musical wisdom, when outstanding musicianship and human idealism were the foremost requirements. Granted that today we have many conductors with these old-time qualities, we nevertheless cannot overlook the fact that with the many times greater number of orchestras and hence the multi-production and consumption of conductors, their musical wisdom is frequently anything but universal, their musicianship doubtful, and their idealism replaced by an insatiable vanity and deadly fight against any other being who happens to wield a baton. That a great conductor, one of the first-mentioned class, has all the success he deserves according to his talents and efforts is understandable and praiseworthy, but that in general the caste of conductors plays a role in our musical setup that seems out of proportion when compared with that of other musicians, must have reasons that are not purely musical........”- Paul Hindemith, A Composer's World (previously cited).

The comment (above) was made a half-century ago. (The book was based on Hindemith's 1947 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University.Things haven't changed much since that time. In fact, they may have gotten worse!)