Last month, PBS’s Charlie Rose interviewed James Levine, the world-famous pianist and conductor.
This is from 1988. It really was TV worth watching.
Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch died on Friday (22 February) at his home in Grassau, Germany. He was 89.
Wolfgang Sawallisch was highly regarded for his interpretation of the Germanic classics, particularly Bruckner and Richard Strauss.
He’s perhaps best known to American music lovers for his decade as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1993. Eugene Ormandy had first invited Sawallisch to guest-conduct in 1966, and over the years he’d made several recordings with Philadephia. When Riccardo Muti was ready to relinquish the Philadelphia podium, it happened that Sawallisch was equally ready to move on from Munich, and the deal was sealed.
Curiously, though, one of Sawallisch’s most famous Philadelphia concerts didn’t actually involve conducting the orchestra.
It was in February of 1994. A blizzard had effectively shut down Philadelphia, and most of the orchestra members couldn’t get to the Academy of Music. Sawallisch didn’t miss a beat. At his prompting, the Academy threw open the doors to the public – no admission charge. About 600 stalwart concert goers, including the few orchestra members who’d made it to the hall, heard Sawallisch play the scheduled Wagner program on the piano, including the first act of Die Walküre. This was no mean feat! Piano reductions of Wagner’s music are fiendishly difficult. However, Sawallisch had been working with opera singers since his teenage years. This music was in his bones and his fingers.
Although he continued to guest-conduct the orchestra after making the transition to conductor laureate in 2003, in 2006 Sawallisch announced that he was retiring from active conducting. He said was afflicted with orthostatic hypotension, a malady characterized by sudden and unpredictable declines in blood pressure which can cause fainting and dizziness.
Wolfgang Sawallisch obituary at New York Times (registration may be required)
The search below will show you some of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen of England’s countryside, the region that has inspired generations of English composers. It’s Stratford, Bath and Oxford, where you’ll find thatched roofs and true Tudor architectural homes along winding country roads rolling through undulating hills. These images make the countryside in Lord of the Rings look like old abandoned factories in former eastern-block Soviet nations.
Joe Short is the longtime stage manager of the Cleveland Orchestra and a good friend to many of the musicians, but he’s apparently having more fun making sure the stage looks right and all the instruments are safe on the COYO tour than on the many tours he’s made with the parent orchestra. He says “It’s really nice to see how excited the kids are to be over here.”
Many of the larger instruments were rented in Vienna, but they all have to get to the right place at the right time and the orchestra apparently wanted to make sure a pro was in charge when they sent Joe Short over with the young players.