Who would you bring back for a day?

Who would you bring back for a day?


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2014

Running through the files of musicians we have lost this year, we fell to wondering which giants from the past would we bring back from the other side, if such encounters were permitted.

Would it be…





furtwangler strauss

Or (our choice)?


Your call?


  • Mark Stratford says:

    For me, one of the greatest failings of the recording industry is that they never recorded Rachmaninoff playing concertos by composers other than himself. Apparently he played Liszt 1st, Tchaic 1st and several Beethoven concertos – but we can only guess how these all sounded.

    I’d vote for Rach to come back. At least there are a lot of Nathan Milstein recordings.

  • Prewartreasure says:

    Anton Seidl – the incomparable conductor of Wagner music (by repute) that no one on the planet has ever seen or heard!

  • pochetta says:

    Philippe Hirshhorn, immediately. And make him to record!

  • Milton Ribeiro says:

    Ferenc Fricsay

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    Sviatoslav Richter.

  • musician says:

    The young Yo Yo Ma.

  • Ed says:

    Johannes Brahms and/or Arthur Rubinstein.

  • Ed says:

    Johannes Brahms and/or Arthur Rubinstein

  • Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

    Johannes Brahms AND Arthur Rubinstein!
    Annabelle Rubinstein

  • Milka says:


  • Ron Davis says:

    Glenn Gould.

    Art Tatum.

  • Tatty Theo says:

    William Pleeth and Margaret Good. 12 January 1938, their debut at Wigmore Hall.

  • stanley cohen says:

    Kathleen Ferrier

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    The pianists – Vladimir Horowitz, Dinu Lipatti, Benno Moiseiwitsch & Earl Wild.Violinist- Josef Hassid because he was a one off genius who died tragically young.Conductors- Carlos Kleiber because he gave us so little of his talent and the recently departed Claudio Abbado because he had so much more to give

  • Brian says:

    This one is easy. Either Farinelli or Senesino. Who wouldn’t want to hear what the great castrati were really like?

  • Gonout Backson says:

    Mozart. Verdi. Wagner. To show them some of the recent productions of their operas.

  • Greg says:

    Would love to hear Mahler conduct his own works.

  • Mark says:

    Vladimir Horowitz, Jascha Heifetz, Mischa Elman, Ignaz Friedman, Josef Lhevinne, Emmanuel Feuermann (and many, many others …)

  • WetToast says:


  • Ian says:

    John Fletcher – The greatest tuba player. LSO/Philip Jones Brass. As musical as ANY world renowned pianist or violin player.

  • Nutters says:

    Ginette Neveu playing Chausson Poeme and Ludwig Suthaus as Tristan.

  • Milka says:

    Celibidache by all means …he knew
    more about the art of music than all
    mentioned .

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      No, he didn’t. But he was great at making naive people believe that. He was a very good conductor with a very acute sense of hearing and excellent rehearsal skills, his concerts were fascinating to listen to if musically rather one-dimensional, just focused on celebrating his sound, but he wasn’t the kind of second coming that many simple-minded people think he was because of his endless babbling about Buddhism and how great and enlightened he was.

  • harold braun says:

    Toscanini,Bernstein,Stokowski,Koussevitzky,Beecham,Reiner,Szell,Munch,Ormandy,Monteux,Horowitz,Heifetz,Piatigorsky,Strawinsky,Copland,Barber,and all Symphony Players of great Us and UK Orchestras of the past.In short.All the heroes of my youth!Oh,I forgot Jack Benny and Victor Borge!

  • Martin Haub says:

    Yes, Mahler. Put him in front of the Chicago Symphony and records symphonies 2, 5, 6, 9, and Das Lied. Maybe then we’d have a definitive answer on the order of movements in the 6th, a better idea of what he wanted in 9 and Das Lied. And if there’s time left over, finish the 10th!

  • Robert Levin says:

    William Kapell, Dinu Lipatti, Nathan Milstein & Carlo Bergonzi.

  • Anonymous says:

    Celibidache! But probably he would require more than just one day of rehearsal time..

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    Sergiu Celibidache
    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Fritz Busch
    Claudio Arrau
    Guido Cantelli
    Thomas Schippers

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    And I forgot:

    Dino Ciani

  • Ulex Xane says:

    Jean de Reszke, Giovanni Rubini and Sims Reeves in their prime, so that we could hear what their voices were really like 🙂

  • Ulex Xane says:

    …and Bruckner, so he could complete his sublime 9th.

  • sandy says:


  • Geoff Radnor: says:

    It is those that left us too early who I would like to see come again to enthrall us even more with their music. A few have been mentioned already, Dinu Lipatti, Kathleen Ferrier, Josef Hassid and Guido Cantelli. There are more that died too young.

  • Patrick says:

    Guido Cantelli, Istvan Kertesz and Dennis Brain.

  • Patrick says:

    Oh, yeah…and Thomas Schippers.

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    I would like to meet the man that composed the end of the first movement of the Bruckner Seventh Symphony. The biographies are worthless for understanding the heart and mind of the great man who composed it.

  • Christopher Stager says:

    Jose Iturbi

  • Christopher Stager says:

    Oh, and Leopold Stokowski. Who knows what he would have done had he lived longer?

  • Michael Endres says:

    Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Peter Freeman says:

    Any and all of the above plus Rossini, who had such an interesting life, to tell us about it and show us how to make unborn generations laugh.

  • LisaJo Borchers says:

    Clara Schumann

  • Scott Colebank says:

    Tossy Spivakovsky and Efrem Kurtz, how about on the same stage together?

  • Gary says:

    Franz Liszt, most definitely.

  • Nick says:

    I echo the vote of Milton Ribeiro above – Ferenc Fricsay. We can only imagine the further heights he could have achieved had he not died so relatively young in 1963. He would have been 100 this year.

  • Alex says:

    J.S. BACH!
    Would love to hear him talk about his own music and play it too.

  • Dave T says:

    Franz Schubert. Died much too young. Would have liked to hear what he had to say as he entered his more advanced “jazz period’.

  • Dave T says:

    Jean Sibelius. Just to see if he would ever eventually come out of retirement. Could be a long wait.

    • John Drexel says:

      Do you think we could persuade him to finish his Symphony No. 8? And not throw it into the fireplace?

      We’ll also have to bring back Celibidache to conduct the premiere of the Sibelius 8th. But then again, I don’t think I have that much time left in my own life.

      In which case, bring back Barbirolli to conduct it… (The performance would take almost as long, but we’d probably save some time on the rehearsals.)

  • Clarke Bustard says:

    I’d like to hear what the high-romantics, especially Brahms and Tchaikovsky, really meant by all those tempo modifiers. How much less is not so much?

    And I’d love to hear what Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin would do with a modern concert grand. (At least one would confound expectations, I’m sure.)

  • Simon S. says:

    George London (with a fully recovered voice, of course).

  • Ed says:

    I’d definitely include the Busch quartet to the list.

  • Robert Garbolinski says:

    Carlos Kleiber

  • tristan says:

    Carlos Kleiber for sure and Maria Callas – who else???

    • Milka says:

      we already have Florence Foster Jenkins , why would one want Callas ?To link Callas with Carlos Kleiber is
      to lack musical discernment.

  • Ricolas says:

    George Gershwin.

  • Caroline Brown says:

    Furtwangler and Arthur Rubinstein

  • Caroline Brown says:

    and definitely the Busch Quartet!

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:


  • Boring Fileclerk says:

    Milton Babbitt!

  • DESR says:

    It has to be Carlos Kleiber, but only after agreeing a Faustian bargain with him that he must conduct (with no rehearsal) the VPO in another New Year’s Day concert; the Eroica; Mahler 3; Meistersinger; and also agree to give an extended TV interview.

  • Saul Davis says:

    To pick one from each field:
    Wanda Landowska
    Carlos Salzedo
    Victoria de los Angeles
    Leopold Stokowski
    Pablo Casals
    Zino Francescatti
    William Kincaid
    Ricardo Vines
    Gabriel Faure
    Georges Enescu

    This is my short-list of the greatest musicians of the 20th century.

  • John Drexel says:

    Clara Haskil, to play those Mozart piano concertos. With Fricsay, Schuricht, and Cluytens to take turns conducting.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    All that in one day? That would be a bit much to ask even of a workaholic like Mahler was reputed to be. And why the Chicago Symphony? That would be a waste of time. They have no knowledge of the style of and no ensemble culture suited for his music, they just play everything like “Star Wars”.

  • Robert Levin says:

    Nathan Milstein
    Jascha Heifetz
    Joseph Hassid
    William Kapell
    Dinu Lipatti
    Carlo Bergonzi
    Fritz Wunderlich
    Renata Tebaldi
    Bidu Sayão

  • Robert Levin says:

    Carlos Kleiber
    Klaus Tennstedt
    Thomas Schippers
    Guido Cantelli
    Fritz Reiner
    Carlo Maria Giulini

  • Fritz Curzon says:

    wouldn’t dream of showing any parental (voice or piano) bias…, but it would be nice.