How Lahav Shani conquered the Israel Philharmonic

Amir Mandel in Haaretz has the background story of a young man’s vertical ascent.

He follows a simple rule:  ‘If it sounds good, don’t interfere. My responsibility as a conductor is to ensure that the orchestra sounds good according to my understanding, not to impose myself. I have to intervene in places where I want to emphasize something, change something, go deeper into certain details in the musical text that perhaps we didn’t dive into, or perhaps to reexamine something we’ve grown accustomed to out of habit and that’s worth reconsidering.’

His childhood teacher says: ‘He demonstrated unequivocal musical talent, but he was also an individualist and not terribly diligent, and because he played everything easily from hearing it, he found learning the notes fatiguing. He was incredibly unexcitable and in fact not ambitious. Success, failure – nothing disturbed his calm.’

Read on here.

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  • Is there a way of accessing the referenced newspaper article in full, without the complete truncation imposed on it by the paper, for non-subscribers? Thank you,

  • It is paradoxical that classical music accepts as child prodigies anyone young with the technical gifts to execute some defined task, and that classical music favors child prodigies over experienced, but unfamous, adults who can execute the same defined task: it undermines the whole received idea that classical music is somehow more profound and more intellectual than other music.

    What does it say about Mahler that an 18 year old can “conduct” his 9th?

    What does it say about the listener who, after watching a performance of an 18 year old conducting Mahler’s 9th, jumps for joy in a standing ovation?

    Contrast jazz, it admits but 1 child prodigy every several generations.

    • “What does it say about Mahler that an 18 year old can “conduct” his 9th?”

      I think that it says nothing about Mahler but everything about the great conductors (like Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer, obviously) who pioneered the performances of that difficult work and made it not only accessible but, in the end, so familiar that any good young musician can perform it at any time. A bit like what Pablo Casals did with Bach’s cello suites.

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