Friday, July 01, 2011

Sunday Classics preview: Bruno Walter comes to America


A 1958 interview with conductor Bruno Walter (1876-1962)

by Ken

Although the sound suggests that this interview was recorded on an Edison cylinder (it actually improves suddenly in the last minute or two), we know from internal evidence that it took place in 1958. The maestro explains in his charming accent that he "started conducting in eighteen hundred and ninety-four -- so, sixty-four years ago." In September 1958 Walter turned 82.

It's an interview where fairly pedestrian questions turn out to have fairly interesting answers. I actually transcribed some of it, for the benefit of non-audio-clickers, only I don't know what I did with the transcription, and I'm just not up to doing more transcribing just now. So let me commend to you Walter's description of the nature of a conducting career, especially the peculiar conditions under which a would-be conductor learns his craft -- without benefit of his actual "instrument" until he actually gets a job! Beyond that I hope you'll be charmed (I was, and I'm not easily charmed) by his description of the personal and imaginative qualities required of a conductor.

The interview is included as a bonus with the Guild International issue of Walter's 1941 Met broadcast performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, and our musical offerings tonight come from that performance.


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