O ESTADO DE SÃO PAULO|
July 29, 2005
Opening doors, with Kurt Masur
by João Luiz Sampaio
White hairs, nearly two meters tall, the serious, sober look. Everything in Kurt Masur is frightening until the moment he opens up a smile and congratulates the young conductor for the beautiful introduction in the piece by Brahms or the group of violas that finally loosens up and achieves the result expected in the Adagio by Barber. "No, I don't give up", he jokes, fetching laughs from the orchestra.
It is difficult to judge the extent of the experience obtained by the young musicians of the Festival Academic Orchestra that play under his leadership today in Campos and on Sunday at the Sala São Paulo. In the same way, how is it possible to specify the role he can have in the career of the young conductors that are studying with him this week? One of them says that just being close to him, one already learns. For another one, it is the opportunity to learn how the maestro relates to the music he interprets. And Masur, how does he define his work? He tries to reply in the following interview.
How can one teach someone to become a maestro in one week? Is it possible?
(Laughs). Of course, unless the student has absolutely no talent, then it's difficult. The worry is not the technique. There is one or another thing that needs to be corrected, but this is not the focus. The maestro's problem at the age of these students, between 20 and 30 years old, is that he/she begins to conduct some orchestras and has no one else to hear him/her. The musicians will simply say: this maestro is good, that one isn't. But there is someone missing who tries to understand what they are doing and follows them up in the search to understand the music. Now, three days is really little. But it can be sufficient if the student is already good. What I can do is to show a key, open the door with him and hope that he will continue on his way.
Who gave you your key?
Furtwängler and Bruno Walter. But there are other references. Bach, for the spirit of his music. And Mendelssohn, from whom I learned the meaning of being a leader. He was a man socially oriented, who cared for his musicians and for his audience, above any vanity.
A documentary is being filmed here in Campos focussed on three generations of maestros with you, Roberto Minczuk and the festival students. In what sense do these generations differ?
It is very difficult to say. There are no rules, only exceptions. Minczuk is a musician of double European inheritance since, as the son of Polish parents, he absorbed both from the West and the East. At the same time, he grew up in Brazil and assimilated the very special culture of the country, its imagination, its coloring. He is a young man with new ideas, yes, but is very familiar with tradition. And this makes him a responsible musician, conscious of the importance of using his imagination to give life, first of all, to the message of the great composers. Besides, it is necessary to say that the current musicians are much better prepared than those in days of old, they have an excellent technical level. But there is a danger in this, which is the greed for success. One must not fall into this trap.
You talked of the result, in Minczuk, of a union of different cultures. Having conducted throughout the world, how do you feel the differences in the way that each country or continent sees how music is made nowadays?
There are some well defined differences. Any American orchestra, for example, is capable of doing practically anything, the technical level is excellent. But, if the conductor does not interfere, the result tends to sound cold, indifferent. That is an error. And that is when the importance of the maestro comes in, his imagination and capability to lead the musicians to some place through a composer's work. But the celebration of difference is important. In London and Paris I have been surprised to see how the same musical ideas have obtained different results in sound.
And the students of the orchestra, how has the experience of playing with them been? What changes at the moment one conducts a group of young musicians without experience?
It is not so different, but one thing is fundamental. Patience. It is necessary to have patience or you destroy these young people. But I am very happy with the result obtained so far. And this only confirms the experience I have had for many years. When you play with young people, the results are sometimes better. There is a disposition to learn, to take that extra step, to let oneself be involved by the idea that, as maestro, I want to transmit. But the objectives are the same.