'Oh my God, who can make music under coercion?' – composer tells orchestra to stop playing his works
June 29, 2011 by Norman Lebrecht
The long-running calamity at the Brazil Symphony Orchestra took an ugly twist today when the senior composer, Marlos Nobre, found that the OSB had put one of his works on their programme next season. Mr Nobre referred back to a public ban he had proclaimed on the orchestra and its contentious conductor, Roberto Minczuk. Then he let fly, in a letter to the director, which gets personal from the start:
Dear Eleazar de Carvalho Filho,
I confess that I feel myself in a very strange situation, when I write this name that immediately lead
me to evoke my great friend – your father Eleazar de Carvalho,
master of the Brazilian conductors, whose memory I evoke here as an
example. As the conductor of the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra, that
conductor – your father – does not always found flowers and
caresses. The exercise of conducting an orchestra sometimes is a hard,
painful and exhausting task, what your father once confided me, when
we both were professors (he taught conducting and I composition) in
the renowned Yale University, in the USA. But never – and I repeat
-, never the great, the very great Eleazar de Carvalho was carried
away by rancor, hurt and disputes about to summarily dismiss the
musicians of his orchestra. And, you see, even supported by his name
and reputation, his unique and unquestionable authority earned that
time, he probably could do it without major troubles.
When an eventual confrontation in face of his musicians took place,
your father – our Eleazar – the greatest Brazilian conductor of
all time, had the humility, wisdom and prudence to leave with heads
held high and never promote a fratricidal war, a personal vendetta. He
looked farther, not only to his career, but for the survival of a
sacred mark, the label “Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira”. Whether
your father already was great, enormous artistically and humanly, he
then became a giant, a wise, an enlightened person. And from there,
from his departure from the OSB, his masterful career steps to reach
that no conductor yet reached in Brazil, in the United States and in
So, I’m sad – I confess to you, Eleazar Filho –, since, like
Roberto, I knew you when you were still a boy, in your mother’s
arms, the composer Jocy de Oliveira, colleague of mine. I saw you,
Eleazar Filho, to reach, adult, ascend the highest positions in the
financial administration of our country, especially in the BNDES,
justly favoring many musical events, moved by love for music, surely
transmitted by your father, Eleazar, and your mother, Jocy .
Now I see you and Roberto, those boys who I knew in my youth, I see
you both despising the great lesson that should be the example – the
myth of you both – as father and great conductor.
Instead of this consanguinity, Roberto and you, Eleazar Filho,
promote, together, the most impressive breakdown in music that we know
in the history of our country. I don’t understand, I cannot hardly
comprehend how you both – Eleazar and Roberto – cannot see that
you are fomenting one of the most rampages against the institution
itself that was handed to you both to be preserved and carried
forward. There’s a clamant irony when reading in your own name –
Eleazar de Carvalho Filho – the presence of a moral, musical and
artistic heritage that all of us desired to be preserved.
What is more serious in musical environment of Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, Europe, USA, the youngest and the oldest musicians, the
greatest personalities of music in Brazil and other countries are
perplexed in face of a an absolutely inedited fact: you, Roberto and
Eleazar, remain undaunted, ignoring everyone and everything, you both
don’t listen to the voices outside you, and, I ask myself: shall be
you hear the inner voices, the deep voices of your consciousnesses?
Doubtless, the musical Brazil is in grave danger, not only because of
30 or 40 dismissals and the abandonment of their families, the
perplexity of their sons and grandchildren, too. But because of
Brazilian young musicians who cannot, should not be confronted,
discouraged early in their lives. Yes, how do you think, Eleazar and
Roberto, the Brazilian musical youth is reacting to all of this?
We already saw the courageous attitude, the unbelievable burning
behaviour of those OSB Youth Orchestra’s young musicians waking up
to don’t insult you, Roberto, but to deafly and silently protest,
denying to play under pure and explicit coercion.
Oh, my God, who can make music, think about music under coercion,
disenchantment, hopelessness, no matter it is?
Oh, my God, where are we, in which territory, country, culture,
place, cultural desert, exposed to the most depressing situation in
face of international organizations that directly repudiate this sadly
famous “Brazilian case”?
We must not, we don’t want, we cannot be explicitly famous because
of such clamorously negative situation, unfortunately stark, carried
to the point that simply no one can predict its outcome. What is
known, what feels good is that, it is not for anyone else.
And now, a lack of respect (and uniquely personal in this case):
after my public letter to you, Roberto, published everywhere, blogs
and newspapers in Brazil and in the world, the FOSB, without my
authorization, still includes in its season announced now, a music
composed by myself, though I expressly banned it! Yeah, I’m in my
right! So, it seemed to be a regrettable personal affront.
Now, some musicians pressed for reasons do not get me to imagine or
speculate, sold their souls to the devil after they publicly decried
the dismissals and the situation and the current direction of FOSB,
forgetting that they themselves are and will be the executioners of
Therefore, I, Marlos Nobre, request you: do not confuse me with them
– who are deserters from a holy war. Please, at least respect me to
be respected in the minimum of respect that remains throughout this
marathon of errors and unfortunate situation to which is being exposed
the GREAT MUSIC OF BRAZIL.
Rio de Janeiro, June 28th, 2011.
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