Andris Nelsons: Without music, I wouldn’t be able to breathe

Andris Nelsons: Without music, I wouldn’t be able to breathe


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2018

Other events this week in the life of the Boston Symphony maestro.


  • anon says:

    Without breathing, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy music.

  • pianofortissimo says:

    Ondine’s curse?

  • Gary says:

    Glad to see them both fulfilled and happy. Too bad that our culture makes them the only people who matter. They indeed are super winners, and it’s the duty of the rest of us to enjoy their playing and watch their interviews.

  • Sue says:

    I enjoy hearing the thoughts of these two rather extraordinary people. Thanks for posting.

  • Robert says:

    Five years into his directorship in Boston, the orchestra continues to be artistically adrift. What is his vision for the orchestra? Or the Gewandhaus? Play the classics till the audience dies? To most musicians the audience is oxygen.

    • Sue says:

      You’d certainly be forgiven to thinking this isn’t the case, hearing this interview. Why must everybody have a ‘vision’ these days – a government, institution, organization? We never had ‘visions’ up until the new millennium. I suspect this derives from propaganda and I also suspect it’s the orchestral administration to formulate a policy (the old word for “vision”) and to then convey that to the artistic director, or in consultation. My only concern for Nelsons is his burgeoning weight; not good in so young a man!!

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I don’t know what vision Nelsons has, and am personally not convinced by his artistry, but playing the classics to death is not the issue. The majority of the BSO programs include at least one work from the last 100 years. I am not sure this is a good thing, because many of those who come for the recent music don’t care for the classics and vice versa.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Robert, do you live in Boston and hear the BSO regularly? I question that.

      I do. And have been a BSO subscriber for nearly 30 years. The BSO is currently in a period of outstanding and sustained artistic success. Routinely, concert performances are at a standard that I’ve never experienced before ANYWHERE. I lived in Philadelphia during the Muti years and heard them/him regularly. No comparison. I’ve heard many other orchestras in their home turf fairly often.

      Artistically adrift–are you joking? We’re hearing a lot of repertoire in Boston because of Nelsons that has been rarely or never programmed before. A lot of us find it quite enjoyable, and when I look at the audiences in Symphony Hall, I see far greater diversity than ever before–age, race, etc. 15 years ago, the average age in the audience was much older than it is now. Whatever they’re doing seems to be working.

      Perhaps the fact that less of the music being programmed was composed in the last 50 years might have something to do with the fact that the lack of quality of current composition is evident, as if too many composers have nothing to say and no convincing way of saying it that justifies taking up space in a repertory that is crowded with masterpieces. Yes, let’s keep hearing new music, but let’s not elevate it to a pedestal that it doesn’t belong on. I’m open up to hearing new music written on the level of creativity and inspiration that does justice to great 20th century composers such as Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, etc. But who are today’s versions of such quality composers? I struggle to get past even two names: Arvo Part, and Philip Glass. And of the many new works I’ve heard over the last 20 years, I can think of only two that I would like to hear again: John Harbison’s Requiem, and Michael Gandolfi’s Ascending Light. And I can think of many that I hope to never heard again, and by some strange coincidence, more than a few of them were written by some guy named Carter.

      • Brad Reed says:

        I understand that Nelsons’ style and musicianship aren’t for everyone, however he has absolutely been progressive with his programming. I’ve seen the BSO perform multiple modern masterpieces in recent years — Gubaidulina’s “Triple Concerto,” Abrahamsen’s “let me tell you,” and Ades’ “Totentanz.” Right now, I’m listening to Nelsons conduct a performance of Jorg Widmann’s ‘Partita,’ which is a major composition in its own right.

      • Brad Reed says:

        And incidentally, there are a lot of quality composers these days. I like Part and Glass, but even better are John Adams, Sofia Gubaidulina, Thomas Ades, James MacMillan, and Esa Pekka Salonen. Osvaldo Golijov is wonderful as well, though he seems to have had writer’s block for the past decade or so, sadly…

  • Ingeborg Baumann says:

    I like Andris Nelsons words. When he is on work, he lives music. To see him and to listen to him and orchestra helps me to feel music, what is wonderful.

  • Thomas Müthing says:

    Conflicted about this man.

    Observed him destroy Dvorák’s unpretentious 8th Symphony at the Proms a few years back.