An orchestra full of stars can be a disaster.
And at the same time, I had my very first concert at the age of 16. I hadn't heard a symphony orchestra before, and I was so deeply impressed I said I have to be a conductor.
And to understand this, I think this is a most important point where I would like always to be understood what we do with the New York Philharmonic. That the meaning of the music is number one.
As I came to New York, it was for me a new beginning. To discover what people are living here. What do they need, what do they expect, what would they like to be the image and the performance of the New York Philharmonic?
At the age of 16, something happened with my finger and the doctor told me, you never can be a organist or pianist, so think about what you do with music.
Even I had no opportunity to conduct very many concerts after World War II.
Even my family laughed at me because they thought this young guy who's always stuttering in front of other people should be in front of 100 musicians and talk to them and leading them.
I always imagined that to bring an orchestra to play together is not enough for a conductor.
I believe so, but at first he must know. He must know in which spirit Beethoven has composed this piece. He must try to study that. And he must find out in which station of life of Beethoven he did.
I can go in front of an orchestra. I can go in front of an audience. But if you see me walking through an audience in the reception or through a lot of people, I'm still shy.
I was different from most young conductors today.
I worked on scores. I went to the musical library in Berlin which is very famous. I discovered that we had scores of Beethoven, printed scores of Beethoven, that are full of mistakes. Not the wrong or false notes, but the wrong dynamic, understandable things.
I wouldn't say I've changed my mind. I changed some of my natural habits, some of my natural character.
If you go to Japan for instance, you should know that they have a different way of playing Beethoven or Brahms. But if you play with them Mozart, Debussy, Mendelssohn, they have a wonderful light feeling for that.
In South America, I heard the 8th Symphony of Beethoven. And the young conductor thought, Beethoven must be heroic. But this is piece which shouldn't be heroic. And this was such a misunderstanding, such a deep misunderstanding.
Sometimes if you have very confident people, you have to tell them please, be polite, there are other players are good enough as you and you should never speak out of an orchestra.
The message of music was also the first thing what I learned from my first teacher. She was an organist too and she was very devoted to what she played, so she had a respect for every piece and she felt that she is not allowed to add something of her own.
Very often, if I know the orchestra doesn't know a piece or it's a new piece, I have main ideas about it. But then we start to play and I never talk about places where they played so beautiful and so clear in the beginning that there is nothing to say.
You have to change your mind with every orchestra because every orchestra has a different character.
You know as I started as a shy young conductor, I always wanted to cooperate. To build up the musicians. To help them to be better than without a conductor. And sometimes young talented musicians have to be encouraged.