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Absolutely on Music - conversations with Ozawa

I started reading this book last night - light reading but entertaining. It starts with a discussion of two recordings of Gould playing Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto, one conducted by Karajan, the other by Bernstein, and Ozawa's observations on the working styles of the two men - he was a student of both - were very interesting. It might not surprise you that Lenny was much less disciplined in rehearsal than Karajan.

Anyway, Ozawa made the claim that he was really from the German school, both in choice of repertoire and style of playing, and that he only started doing French things in Boston, and made the comment that he did his first performance of Berlioz' Requiem there. This made me think a bit - I could have sworn that Ozawa did the big Berlioz works here in San Francisco before taking them to Boston. Ozawa became music director in Boston in 1973, when he was already music director in SF. He held both posts for a time, and then resigned from SF. I was in the Bay Area until 1972, and while I came back a few times, it was rare that I attended concerts when I did so (I moved back in 1980, by the way). Yet I heard the SFS do the Requiem, conducted by Ozawa, and it must have been during the 71/72 season. A great experience, too. Could Ozawa have done it in Boston before then?

Actually, it is ironic that Boston and Ozawa never really bonded, from what I understand, even though he was there a very long time. He was adored in San Francisco, like a rock star - flowers would be thrown to him after concerts, and his name was everywhere. And it seemed like it was a mutual feeling, as Ozawa mentioned during an interview that his goal in SF was to exceed Ormandy's tenure in Philly....guess he was able to do that, but in Boston, not SF. When the news of his appointment in Boston became public, it was like a stab in the collective heart of concert-goers here. I think the view was that if he left, it would be to succeed Karajan, not go to another American orchestra. Ozawa even said that if he no longer had a full-time job in SF, he loved the city so much he would retain an apartment here just to have a place to study....yet he rarely returned after he left, unlike Blomstedt, who comes every year.

In a way, it is hard to blame him for seeing Boston as an advance over SF - at the time, the SFS was almost a part time orchestra, and had no dedicated hall. Now, of course, with its budget, hall and recording schedule it would be considered a plum appointment.

If you have reached this far.....how many of Ozawa's records are part of your core collection?

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Topic - Absolutely on Music - conversations with Ozawa - TGR 15:38:15 03/08/17 (16)


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