Saturday, October 25, 2008

Eugene Ormandy, the Yogi Berra of the Orchestra

From 1938 until 1980, Eugene Ormandy was musical director for the Philadelphia orchestra, famous for his inspired direction and style...and also for his humorous verbal attempts, such as: “I never say what I mean but I always manage to say something similar.”

The orchestra collected their favorites, and here are a few of mine:
  • “During the rests -- pray."
  • “Why do you always insist on playing while I'm trying to conduct?”
  • “Mahler wrote it as the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. I mean the fourth movement of his First Symphony. We play it third. The trumpet solo will be played by our solo trumpet player.”
  • “Let me explain what I do here. I don't want to confuse you any more than absolutely necessary.”
  • “I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to”
  • “Thank you for your cooperation and vice versa.”
  • “If you don't have it in your part, leave it out, because there is enough missing already.”
  • “It's difficult to remember when you haven't played it before.”
  • “We can't hear the balance yet because the soloist is still on the airplane.”
  • “Please follow me because I have to follow him and he isn't here.”
  • “Percussion, a little louder." / "We don't have anything." / "That's right, play it louder.”
  • “That's the way Stravinsky was. Bup, bup, bup, bup. The poor guy's dead now. Play it legato.”
  • “The notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.”
  • “Who is sitting in that empty chair?”
  • “The next movement is still in the factory.”
  • “Don't ever follow me, because I am difficult.”
  • “It is not as difficult as I thought it was, but it is harder than it is.”
  • “Start beforty-two.”
  • “Start three bars before something.”
  • “Start at B. Yes. No. Yes. No.”
  • “Did you play? It sounded very good.”
  • “It has no rhythm, but it will because it's so much faster.”
  • “Tonight I'm going to listen with my ears.”
  • “Long note? Yes. Make it seem short.”
  • “It's all very well to have principles, but when it comes to money you have to be flexible.”
And although he also said, “Death is an awful thing. I don't believe in it myself.” Eugene Ormandy died in 1985, and we will miss him.

For a much longer collection of his quotes, see the Arizona State University's collection of Eugene Ormandy quotes.

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