Maestro slim: ‘I lost 46kg in lockdown’

Maestro slim: ‘I lost 46kg in lockdown’


norman lebrecht

July 07, 2020

The Finnish conductor Leif Segerstam, 76, has been composing more symphonies during lockdown – he’s up to #339.

He has also lost weight – down from 170kg to 124.

Interview here.




  • Henry williams says:

    Did he know the hairdressers are open

  • kman says:

    Does he just compose for fun? Or are all of those symphonies commissioned? If just for fun, do they end up being performed?

    • JohnG says:

      Some of them are couplings for his most recent Brahms symphony cycle with the Turku Philharmonic! The cover art shows the great, bearded, tousle-haired master. Its also shows Brahms. (Bonkers liner notes too!)

    • Gustavo says:

      They are commissioned and conducted by himself.

      Was Mahler’s 6th commissioned?

      Was it fun?

      • Lincoln says:

        To my understanding, some of Segerstam’s symphonies have never been performed

      • John Borstlap says:

        The big hammer blow on the wooden box in the finale was the result of M’s answer to these two questions with ‘no’.

    • pjl says:

      as a conductor he can sneak in the odd one, I think; they are often short and sometimes need improvisation. Less performed are the 116 symphonies of the late Derek Bourgeois (the total minutes may equal LS’s ?) including 103 The Swiss Roll and 111 The Nelson (a reference less obvious to those who know not cricket terminology)

    • Cubs Fan says:

      Some of them actually get recorded! Some interesting ideas, but you must have your 20th c ears on. Some are quite short, most weird. Maybe rather than doing crossword puzzles or play golf, he writes music. Here’s a link to symphony 253.

  • Gustavo says:

    Ein bisschen dick ist nicht so slim.

  • MacroV says:

    That’s impressive, as most people have probably gained weight in lockdown.

  • Henry williams says:

    I find his compositions hair rasing.

  • Gustavo says:

    Now that is worth a debate:

    “It is this autopoetic moment that fascinates Segerstam because it is like natural developments, clouds or waves that slide over one another. There is a cosmic claim in this – as with Beethoven at the latest in the Ninth or as with Mahler, who also used the big hammer in his Sixth. “Male music” is what Segerstam calls it, music that urges discharge in orgasm, like that of Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler or Sibelius, which he prefers to conduct.”

    • John Borstlap says:

      Ridiculous quote. And ridiculously pretentious. Natural phenomenae are in Segerstam not interpreted and artfully stylized, as in great music as reffered to by Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler and Sibelius, but roughly imitated in a quite primitive way, uncooked, unconsidered, materialistically, puerilly. It is closer to Ives, another pretentious and superficial imitator of ‘nature’. To invoke those old masters who had more talent in their pinky than in the entire mass of Segerstam, is merely embarrassing…. conductors should stick to their job and keep their hobbies to themselves.

  • Dennis says:

    I think many would rather see those numbers reversed: Weight up, new symphonies down.

    • Peter says:

      Jeez, let him compose as many as he likes. And let’s be happy with this unconventional, personal, original composer/conductor.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The living incarnation of excess.

  • fflambeau says:

    He’s a great conductor. Very insightful, excellent command of the musical world.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    During the lockdown, many people have been inspired to bake chocolate brownies, pies, and cornbread at home.
    At this point, I think that any of those have more genuine value than Segerstam’s Symphony no. 339.
    (I’m a day late writing this comment; LS has probably composed 3 or 4 more symphonies in the meanwhile.)

    • Peter says:

      “Chocolate brownies, pies and cornbread”….your poor heart and arteries are crying for mercy! Losing weight saves lives.
      If you are irritated by someone who wrote more than 300 symphonies: start ignoring Segerstam as a composer. And discover his great work as a conductor.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Dear Peter,
        Well, it’s obviously a case of you not carefully reading my comment (which was written – apparently unsuccessfully – in a humorous vein), before you comment on it.
        First of all, I didn’t suggest that I myself bake and eat brownies and pies. I do not. I do bake and eat cornbread on occasion, but not in quantities large enough to affect my health. At last year’s medical checkup my doctor told me that my weight and blood pressure were within normal parameters for someone my age. My heart and arteries are just fine. (My back, on the other hand….)
        Second, nowhere did I state that I was *irritated* by Segerstam’s symphony output. “Bemused” or “amused” would be closer to the mark.
        Third, I do not have to *start* ignoring him as a composer. I have successfully done so for many years.
        And fourth, I have expressed before, on this very blog, that I like his work as a conductor and have done for a long time.
        You might think about working on developing two basic skills, Peter: the ability to read with comprehension, and the ability to share in a bit of humor.

  • John Borstlap says:

    My fly on he wall informs me that Segerstam’s publisher sends a big lorry every afternoon to collect the new symphonies, and had to hire a special building to house them. Twelve extra employees are working daily to type-set the music, after five musicologists have deciphered the handwriting which Dr Stimmbaerden, head of the group, described as ‘worrisome unclear and complex’.

    The symphonies are to be performed without conductor, and in the way natural phenomenae unfold, quite on their own and not hampered by an authoritarian man who thinks he knows better.

  • Ben G. says:

    I’ve played with him many times. He is in a vortex of his own, and you simply can’t pull him out of it.

    Let him compose all he wants. Whether his music pleases you or not, he isn’t hurting anyone and above all, it makes him happy!

  • fflambeau says:

    His symphonies are criticized here for their brevity. Many of Haydn’s are 10 or so minutes long, and in my opinion, show less creativty than Segerstam’s.

  • He didn’t actually lose any fat. He just shaved and got a crew cut.