Kaplan Welcome back to"Mad About Music" as we open our new season – our Fifth Anniversary. We'll celebrate that anniversary next month, on Sunday, October 1st, at 8:00 PM (one hour earlier than our usual start time) with a spectacular two-hour special, revisiting the most memorable moments and appearances of about 30 of our fascinating guests. More about that later, but now we begin the season as we meet the maestro of Carnegie Hall, executive director Clive Gillinson.
Kaplan He started his career in the cello section of the London Symphony Orchestra, but if the music was world-class, the finances were not. One day the board discovered the orchestra was actually bankrupt and the manager was asked to leave. While they searched for a top professional, the cellist was asked to fill in for a short while. Twenty-one years later, he was still there, having burnished a reputation as one of the most committed, savvy and imaginative orchestra managers in the world. No wonder when the top job opened at Carnegie Hall, it was offered to him. Next month he starts his second season and as a member of the board of Carnegie, I can personally testify this is one ambitious impresario. Clive Gillinson, welcome to"Mad About Music."
Gillinson Thanks Gil. It's wonderful to be here with you.
Kaplan We'll come to your work at Carnegie in a moment, but first I'd like to start with a question I've asked several other people who have been on the show, because you now become part of a unique club of musicians, as I call them, who went wrong. Now what I mean by"going wrong" is, you gave up being a performer and moved into management. So the question is, was this a difficult decision for you to make?
Gillinson Well, it wasn't an intentional decision at all. In fact, when Penny and I got married, we went out to lunch with my best man, who was in fact the manager of the LSO at the time. And I'll always remember saying at that lunch,"I do not understand why on earth you do this job, managing the London Symphony Orchestra." And so a few years later, there I was, managing it. So, the reality is, it wasn't something I'd ever aspired to. I always wanted to be a musician. And it only happened because the orchestra was bankrupt at the time, the manager was asked to leave and they couldn't find a manager. And so, I was simply asked to go in for three months whilst we found a real manager. And after three months they still couldn't find a real manager, and so I was there for 21 years.
Kaplan Do you miss it, though? And do you still play for yourself, at least?
Gillinson I don't miss it, and I don't play for myself. The interesting thing is, there's lots of things I'm an amateur at and I love doing them. And I'm really not very good at them. But playing the cello is something I did to the best of my ability, and there is no pleasure now in playing the cello a lot less well, and I tried to because my oldest daughter is a very good clarinetist and she wanted to do chamber music. And so, I bought a cello again, as you always do – if your daughter tells you she wants you to play chamber music, you do it. And so, we tried. And in fact, I found it so frustrating playing less well. I just thought,"Either I've got to do it properly or not at all." But the other aspect is – the reason I don't miss it is because I love what I'm doing, and frankly in life I always feel what matters is what you're doing, not what you're not doing.
Kaplan Now what you're not doing, though, is your very first piece, I see, which is a work for solo cello.
Gillinson Absolutely. Well, the Bach Cello Suites, I think probably for any musician, Bach altogether, is the thing, if there's anything you want to come back to throughout your entire life, it's Bach. And through my entire life as a player, it was always what I came back to. I mean they are the most beautiful music. They just take you off into a completely other world. It doesn't matter what's happened in the day; it doesn't matter what you've been involved in; it doesn't matter what tensions or pressures. You play Bach, and somehow everything is right with the world. And one of the other things is, my mother was a cellist, in fact, and you talk about stopping playing – she simply couldn't understand it, because in our family, I'm now the first generation since forever who is not a practicing musician. And so, I let her down. She could never comprehend this. But at 90, she made her last recording of the Bach Cello Suites. And so it's also in memory of her as well as what Bach has meant in my life.
Kaplan The Third Movement of Bach's Suite No. 3 for Solo Cello, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, a fellow cellist as well as a fellow Carnegie board member, of my guest today on"Mad About Music," the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. All right, now you've competed your first season at Carnegie and will soon open your second on October 4th, I believe. Of course, your influence on the new season has to be smaller than in future seasons because Carnegie plans its programs many years in advance. But there has been a buzz around town about the many bold initiatives you've talked about. So tell us, what are some of your new ideas for Carnegie to the extent you can talk about them.
Gillinson Well, Gil, needless to say, there's a lot of things I can't talk about because we need to wait until the announcements and until we've completed the development of our programs. One of the things I found the most fascinating challenge about coming in to Carnegie Hall is inheriting this absolute gem. It's the most wonderful place in the world. What happens here is really extraordinary. And the challenge is, how do you really explore what is new, but build on the roots and the heritage that is so important? And so, the only way I felt I could come in – because after all, from day one I came in, everybody in the organization knew more than I did. So how do you lead an organization where you know less than anybody else? And so, the only way I could approach it was to talk to everybody on the basis of saying,"How do we make everything we do more extraordinary and how do we reach more people with everything we do, be it through dissemination of performance or through education programs?"
Kaplan Well, one idea you have announced already and I think would be interesting to discuss is, for the first time Carnegie Hall will have an orchestra in residence, the Berlin Philharmonic. Tell us about that idea.
Gillinson I think it's a fantastic idea, and it started long before I arrived, in fact. But the Berlin Philharmonic will come in the Fall of 2007. They will undertake three major concerts with Sir Simon Rattle. But in addition, what we're looking at is their protégés, who are the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra, which is an extraordinary project created in Venezuela, which is now from a place where there was relatively little classical music, has now developed so many phenomenal young players. The Venezuelan Youth Orchestra will come here. They will perform with Simon Rattle as well as their own conductor. The Berlin Philharmonic will take part in our schools and community programs, working as ensembles. They'll also perform at Carnegie Hall in various ensembles. And in addition, we're mounting a huge education project which will involve kids who have never been involved in this sort of thing before being choreographed to dance for Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. And we'll be putting this on at a wonderful old church up on the north side of Manhattan, and we'll be doing two performances, and obviously it will be for the kids, but it will also be very much for their parents and families in all those communities, but part of the notion is that we take Carnegie Hall and education out into communities who would never, ever have had access to this before.
Kaplan That's a fascinating new development. But beyond these kind of new initiatives, Carnegie Hall is still primarily known for the star orchestras and star soloists who come to perform there. Carnegie is often praised but also is sometimes criticized for those programs. But how much influence do you, Carnegie, really have in shaping the music that visiting orchestras play?
Gillinson Well, of course, you're right – one of the things we can't do is dictate, nor should we, to any orchestra what it does, or any performer in a major way. But the big thing we're finding is, when we start exploring ideas – and you've got to talk far enough in advance, that's one of the key things, if you're talking three, four years in advance and people haven't already developed their plans – if you talk to them about wanting to explore big ideas, big projects, big festivals with them and start exploring those ideas jointly, then we're finding people are really responsive and are really interested in developing bigger projects with us. They can then relate to other things that we're doing in the Hall. So, it's very much about timelines and it's very much about engaging people as partners in the artistic thinking.
Kaplan Let's turn back to your music, and from your list of selections I can already detect at least two themes. One, of course, the cello, we already heard. And the other is music performed by some conductors with whom you had a particularly close relationship over the years. But before we come to those particular conductors, let's talk about the relationship between the orchestra and the conductor, because you have seen it from the musician's point of view. And we always hear about the difficult relationships, the hostility, and the relationships that don't work out. What do conductors do that cause that to happen?
Gillinson I think relationships between conductors and orchestras have changed unbelievably over the years. When one looks back and you hear the stories of the past, it all used to be about confrontation. It all used to be about a balance of power, and conductors were fighting for the power to be in control, and orchestras were fighting for their own rights and the power to think they were in control. Everything was that sort of confrontation. Nowadays, relationships are utterly different, and they tend to be about how you work together, and how you think about the music. I mean, there's still occasional conductors who try and do things in a dictatorial way, but essentially that's not the way it works anymore. And there's a wonderful story, in fact about Rudolph Bing, where apparently somebody spoke to him at a party and said to him,"George Szell is his own worst enemy." And Rudolph Bing said,"Not whilst I'm alive, he's not." And that tended to personify a little bit how people felt about conductors. It simply isn't that way now.
Kaplan Then let's turn to a real conductor – Leonard Bernstein, who I see is on your list today.
Gillinson Well, I mean for me, I think probably the biggest influence on my entire musical life was Lenny Bernstein. He became president of the LSO. I was involved in bringing him to the LSO as president. We did a lot of projects with him. He was an extraordinary guy because he wanted to know, he wanted to understand, every single thing about everything in life. But he also had that ability – not only to assimilate everything that he received – he had the ability to assimilate it in such a way that it all then related to what he was then creating. So it didn't matter whether you were a nuclear physicist or somebody who worked on the roads. He'd want to know everything about your job, and somehow or other he'd incorporate that into how he understood and saw life. And I suppose the thing that was most moving as well about Lenny is, for me he's the greatest conductor I ever worked with as a player. But in addition, I think he was also a great composer, when one looks at things like West Side Story, which I think is the greatest musical that's ever been written – that he did that; that he was a wonderful pianist. But most moving of all was his commitment to education and everybody's right to education. And I always remember, because we created the Pacific Music Festival in Japan with Lenny and Michael Tilson Thomas in 1990, which was just before Lenny died. And we were both involved in the press conference that launched that, and a Japanese journalist said to him,"Maestro Bernstein, you've done all of these extraordinary things – conducting, composing, piano – what to you is the most important thing? If you could only choose one, which would it be?" And without hesitation, he said,"None of those. It would be education. The one thing I feel that in the end really matters is that you pass on to the next generation and to other people your love and care and understanding of music so that it can be part of their life." And he genuinely meant it.
Kaplan Let's come back to West Side Story for a moment, because I see that that is what you've picked to play as an example of Bernstein. Now, this may be a difficult question for you to comment on, but I ask it anyhow, because so many people have observed that Bernstein's symphonies and his operas are not likely to wind up with the same degree of either popularity or respect as his show music. How do you come out on that?
Gillinson Well, his show music, without a doubt, it was an absolutely astounding talent he had. I think he also wrote some really wonderful pieces in what you might call his more serious genre. You know, things like Chichester Psalms I think is absolutely beautiful. The Age of Anxiety is a wonderful piece. So, he wrote a lot of – Halil as well. He wrote a lot of lovely pieces as well. But the fact is, he did so many things. And my view, when you look at somebody's life, is not what they didn't do, it's what they did.
Kaplan Well then, let's listen to a piece of what he did so brilliantly. An excerpt from the Symphonic Dances of West Side Story.
Kaplan An excerpt from"Mambo," one of the symphonic dances from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, conducted by the composer himself with the New York Philharmonic. A selection of my guest on"Mad About Music," the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. When we return, we'll talk about what's gone wrong and maybe what might go right between the relationship of the consumer of music, the listener, and the creator, the composer. They don't seem to be communicating too well together at the moment.
Kaplan This is Gilbert Kaplan, back with my guest on"Mad About Music," the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. Leonard Bernstein, of course, is best known to New Yorkers as the former music director of the New York Philharmonic, which performs at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Beyond being the home of the New York Philharmonic though, Fisher Hall is also an arch competitor with Carnegie Hall in the battle to attract the world's best orchestras. One of the reasons that Carnegie has usually won those battles, I'm sure you would agree, is its remarkable acoustics. Now as you know, Fisher Hall is about to undertake a significant restoration and the hope there at least is that the acoustics are going to be much, much better. Now, to get an idea about that, I asked Zarin Mehta, the President of the New York Philharmonic, when he appeared on"Mad About Music," for his forecast, and I started it off by asking: If you consider Carnegie Hall to be 100 on a scale of 100 for acoustics, where today would Fisher Hall rank? This is what he had to say.
Mehta Probably around 75 or 80?
Kaplan And what do you think it might get to with the acoustical work you're about to do?
Mehta I think pretty close to 100.
Kaplan Close to 100? Well, exactly how are you going to achieve this? I know you've been experimenting with pushing the stage further into the audience. Is this the key to getting the acoustics you need?
Mehta Well, not only the acoustics, it's getting the ambiance. As I say, from where the conductor stands to the last row, is so long and the first balcony, which are generally the best seats in any auditorium, it is so far away you can hardly see. So, the concept of moving the stage forward has been there for the last five years. We tried it out acoustically a year and a half ago, for a rehearsal. We built the stage 30 feet into the house, and the sound was not only remarkable, but people sitting in the hall in the balconies suddenly felt, wow! this makes sense. We are on top of the music.
Kaplan Now, you have a reputation as someone who does not exaggerate and when you say you think that with the restoration that Fisher Hall might be on the same level of acoustical quality as Carnegie, that's quite amazing to me.
Mehta I said acoustic quality plus the ambiance of comfort and so on, yes.
Kaplan So there you have it, and Zarin Mehta certainly does not have a reputation for off-the-wall exaggeration. What do you think about this? And if it is true, what effect do you think it will have on the competition between Fisher Hall and Carnegie for getting the very best orchestras?
Gillinson One of the things that's interesting about acoustics is, in theory it's a science; in practice, things still can't be judged – you can't tell exactly what's going to happen. I mean, one of the reasons why Carnegie Hall is one of the wonders of the world is, Carnegie Hall was built 115 years ago by an architect who had never built a concert hall in his life, never built a concert hall again in his life, and came up with what was then unquestionably the greatest concert hall in the world, and I think remains the greatest concert hall in the world. Now, in those intervening 115 years, we've had acousticians, we've had every opportunity for people to build equally good concert halls. They haven't. In general terms, in relation to your question as to whether we would see that as a problem or a challenge if Fisher Hall were as good or were really significantly improved – my view is that what matters to Carnegie Hall and what matters to everybody in the arts in New York is that every institution is thriving, and that every institution is doing extraordinary things, and I think that's good for all of us. So, I never feel competition is something one should be worried about, or is something that should be a concern or a negative. I just see all of these things as positives. I'm delighted that there's a lot of work going to be done on Fisher Hall. I hope it will be terrific. And I think that can only be good for New York.
Kaplan Then let's come back to your own music, and your next conductor relationship and another fellow cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich.
Gillinson Well, Slava Rostropovich is one of the most extraordinary people anybody could ever have the privilege of meeting. And when I was a cellist I never even dreamt I'd meet him, let alone be working with him. So, to have ended up in my life spending a lot of time and developing a lot of huge projects with him, particularly around the composers that were so central to his life – Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten – and to have worked with a man who I think probably more than other living artist has had a greater effect on new music being written – he's had over 100 pieces written for him in his life. It's absolutely astonishing – over 100 commissions, most of them for the cello, but a lot of them also as a conductor. And it's just been one of the privileges of my life to work with him, and he's an extraordinary guy. Because not only is he, I personally think, probably the greatest string player who's ever lived – some of those recordings of his are absolutely breathtaking and unbelievable, and you just will never hear anything more beautiful or extraordinary. And at the same time he's got the most unbelievable sense of fun, and so, once for my birthday, my office in London, my administration did a surprise birthday party for me, and this gorilla came prancing in the middle of the birthday celebrations, and somebody handed it a cello to say,"Clive, here, to remind you of your past as a cellist." The gorilla completely messed up the cello playing, and so I showed the gorilla how to play the cello. It played"Happy Birthday" unbelievably, and of course it was Rostropovich. So, I mean he, just in every way, he's the most extraordinary man. Now, the piece I've chosen to play is the Shostakovich First Cello Concerto, which obviously was written for him, and where you just hear the sheer beauty and wonder of his playing.
Kaplan An excerpt from the Second Movement of the First Cello Concerto of Shostakovich. The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, with soloist Mstislav Rostropovich. Music selected by my guest on"Mad About Music" today, the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson, highlighting his 30-year relationship with the legendary cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich. Now, Shostakovich is a modern composer, extremely and increasing popular. But let's talk about real contemporary music. You mentioned Carnegie's commitment to education, which of course includes commissioning new work, but it doesn't have an audience that will always embrace this music. The audience for contemporary music is very small, and people who discuss this problem often talk about the need to educate the public. Is that your view, or are you willing to admit that at least for many composers, perhaps the public might be right?
Gillinson I think one of the things that's been interesting about music through, I suppose the second half, but even earlier in the 20th century, is a lot of composers genuinely seemed to be writing more for each other and to impress each other than they were to actually communicate with the public. Music got unbelievably complex; it got really, really difficult. If you speak to most musicians, you will find that a lot of music written in the second half of the 20th century is music they don't particularly enjoy. And so, I think what is happening is, I think there's perhaps over the last 10 years there's begun to be a real sea change in people's view of new music, and that is particularly of the composers and the understanding that it's no good if you write a piece and people have got to listen to it 20 times to be able to actually get something out of it and understand something. So I think there's a genuine movement towards thinking in terms of languages that are more comprehensible, because otherwise you get into the areas – it's like somebody going to a play and listening to a play in a totally foreign language, and expecting them to enjoy it. So, I think there's a lot that's been the problem in terms of the communicators, the writers. And there's also been a lot, because a lot of performing organizations have become more and more conservative, and so instead of trying to help to develop the part that new music plays in music in general, they've tended to run away from it. So, I think one of the great things about Carnegie Hall is this real commitment to new music, and I think it's absolutely vital we should have that.
Kaplan Now, another phenomenon in classical music world, which is a real challenge for you, is a genuine shortage of stars – especially conductors. There seems to be a general consensus that in earlier times there were simply more of them. Do you have a theory about this? Why is this true?
Gillinson Well, there's still a lot of stars who will sell out the house. There's no question about that. But conductors, there are relatively few, and I know we tend to truncate history, and one always thinks there were more at any given time just because we'll look at a period and it all gets concertinaed. But I think the reality is, when you look at how many great orchestras there are around the world looking for music directors, and how that is genuinely a challenge and really difficult now .
Kaplan What is your theory about that? Why have conductors not reached that level that earlier generations did?
Gillinson I haven't got a theory. I think there's cycles in everything. There's times when there were not many great violinists. There's times when there was an unbelievable number of great violinists. I don't know whether it's about role models. I genuinely don't know what it is.
Kaplan Then let's turn to a conductor I know you do admire. Maybe you would put him in this category of one of the greatest. You certainly had a close relationship with him at the London Symphony Orchestra, Colin Davis.
Gillinson Yes. Well, I genuinely would put Colin Davis in the category of the really great conductors of the world, and he's been a wonderful person to work with, and it was a real partnership, and I think when you were asking earlier about the relationship with conductors, Colin is somebody who totally works on the basis of relationships. You talk everything through. You work together. There's never a confrontational aspect to any single thing that he does. And he adores music. Every single thing he does is about the adoration of music. And I remember him once saying to me as well – he's a very humble bloke, and one of the things he said to me is,"I'm so glad I wasn't incredibly talented, because it means I've had to go on working really hard all my life." And there's a grain of something so important there, which is that all the greatest artists are the people who are never satisfied with what they do and will go on testing and challenging themselves till the day they die, and Colin absolutely personifies that. He's just coming up to the age of 80 now, and he's still exploring new worlds. He's still demanding more of himself and the music he loves. And so, I think one of the things that were so special for me is, we did a huge Berlioz cycle in London with him, which then culminated with The Trojans, which is this colossal opera which is very rare to put on. It's such an expensive project. And it's really wonderful in concert performance. And it was one of the most memorable things we ever did with him.
Kaplan An excerpt from"The Royal Hunt" and"Storm" from Berlioz's The Trojans, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Sir Colin Davis. A selection of my guest on"Mad About Music," the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson, who is also the godfather of this recording. The first, I believe, on London Symphony Orchestra's own label, called"LSO Live." Now, when you were running the London Symphony Orchestra, I believe you were the first to create your own label, and in doing so you were acknowledging that the record business had changed, that orchestras no longer could be priced at a way record companies would pay, and therefore orchestras were being closed out of the record market. And you made what I regard as a rather bold and complete U-turn in what the idea of a recording would be, namely to promote what the orchestra was doing, and not become a profit center. So, talk about that, and also talk about how you see the record business today.
Gillinson Well, one of the interesting things about classical music, in the broadest sense, as opposed to pop music is, pop music is essentially selling new music. The bulk of what classical symphony orchestras are selling is music that's existed for a long, long time, and so therefore it's been recorded many, many times. So it's not a question really that the market is disappearing and people aren't buying recordings. The issue is that there are more and more recordings of the same pieces, and so therefore every single individual recording is competing in a more and more cluttered marketplace. So, I felt this was something that was bound to happen many years before we created the label, and so I started talking to the orchestra at that time about the fact that we would have to find a way of disseminating our recordings, or our music, because it was without a doubt going to come a time when the recording companies would be stopping to record. So, it took me about four years to prepare the ground for the players and the artists to accept the notion that one recorded without payment.
Kaplan Well, it was a wild idea at the time, and now so many other orchestras have followed. But speaking of"wild," we now come to that part of the show we call the"Wildcard," where as a listener, I think you know that you can pick music from any genre – it doesn't have to be classical or opera – in fact, it shouldn't be. So, what did you bring us today?
Gillinson Well, I brought you American Pie, Don McLean's recording. And the reason is, another thread – and I think frankly the most important thread of everything that I'm looking at today is family. And in fact, my sister introduced me to Don McLean. She gave me this recording. It was the first thing I heard of his music and I absolutely adored it. She worshipped him and his music. And in fact, she died in her 20s, and this still for me so much personifies everything about her, and it's a recording that really matters in terms of the things that are absolutely fundamental to my life.
Kaplan An excerpt from American Pie, sung by Don McLean, the"Wildcard" selection of my guest on"Mad About Music" today, the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. When we return, we'll talk about how Clive Gillinson has adjusted to his new home in New York.
Kaplan This is Gilbert Kaplan, with my guest on"Mad About Music," the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. Well, we've talked about composers, we've talked about conductors. So, let's talk a little bit about you.
With your job, you're probably listening to more music than just about anyone in New York. But do you ever have time to put music on when you're home, and just listen? Not music you're interested in professionally? And if you do, what might you be throwing on the machine these days?
Gillinson Lots of different things. I mean, I listen to a lot of classical music, still. I need to listen to a lot of artists, so there's a…
Kaplan No, I'm talking about just for fun, for listening.
Gillinson For fun. Well, Katie Melua. It might be Don McLean. It will be a lot of classical music as well, for enjoyment, too. Schubert chamber music, Mozart. Sibelius. There's a lot, there's a huge number of things that I love listening to. I listen to a lot of Lenny Bernstein's music as well.
Kaplan Now, those who have observed you working say you're the classic 24-hour, 7-day-a-week executive at the moment. Have you had a chance to get to know New York at all?
Gillinson Well, I've always loved New York, and I've spent a lot of time here because I used to bring the London Symphony Orchestra here every year. But yes, I've spent time. I've been to the Natural History Museum, I've been to MOMA, I've been to the Met. I've been to lots of places.
Kaplan Well, let's segue away from museums and return to your list of musical selections where I see your next choice has a Carnegie Hall connection – to the legendary violinist and the late president of the hall, Isaac Stern.
Gillinson I think firstly the contribution Isaac made to world music, in fact, through saving Carnegie Hall, was absolutely extraordinary and unique, and it would have been the most unbelievable loss to lose Carnegie Hall. And I think probably without him, we would have lost it. He was also a great artist, and I worked with him when I was still playing in the London Symphony Orchestra. He played with the orchestra many times, so I actually worked with him as an artist. But to be honest, the recording of the Brahms Double, which is one of the ones I've chosen – I think by far the finest recording in the catalogue is the one with him – with Isaac Stern and Leonard Rose. It's absolutely extraordinary. And they really work as musical partners, because very often with this music, which is a concerto but it's also chamber music – people will come together and they'll just play the performance. But these two, you could feel they were real soul mates artistically. And for me, the reason I've chosen it is because, in fact, I've played this as a soloist when I was at the Royal Academy of Music. And it was, I think without question, the most enjoyable musical experience I had personally, ever, and for the very reason that it was that combination of concerto and chamber music, where you're really working with somebody to create music. And Isaac is wonderful on this.
Kaplan An excerpt from the Second Movement of the Brahms Concerto for Violin and Cello, the"Double Concerto," performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Eugene Ormandy, with Leonard Rose on the cello and Isaac Stern on the violin. A work chosen by my guest on"Mad About Music" today, the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson, who has his own memory of playing this work when he was in the conservatory. He said it was the greatest musical experience of his life. Now, I see your final selection is Mozart's Clarinet Concerto – the combination of Mozart and the clarinet reminds me of Alan Alda's selection when he appeared on the show, he picked the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. He had two powerful reasons for selecting it. First was, it was the work his wife was playing – plays the clarinet – when he first met her, and fell in love. And the second, he included it in the final episode of M*A*S*H, the popular television series. And The New York Times speculated as a result of that, more people heard the Clarinet Quintet that night than maybe had heard it up to that point since Mozart wrote it. So, what is your reason for selecting the Clarinet Concerto?
Gillinson It's multiple reasons, really. What I've tried to do is find things that have real family resonances for me, so the Bach suite was about my mother, who was a cellist. Don McLean for my sister. And the Mozart Clarinet Concerto – in fact, both our daughters are clarinetists, and our oldest has played – I've heard her play this piece. And the additional thing is that, in fact, when Penny and I got married, this was the piece that we had played at the time we got married. So it draws all the threads together in our family. Unfortunately, I've left my son out in that, but my son wanted to play the percussion, and so that tended to happen down the other end of the garden. And so, I'm afraid there's no way we can really bring the percussion to the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, but it is really to reflect all the relationships in our family, and whatever you say about me being a 24-hour-a-day worker, I mean, the fact of the matter is, my family are the root of everything for me.
Kaplan The concluding moments of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Sir Neville Marriner with his son Andrew on the clarinet. The final selection of my guest on"Mad About Music," the executive director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. Now, when we began this show, I asked you if you regretted giving up the cello to become an orchestra manager. And then during the show, we talked about your relationship with the legendary cellist Rostropovich. Now he has just recently given up playing the cello as a solo instrument, but long ago he had migrated to becoming a conductor. So my final question for you is this: Having performed under so many conductors yourself, I wonder if you have ever considered trying to become one yourself.
Gillinson The answer to that is really simple. No. It's funny. There are some things you know you want to do, and there are some things you know you don't want to do. And I may be wrong, but I have a pretty clear view that I wouldn't have any talent for that, and so, mind you, I hadn't thought of becoming an orchestra manager either until it happened by mistake. But the answer is, it's not really something that has appealed to me. I'm not sure why, for whatever reason, but I suppose also, everything is about your life at any particular time, and when the crossroads have come, you choose a crossroad and you choose which way you're going to go. And it's never been something I've felt an urge to do, as though – I've never felt it's part of what I am. So, I'm really happy to leave that to other people.
Kaplan Well, in any case, you are in a way a maestro – as I said at the beginning of the show,"the maestro of Carnegie Hall," and we all eagerly await the results of what your baton will produce there. As we say goodbye to Clive Gillinson, don't forget to mark your calendar for Sunday, October 1st, at 8:00 PM. That's one hour earlier than we normally start, for a spectacular two-hour special celebrating our fifth anniversary. We will be revisiting the most memorable moments and appearances of about 30 of our fascinating guests. Until then, this is Gilbert Kaplan for"Mad About Music."
Alan Gilbert, Pierre Boulez and Jeffrey Kahane lead featured recordings of several concertos and a Rimsky-Korsakov suite. Jul 21, 2018