The Egos of Conductors

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Igor Stravinsky and his over-sized ego(Photo: Robert Regassi)
Igor Stravinsky and his over-sized ego(Photo: Robert Regassi)

Boyce Lancaster talks with Maestro Albert-George Schram, former staff conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, about conductor’s egos. Schram tells the tale of Igor Stravinsky conducting his own score, and how his ego led him astray.

[audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2006/ConductorsEgos.mp3"]

Highlights From This Interview:

Albert-George: “The Symphony of Psalms (1930) by Stravinsky had just come out, and Rafael Kubelík studied the score, and he studied it. And he was going to perform it. And out came a recording of Igor Stravinsky himself conducting the world premiere. So Kubelik went out and got the recording of Stravinsky’s version of his work. Turns out that the recording was not lining up with the score.”

Albert-George: “So (Kubelik) had the occasion to talk to Igor Stravinsky before his performance. And Kubelik went up to maestro Stravinsky and said, ‘Now, maestro, I’ve got the score here, and I’ve got the recording, and the tempos don’t line up. Which is correct?’ And Stravinsky immediately said, ‘The recording.’ He lied!”

Albert-George: “Igor Stravinsky could not handle anybody challenging his conducting skills. His ego was a bit too large to see that he screwed up on his own tempo markings.”

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