That’s the headline on a Classical Music advertisement for Malko, the upcoming Copenhagen competition for young conductors.
Don’t ask what attracted Mr Maazel to Denmark. Business as usual, is my guess.
But I’m not sure that, for all his many qualities, I’d count Lorin Maazel as the ideal role model for an aspiring music director. Maazel, 81, has been head of many big orchestras and opera houses in his time – Deutsche Oper Berlin, Cleveland, Vienna State Opera, Pittsburgh, Bavarian Radio, New York Philharmonic, Valenica Orchestra, Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic (from 2012) – too many, some feel, to leave a strong personal imprint on the profession. He has enjoyed immense success without embedding a visible creative legacy. His hard-drive was ego.
But that’s just my interpretation. Here’s what the maestro himself has to say on the Malko website:
By Lorin Maazel
“Competitions, like every undertaking designed to identify tomorrow’s leaders, are only worth the effort expended if they are well-organized, honest and produce winners who show the requisite potential for an enduring success in their chosen field.
When asked to be President of the 2012 Malko Conductor’s Competition Jury, I accepted only after becoming convinced that the competition indeed meets the above criteria.
What defines a conductor as opposed to a baton-wielder escapes definition but all of us know a real conductor when we see one. To spot one in the making, however, is not that straight forward? I have joined with the administration of the Malko Competition in selecting jury members who have the experience and instinct to perceive that ephemeral, elusive conducting talent that is a pre-requisite for a worthy career.
Everyone wants to conduct…not many can. Today, excellent orchestras abound but there are woefully few truly great conductors. Eighty years ago, the situation was just the reverse…scores of brilliant conductors, few really top-grade orchestras. In the 1930s there were Toscanini, Furtwaengler, Walter, De Sabata, Reiner, Monteux, Klemperer… to mention but a few… who set stunning standards of excellence that endure to this day.
Our task at the Malko Competition will be to ferret out true young talents as opposed to the clever hacks so many hopefuls eventually become. We will eschew the slick in favour of the genuine. But let there be no mistake. Simply loving music, being devoted to it and being well-versed in its technicalities, will not suffice. We will be on the lookout for the conducting instinct that sets aside the well-meaning music-loving baton-waver from the true conductor who… with a look, a gesture, a thrust… makes music come alive from the printed page, presides over a performance that becomes a vibrant, palpable artistic experience no one in the orchestra or attending public can ever forget.”