Roger Norrington: I am not that interesting

Roger Norrington: I am not that interesting


norman lebrecht

November 13, 2021

In his exit interview, ahead of this week’s retirement concert, the British conductor talks to Bavarian Radio:

BR- KLASSIK: That is very symbolic when you end with this symphony, which is nicknamed “The Clock”. Is there a time in your career that you particularly remember?

Sir Roger Norrington : A lot! “Night of the Proms” of course, with three million listeners. It was so fantastic in Stuttgart, the orchestra played so wonderfully. We had a wonderful 15 years together, very, very friendly and open. And I am very grateful. I’ve had a wonderful 60 years on the podium and now it’s time to retire a bit and listen to some CD’s.

BR- KLASSIK: What are you going to do with the time if you no longer perform?

Sir Roger Norrington : Read! We live wonderfully in the country here. We can see the English Channel from home and Dartmoor National Park. And write a little too.

BR- KLASSIK: your memoirs? Or what can we look forward to?

Sir Roger Norrington : For my family only. No, I am not that interesting.






  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    On this we totally agree!!

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      Ah Madame Vitriol returns to the fray with a post of immense vacuity. Sir Roger is a wonderful musician as any orchestral player will tell and confirm.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        “Wonderful” doesn’t have a musical metric in its meaning. Wagner was a ‘wonderful’ composer; for some. For others, not so much; but the word didn’t describe his actual achievement.

  • Me says:

    What a dumbass question!!!

    “I’ve had a wonderful 60 years on the podium and now it’s time to retire a bit and listen to some CD’s.

    BR- KLASSIK: What are you going to do with the time if you no longer perform?”

  • Alexander T says:

    I am inclined to agree with him.

  • Una says:

    Typically uneffacing.

  • Una Barry says:

    Not interesting? I certainly found this particular interview very interesting and at times humourous to transcribe as the official transcriber and a privilege to do so for the musicologist, Bruce Duffie in Chicago. Bruce interviewed Roger for WNIB Classical 97 in Chicago, as he did thousands of eminent musicians and producers passing through many from Britain to perform at the Lyric Opera, or with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. You don’t go there if you are useless!

    • FSM says:

      Thank you! for preserving these important interviews for the historical record and mentioning ¹ some of the legacy of Bruce and old classical WNIB, a historic classical radio station that ran on a shoestring budget but was a bastion for the arts.

  • Harold Clarkson says:

    Roger has been a wonderfully colourful addition to our concert life for so many years. Whether or not one agrees with his interpretations (I personally always enjoyed them on the many tours we did together) he often managed to bring some lightness and fun into overly serious concerts, surely in a way that the composers themselves would have often enjoyed. In addition he was always a real pleasure to work with, great ideas, wit and charm of the best kind. Surely we should simply be grateful that there are artists like him that have given many of us a lot to think about and discuss. I will miss his performances.

    • Una says:

      Exactly! Fun often brings good music-making. Did with us on tour with Kent Opera to the Edinburgh Festival and Sadlers Wells, plus the tour of bringing quality opera to provincial towns.

  • Charles Goodwin says:

    Perhaps what he meant was … “Compared to the people whose music I conduct – Beethoven, Mozart et al – I am not that interesting.”
    I think most performers would say exactly the same thing.

  • Martinon says:

    What is it with this (often anonymous, usually unsupported and frequently derogatory) Norrington-bashing? No one has ever forced anyone to attend his concerts and even less to buy his CDs… I am personally very grateful for what he has brought to Music and to music-making!

    • John Borstlap says:

      I was forced on two occasions to attend a concert conducted by this man, as part of my job. I’ve no idea what’s wrong or good about it, I was just bored to death, it was all that old stuff that was played. Fortunately I got my smartphone to read some old interviews with Boulez.


  • Rob Keeley says:

    Back in 1994 I had the honour of being asked to rehearse (on Stephen Isserlis’ piano, forgive the name-dropping…) the fine Nicholas Maw Violin Concerto with Joshua Bell and Sir Roger conducting. Relatively speaking I was a no more than useful nobody, but he couldn’t have been nicer to me. I couldn’t enjoy his take on Mahler 9, though. That vibrato-less string sound just didn’t work for me. i hope he enjoys his retirement.

  • Nicholas Logie says:

    I am forever grateful to Roger for his insights into musical interpretation. I first encountered Roger in rehearsal for Figaro with Kent Opera. Up to this point, interpretation was, for me, the notes on the page. In his introduction to the rehearsal, Roger entreated us to read the Beaumarchais Figaro trilogy, the source of Figaro as well as Rossini’s ‘Barber of Seville’. Far from simply amazing music, I learnt to appreciate the historical significance of Figaro and its challenge to the dominance of the aristocracy in the 18th Century. Thank you Roger.