Sh*t Conductors Say

January 31, 2012 by Norman Lebrecht


Tick the ones you’ve heard most often – a chillout session with Josh Weilerstein.  You mean you only got paid $40,000 for that concert?

Comments (8)

  1. Josh Weilerstein says:

    Thanks for the plug Norman! I sincerely hope I have never said, or will never say, any of these things…

    Sadly, every word of this has been heard either by myself, or one of my friends.

    Hope you enjoy!

  2. Doug says:

    Would he care to share with us from whom exactly HE heard all that ‘sh*t?’ (presumably from his colleagues and mentors) I know where I have heard it. Just look at the conductor roster on the Opus 3 website in the link.

  3. Francisco Martinez Ramos says:


  4. mary soilex says:

    this ist hillarious! and how! i NEVER laughed as hard , Oh mein Lord, this mann ist a comic?
    He should be on David Lettermann . Gutten comic relief und so needed.

  5. Valentina Lisitsa says:

    Here is some authentic conductors’ lore 🙂
    Eugene Ormandy and his English:

    -Who is sitting in that empty chair?
    -I don’t want to confuse you more than absolutely necessary.
    -Congratulations to each and every one of you for the concert last night in New York and vice versa.
    -I’m conducting slowly because I don’t know the tempo. I conduct faster so you can see my beat.
    -I cannot give it to you, so try to watch me.
    -I was trying to help you, so I was beating wrong.
    -I am thinking it right but beating it wrong.
    -I can conduct better than I count.
    -I guess you thought I was conducting, but I wasn’t.
    -I purposely didn’t do anything, and you were all behind.
    -Even when you are not playing you are holding me back.
    -Don’t ever follow me, because I am difficult.
    -It is not as difficult as I thought it was, but it is harder than it is.
    -The notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.
    -I wrote it the right way, so it was copied the wrong way right. I mean the right way wrong.
    -At every concert I’ve sensed a certain insecurity about the tempo. It’s clearly marked 80 . . . uh, 69.
    -Watch me closely. Only one can spoil it.
    -Someone came in too sooner.
    -Start beforty-two.
    -Start three bars before something.
    -Start at B. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.
    -Did you play? It sounded very good.
    -Intonation is important, especially when it’s cold.
    -Beauty is less important than quality.
    -If you don’t have it in your part, leave it out, because there’s enough missing already.
    -Percussion a little louder. (“We don’t have anything.”) That’s right. Play it louder.
    -More basses, because you are so far away.
    -I need one more bass less.
    -There are no woodwinds at number 6. (“We’re at number 15.”) I know. That is why.
    -(To a tubist): Long note? “Yes.” Make it seem short.
    -Brass, stay down all summer.
    -Don’t play louder, just give more.
    -Accelerando means in tempo. Don’t rush.
    -I don’t want to repeat this a hundred times. When you see crescendo, it means p.
    -The tempo remains pp.
    -It’s difficult to remember when you haven’t played it before.
    -We can’t hear the balance because the soloist is still on the airplane.
    -Please follow me because I have to follow him, and he isn’t here.
    -Without him here, it is impossible to know how fast he will play it, approximately.
    -With us tonight is William Warfield, who is with us tonight.
    -He is a wonderful man, and so is his wife.
    -Bizet was a very young man when he wrote this symphony, so play it soft.
    -Mahler wrote it as the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. I mean the fourth movement of his First Symphony. We play it third.
    -The trumpet solo will be played by our solo trumpet player. His name is Blumine, which has something to do with flowers.
    -(On the death of David Oistrakh) I told him he’d have a heart attack a year ago, but unfortunately he lived a year longer.
    -Serkin was so sick he almost died for three days.
    -(On William Kapell’s death) Death is a terrible thing. I don’t believe in it myself.
    -This is a very democratic organization, so let’s take a vote. All those who disagree with me, raise their hands.
    -It’s all very well to have principles, but when it comes to money, you have to be flexible.
    -Thank you for your cooperation, and vice versa.
    -I mean what I meant.
    -I never say what I mean, but I always manage to say something similar.
    -I don’t mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to.
    -Relax, don’t be nervous. My God, it’s the Philadelphia Orchestra.

    1. wonderful! where’s this from, Val?

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