How conductors sounded (3): Dmitri Mitropoulos in rehearsal

How conductors sounded (3): Dmitri Mitropoulos in rehearsal


norman lebrecht

November 30, 2013

Congenial, respectful, unfailingly encouraging.



  • Mitropoulos–just the greatest. The man was a stupendous musician and, here, it is fun to watch him get jaded players to do what he wants.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Nothing “jaded” about the players here. They are very alert and on top of things, and that in a piece which is rarely performed. It doesn’t take Mitropoulos much to get what he wants either. He asks, and he receives.

    • Simon Styles says:

      Jaded players?? Nonsense- they sound on top of their and maybe even a little ahead of it if anything to me!!!

  • Rgiarola says:

    I’m not sure, but even at the end and already dressing black tie, seems that there aren’t audience at the hall. The claps look like fake and for film purpose. However it is a really nice movie and I’ve collect any Mitropoulos recording and specially broadcasting.

    One question. Dress rehearsal during the 50’s means really formal wear?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I find the music making excellent- that can’t be faked. Nevertheless:

    I, too, find aspects of the film very confusing.

    – Which auditorium is that? The background reminds me of Carnegie Hall, but the stage does not.

    – The applause sounds totally fake.

    – Given that the setting and the applause are probably faked, I am not even sure whether the rehearsal is a bit acted out.

  • Steven Honigberg says:

    The shots of the first cellist is of Leonard Rose – the most famous American born cellist (1918-1984). The orchestra in the NY Philharmonic in Liszt’s “A Faust Symphony” performed December 8 & 9, 1949 in Carnegie Hall. His players appreciated – and even loved – his gentle manners. In an age when ego-driven directors ranted, raged, and were generally insulting, Mitropoulos was atypical. The downside, however, induced disrespect and a malaise that left Rose seething. “Because he was very nice, they (the orchestra) tended to crucify him … That orchestra had to be bullied. They had to feel fear.” (page 122 Leonard Rose: America’s Golden Age and Its First Cellist)

  • squirrel says:

    It’s great to hear Faust Symphony as a repertory piece — maybe it will be again one day!

  • Despite all his good manners that made the players often take advantage of him in NY, Mitropoulos followed his Mission (he was referring to his job as a Mission and himself as missionary – and Mahler as his God) and, neglecting the reactions, continued to program tough/hostile works and especially Mahler (he gave the US premiere of the sixth and chosed the first as his first ever concertas visiting conductor in the USA – with the BSO, that did nothing to help him professionaly, quite the contrary. Of course he was proven right and paved the way to you know who. He showed insistence with Mahler also while in Europe: he took the VPO on tour in Italy in the late 50s including Mahler’s 6th in the concerts. The ticket sales were poor. The VPO management wrote him a letter asking him to throw the symphony out and replace it with an other established one. He denied stating that he knows that Mahler’s language was stange and hostile to the Mediterranean mind, but he has a Mission. And the VPO had to accept Mitropoulos choice finally. This is how “the West was Won” as they say. The 60s were ready to enjoy Mahler easily. The VPO continued to work with him till the end of his life (most of it in Salzburg) and they had plans to etablish even more engagements with him…