Seminar with Douglas Sheldon

Glafsfjorden Music Festival 7 February 2020 at noon, from the Great hall att Ingesund School of Music.

Transcript from the seminar:

Transcript from the seminar:

Seminar with Douglas Sheldon

Great Hall, Ingesund School of Music, Arvika, Sweden

Friday 7 February 2020 at noon

Interviewer: Prof. Julia Mustonen-Dahlkvist, head of piano department at Ingesund School of Music.

Julia - We are very happy to have Douglas Sheldon here. I hope we can have a meeting that can give us a little bit insight about; first of all, who you are? what you did in your life? And the other is also I believe a lot of the listeners here today have several questions about many things.

Doug - The more questions, the better.

Julia – Yes, exactly. I have myself many questions in mind, and I hope you too. Many people in this room are thinking: How to do, how to make it thru? Plus, all these competition related questions and so on. But first, maybe you tell a little bit about your story? Shortly the life story of 50 years in the music industry.

Douglas – It’s not short. I didn’t go to conservatory. I went to Liberal Arts School University. I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. None. But I was very good academically. I could sing and surprisingly, at the age of 9 I could conduct. So that got me involved with band choruses ant that kind of stuff. But I went to Liberal arts school, which means you end up with a degree that says that you are smart, but you are actually not prepared to do anything other than – think.

Liberal art school?

Liberal Arts, that means, you know, that there is a music department, but you cannot take piano, you cannot take voice, you cannot take violin. You take musicology courses, you know. You take literature, you take philosophy. You take all sorts of things, that have little to do with the practical way to go out and make a living. So almost everyone that goes to liberal arts school end up going to Graduate School, because he or she still have to find themselves. By the way, I started out to be – do you know what American football is? American basketball? I started out to be a football coach and I ended up – here.

But, anyway, I didn’t know where to go to graduate school, so my professor sent me off to another school. But they needed a conductor, so I got to conduct the University choir club, two of the, actually, and study musicology. Right back to musicology, which in time I developed a distaste for (that another longer story). Then my College asked me back to do the choir, as the conductor went on a sabbatical. So, I went to the college choir, and we did one fall two hour tour, we did… There was a men’s school, so we had equal voice repertoire, it was a men’s college. So we did on fall tour, two hour program, we did another two hour program with the girl’s school with…repertoire.. Then we did a Christmas program. then we did the Poulenc Gloria with the symphony 60 miles away. then we did in March another tour. this is 5 programs! This is 10 hours of program for an amateur choir, at Liberal arts school. Then we did the B minor mass. Then we came back, and I said: we are supposed to sing at graduation, so let’s learn a new program. And, I still ended up, not knowing where I was going to go or what I was going to do. To make a long story short, People thought - I met with audition artists and I met managers – People thought I ought to be in the music business. But I’d not think I’d be in the music business. 

But I ended up with a Symphony, Rochester, New York. With a mad Hungarian-Swiss Conductor. Nobody wanted to work with him. Everyone who worked with him, quit. So, they hired this kid, who didn’t know any better to go and work with the music director. He fired me once, but since what he accused me of, was exactly the problem he created. He had to buy be, you won’t believe me, a Remy Martin, 10 AM in the morning, on the way to the rehearsal, which is his way of saying – I’m sorry. He couldn’t actually say the words, I’m sure you met people like that. Anyway, then I had an argument with the chairman of the board, because I didn’t think they paid me enough. And this guy in New York said, “come to Columbia”, and I did-not-want-to-go. But they didn’t pay me enough, and I moved in one week. I got stuck in Columbia, representing artists, which I knew NOTHING about. The biggest artist list in the world. I didn’t even know the artists! So, my education became really fast track! They didn’t have a training program, so you were on my own to learn it. In the end of the first three weeks, we were on the road, by bus. I was on the road for five weeks, city to city, university to university, symphony to symphony. Trying to represent the artists of Columbia for to be engaged for concerts. I ended up staying there, but I thought I’d three years, and if I learned it, if I did it well, maybe some Symphony would ask me to go and work for them. This is what I wanted to do, go back to the symphony business. After three years Chicago offered, and Boston… A lot of people. I turned down nine jobs. I stayed at the very place at the 1. the place I didn’t want to be, and 2. where I didn’t think I could do the job. And I ended up being chairman of the company.

Along the way, I had the great pleasure of working with a lot of artists, all of them good. Some of them special. Some of the superlatively great. And they were part of my education. Because I could learn from them how they played, how they prepared, how they talked. What scared them, what their goals where, why they DIDN’T meet the goals. And I learned from everyone who put on – all the presenters who put on concerts. Whether they were university presenters or impresarios or artistic people at symphony. Everyone knew something that I didn’t know. And I had to know what they knew, or I would be successful. And my knowledge has only grown geometrical. So, in the end, I managed Valery Gergiev 25 years, Ann-Sophie Mutter for 35 years, New York Philharmonic for 35 years. In the end, it was a real family, there was really strong relationships, professionally, artistically and humanly. And the basic message is, how do you survive? and you survive by knowing how to learn and learn it at the fastest rate. And knowing how to make relationships that are BEYOND that each want from each other. That’s my introduction. 

It’s the shortest I ever managed to do that, because there are many stories that are in between. 

Julia – Yes, and I hope we will hear more of the stories the coming days. In more information conversation. Yes. So. Should I ask the question? Or any of you have something in mind? The question?

Douglas – Is there only one question?

Julia – There are many questions. I think a lot of young people who are sitting here, or are listening the live stream , they are all very busy to understand What role competitions are playing in the music industry and how the real agencies and people who are actually working with the artists, making a living of it, can relate to the competition industry. From your point of view?

Douglas – It’s a really complicated issue. There is no simple answer to the question of completions. Anybody here heard of Van Cliburn? (people chuckle). 1958 Van Cliburn won the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. And it was as big in newspapers around the world as of landing the first man on the moon. Because there was an 18 years old country Texas boy who went to Moscow and beat the Russians at their game. There is nothing like it, not ever since. And that was the standard that competitions there from was started to be measures after. Which today, doesn’t apply at all. But that’s what it comes from. The interesting part, you know there is always an interesting issue – this is such an interesting subject, I can go on for hours! There is always the question of “Is the jury corrupt?” “Is the jury prejudiced?” “Is the jury political?” Is the Jury national?” “Is the jury full of people who are promoting their students?”. In that competition in 1958 – have you heard of Emil Gilels? If you haven’t, go to YouTube and find out about these guys! Because they set the standard of piano. That’s your world! Don’t live in the 21th century, go back 100 years and find out what happened in the world of piano. I’m really serious! What happened was, Gilels went, when the jury didn’t dare to announce Cliburn for political reasons, and Gilels went to Chrusjtjov, you know who Chrusjtjov was? And Chrusjtjov said: “If he is the best one, you name him.”. This was in the cold war, which was also not in your lifetime, the event of all time. Today in the world, there must be around 250 competitions maybe more. I know a friend of mine tried to count them. Maybe more…

Philipp Scheucher - 700!  

Douglas – How many?

Julia – Philipp says 700 competitions.

Douglas – Wonderful! So, it’s become a pathway. Look, if you went to a competition like that, then, your career basically exploded. No question. And Cliburn exploded so much that at times his career exploded so much, that he could not go out on stage because he was to uncomfortably, the pressure was to great. More and more concerts, more and more travels, more and more repertoire, more and more critics. they last part of his life, he didn’t play at all. I had him in a concert 1992 in Miami. He hadn’t played in Miami for 30 years and we had to talk him into playing this concert not for a tour, he did it for a friend. Only time in his life, he walked out in the hall, there was 3000 people there. If you don’t play for 30 years, you don’t fill a house! But this was the impact of Tchaikovsky 1958 and Cliburn. 3000 people there! And they stood up and clapped for 15 minutes! Nowadays when you win a competition, almost nobody claps. That’s a step, one of many steps. So, you have to figure out, what the competitions mean to you. Can it be something positive? Or will it be something negative? 

And there are a lot of people who talk down competitions nowadays. And there are competitions that appear to be judged prejudicially. ON the other hand, I have been on juries 8 times, I have been chairman three. And I can tell you that there are many people working on defining the system that not can be played with, that not can be politically, cannot be that this student can win because his teacher is on the jury. It’s getting much, much cleaner actually. I frankly believe in competitions. Does anybody care why I believe in them?

Julia – Yes, please tell you?

Douglas – There is, if you are an artist, which you are. You are engaged in the process of studying, practicing, having lessons with teacher of people hearing you. It’s not …. what age you started at, it’s not very long before you are being heard in comparison to other doing the very same thing. And you are being judged, whether you know it or not, in comparison doing the very same thing. And this never goes away. It doesn’t go away at any stage of you your life. And it is a competition. And the world has almost more musicians than it knows how to employ. There has to be a lot of musicians that has to be pretty creative. About building a foundation for life and a financial stability and growth and the development. But the competition part never goes away, it’s there before you even have to do one. And if you walk on stage for a public, you are vulnerable for that public. If you go on for a teacher, a conductor or an audition, you are vulnerable, you are being judged by that teacher, that conductor or that audience. That’s your life! And there hearing other people all the time, who are trying to do exactly the same thing that you are trying to do. So, the realistic view is, you chose to do that. You chose to be actor, who chose to compete. You can be better that - you can name who you want to be better than. I had a pianist, he asked me to manage me once and he said: He had one record, who got enormous rise from the New York Times. And finally, he told be what his goal really was. And his goal was to have higher fee that Lang Lang. And to be more famous than Lang Lang. What do you think of that goal? It has nothing to do with music, I can tell you that. And it has nothing to do with artistry. And it has nothing to do with career development. Everyone wants to be famous; everyone wants to earn money; everyone wants to be in the spotlight. But you’re in a competitive world. Anybody know about Opera? Have you ever heard of Franko Corelli? I’m sorry, I’m older than you, so I bring up these things. I apologize, Franco Corelli was one of the great tenors in the history of opera. And every time he had to go on stage, he was afraid. There wasn’t anybody greater. He had one of the unusual voices of 20th century. There were times at the Met, when he wouldn’t go out on stage out of fear and anxiety and insecurity. That’s part of this world, if you are a performer, you are always vulnerable to someone else. Someone is hearing you. someone is thinking about you. Someone is deciding whether you play that well, or you didn’t play that well. It could be your family, it could be your teacher, it could be your colleagues, it could be your friend, it could be an audience, it could be an audition, it could be a conductor. There could be other musicians. It’s your life.

So, that’s a long story. Now we’re back to Why be afraid of competitions. why? Think of which ones you could get something good out of, even if you don’t win. there are so many competitions, you can’t find a living persons who can tell you who took the 10 gold medals in competitions in year 2019. Nobody knows that. There’s too many. How many knows who won the Tchaikovisky piano competition 2019? How many don’t know? It’s nearly a fifty-fifty. 

Julia – All pianists knows […in the audience]

How many competitions are there, I said 250, somebody said vastly more than that? You only know Tchaikovsky, because you think it’s the most important. Do you know who won that last Cliburn Competition? Do you see, doesn’t it get smaller? How many of you know – and this one you better get! – How many of you know who won Beijing 2019? it got less! Do you want to hear my question? Are you ready for this? Are you really interested in this business?? Why are you here? Who don’t even know about your own business? 

I do three courses, I’m not just a manager. I have a lot of young people. And I have a church choir next to a choir college. Some of my singers are from the choir college. If I ask you who Björling was, how many knows him? How many knows who Gribaldi was, even if I asked who Tokhanova was, how many knows her? She is more recent than the ones I mentioned. They have no idea, why does this bother me? They are studying voice. They have no sense of the history of the first 70 years of the 20th century, all the great voices. Don’t you want to know who set the standard for you? Don’t you want to know what the standard is? If you play at Carnegie, maybe it’s better you don’t know that Rubinstein played there. Maybe it’s better you don’t Horowitz played there. Because it ought to scare you. Enough to be sure, that you know yourself , your art and that you continually working to raise you standard of that what you do. Does that cover competitions for the time being?

Julia – yes

Julia – In what ways do you think competitions can harm you?

Douglas – I only think they can harm you, if you want them to. Sorry, I’m a little old school. I think, if you want to be stressed out, you can be. If you accept the feeling of being pressured, and that’s something that become part of your life, I think you are making a mistake. It can only harm you, if you are convinced the pressure are too great. Why should it be? You know in advance what the requirements are, you know what you have to prepare. You know when you have to go there. You have people supporting you. The only question is if you win or not. So, if not winning will going to destroy you, what will you do when you get bad reviews? It’s not different. So, I don’t think they can hurt you, unless you and those around you put you in the mindset where you believe in. Competitions can simply be a growing experience. Whether it’s in repertoire, whether it’s in learning to go on stage under pressure. Whether you learn to work with the conductor who are not very good for you to work with, that’s true in a lot of competitions, but you still have to play. Why should that scare you? It’s not going to be any different. 

Julia – When you have for several years any established name or career, many people are afraid of be put in the judgement again, because it can happen not only that you don’t play well or get nervous, but also that, like you said, some corruption stories. And it can be very heavy, if you already have some established something and found your worth like a musician. But still want to develop the career. I have noticed that many are afraid of going in exactly this situation to compete. Because it’s not very funny to drop out publically, on live stream. Maybe somebody is pushing somebody, and you never know until you are actually there what will actually happen. What would you say about this?

Sheldon - I think the world is much more wide open now. Because Tchaikovsky competition what got a very corrupt reputation in the 80th and the 90th. they conductor Valery Gergiev was asked to take it over in 2011. His mission was to clean it up. That was the mission. Putin himself said, you have to fix this, because it hurts the image of the Russian country. I managed Gergiev, and I’m very close to him. I found for him the manager, the person, who managed that competition. Piano, violin, cello and voice. And that guy had them stream every part of the competition. Every part of each of the four, piano, violin, cello and voice, from the first round, streamed around the world. And it hadn’t happened before. What happened? In that case, 10 million people took a hit on that competition. That changes the definition what the audience prize is. That changes the definition of “Do you know what the judges heard, or do you not know it?” Because a lot of this was a about the judges, was of course was of WHAT was reported. Now you see the judges, now you hear them play. It opened up, it set a new standard. I think that happen in a lot of places. Every jury I have been on, the discussion was always, how do we get this the most objective and the cleanest? We didn’t even allow the judges to talk to each other about any competitor until after the competition was over. And they could be your best friends. But the rules where: Don’t talk, you listen, make your notes, make your judgement, keep you notes, make your decisions along the way. And you could only discuss is after the finals where decided. And that’s because you may have a tie. You see the final results, it always work out. Sometimes after you have to work out to what to do with the tie. I think all of that is much cleaner now. Am I on subjett, or am I on subject?

Julia – it’s anyway very interesting 

Sheldon: I don’t think anything can hurt you, unless you have a propensity to being afraid of it. What is it you have to do? You can rely on your technique and your intellectual approach, and play without any personal involvement, without even paying much attention to the audience, you can do that. It’s possible to do it, some do. Or you can play, being involved in the music and being involved with the audience. I don’t mean in terms of showmanship. I mean enjoying the fact that you are there playing for them. And enjoying the music and finding in the music something beyond that was is technical and that what is academic. That is a vulnerability, because what will happen to anybody that go on stage? He has critics. Period. So, there is a story, how many knows who Sir Georg Solti was, the great conductor? He was in London, and Gergiev was conducting at Covent Garden and Gergiev gave him a dinner, thirty people. Gergiev was a young man and he got this fantastic review, of Otello. He was telling everybody at his table, because he was so excited about it. And Solti went [Douglas firmly clapping Julia’s arm to show] “Stop that, young man!”. He continued, “Stop that!”, three times. And finally, Solti said (actually he adored Gergiev, but Gergiev was much younger) “Young man, if you want to believe good reviews, then you have to believe you bad reviews.”. What is he saying? “DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR STANDARD IS OR DO YOU NOT?”. That’s what he’s saying. And that’s the hardest for an artist to do, because you look always to someone else to tell you if it’s good. This is deeper than just sitting down, learning the piano. There is an emotional, and an intellectual manner of maturity of becoming and artist. And you have to know yourself. That’s the hardest thing for anybody to do whether you are an artist or not.

But most people don’t go and play before a thousand people or New York Times critic. Or be streamed, you know. If you are streamed in a competition, to a whole country, will you be afraid of that? What am I trying to get at? Get rid of your fears, get immersed in the music. You are in one of the most vulnerable professions possible. You and actors. What do you think about a singer, when they walk on stage? At least you can blame the piano, if you have a good one, or you don’t. Singers, who they going to blame? Their instruments are inside them. And they are vulnerable. They voice doesn’t work as well as some piano keys. But that’s our world. 

Julia – I move to the question, passing beyond the competitions. Do agencies follow, after competitions, looking up… Do they follow?

Douglas – The trouble is, I give big complicated answers, you know. There are no simple answers, I don’t have any simple answers. There was a time of course, when agents ran after competitions, trying to pick up the gold medalists. I don’t think that’s true today. No competitions have such a big standing. and it has been proven, that all gold medalists don’t go on successfully, they just don’t. Sometimes it turns out the third medalist has the long standing career.

I think, everything comes out of connections. I don’t mean connections the way politicians talk about connections. when you start out as an artist… You know when you drop a stone in a pond, then ripples come, and then more and more. You’re the stone, What’s the first ripple? the parents. What’s the second? your first teacher. What’s your third one? People emanating from what you are doing with your parents and your teacher. It may be another teacher; it may be someone you play chamber music with. And as this goes on, your ripple of friends, your ripple of context, your networking, expands. and what you get, even from an early age, the intensity, the quality or the sincerity for the growth influences how fast and how far these ripples going to go, and how big they going to get. So when you get to pre-college, you ought to have a lot of people you already believe in you, that know about you. That have their own word of mouth. Then goes to completions, and it includes other musicians. You can go to a competition, competing against two or three people, that ends up that you are best friends for the rest of your lives. Maybe even though, that he won, and you didn’t. Because you learned to how admire, who each person was, and what you were accomplishing. And agents are the same way. Agents manage the people the are mostly connected to. No matter how they get it. I’m in New York one day, and I get the telephone from Lorin Maazel, one of the great conductors. Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Vienna Opera…. He called me from Berlin and said, “I just heard this fantastic violinist, and I want you to manage him!” I said “who?” and he gave me a name I never heard of. I said, “why are we so excited about this?” “Doug, this young man plays in the most noble style I’ve heard since Nathan Milstein”. (You know who Nathan Milstein is?) And he talked me for five minutes, and I said good buy, and I called, (This was Frank Peter Zimmermann) and I called his manager in Berlin and said I wanted to manage Frank. I’ve never met Frank, I’ve never seen a picture of him and I’ve never heard him play. Then the way Lorin talked about him, the way Lorin explained his artistry, his musicality – was enough. This is in the whole world; we are all in this - Jaap van Zweden said, “take this one”. The people you meet, influence your direction. 

You influence them, how well you play. How well you play, how well you relate to them. 

-Where is Noah, is Noah here? We were talking about relationships, right? So much of the success in your life are the relationships you make, and sustain. Based on friendship – yes, standard of music, understand fo music and career. Together, why? You enforce each other. Artists all the time talk to other artists, all the time. Friends, managers, orchestras and agents. And they either say positive things, or they say negative things. The negative things are based on not having a relationship and having a prejudice. The positive is based on some kind of relationship. You’re responsible for you own relationships. For sustaining them, for understanding them, for letting them grow. There is a lot to be said. Look: you can let people come in here and say, you have to be social media savvy. Or maybe even some higher level than just savvy, you have to be a social media expert, to get your name out, to get your name out, to get your face out, to get your profile out, to get your music out. And they are not wrong. Some will say to you “you need a recording, or you need a video”. Nobody will make that for you, you are on your own to figure out how to get that done. And the video of you playing has almost become a calling card, not a commercial item, a calling card. “This is who I am. Hopefully will you listen and look at it, and we can work together.”. That’s now what the business is. You are creating you own image – yes, thru relationships – yes, thru social media – yes, thru videos. The one that one that will sustain you the most are the relationships in the context you can sustain. 

Julia – and then maybe we have some final questions. What would be your advice to the young generation of very promising talents? How to think? What to do? The answer can be complicated here too. What is most important to think about?

Doug – Well not only, we talked about competitive. The business of music is competitive. There are lot of wonderful musicians who thought they were to play in Carnegie Hall and instead of now play, what is now called David Geffen Hall, are sitting in 1st violin section of the New York Philharmonic. There are members who thought they would be soloists, who are now members of the Shanghai quartet, or any other quartet. You have to find what suits for you. What your talents is, what your collaborations are. What your interest is. It may take you into chamber music, it may take you into even to orchestra playing. You know, if you are in the Met Orchestra in New York, you have a very good living, I can tell you that. And you still have time to out and play chamber music and teach. There are all sorts of musical careers. If you want to have a solo career, you need to define purpose, focus and intensity - that is pretty rare. It’s not going to come easily. and you need all the help you can get. But the people around have to know, that’s that is your direction. That everything you’re doing is focused on that. That has to do even with your habits, or how you practice. What’s your practice, when your practice, what repertoire do you take out. How do you react to your teacher, is that the right teacher? Or do you need to take another step? But it’s not going to happen – how do I put this – artists create their own career, from their own intensity. That I believe in. And everything I talked to you about, is kind of… I don’t try to give you some easy answers, because I don’t believe there are any easy answers about this. I have managed artists who didn’t understand their own repertoire. It’s not that they couldn’t play it, they could play it. But if someone sits and tells me: “I have 56 concerti”. What? “I have 56 concerti” I say, which ones can I talk to orchestras about? “I have 56, I can play anyone”. It’s not true. I don’t care if he actually learned every one of them, it’s not true. In that case he is not a performer, he is a librarian! 

I asked Lang Lang: “how many concerti do you have, how many do you know?” He said “44”. I said “Now, Lang Lang, ok…” He said, “24 I’ve memorized”. Even that’s unusual, 24 memorized. It’s doesn’t mean however that he OWNS 24 concerti. It doesn’t mean that each of those 24 is something that he uniquely gives something to. So you can say “what’s your party piece?” Do you know the definition of a party piece? Did you ever have that discussion? That’s supposed to be the one you get up in the morning and you go to the piano and you can play it whether you drank the night before or not. Does that make you a great artist? It makes you a technician. so the questions is “what do you own?” Such that, when you express it, it touches somebody. It opens their ear, it opens their mind, it opens their heart – or their spirit. That’s what music is – it’s communication. 

It’s not about you! As much I told you it’s about you. Now, it’s whether you can take that and put it off as footlight, so to speak, and make it real to somebody else. And that’s the goal, it has to be the goal. There are different ways to do it, and there are successful people who are doing this not quite the way you and I are talking about it today. Ok, so what? You look at any profession, there are people that you - I like this one, but I don’t like that one. Because of how they do it, or how they communicate. I’ve dealt with enough of artists, that I also feel pretty strongly that you have to have a whole life. You have to have a whole life, that is healthy beyond the life you have with the piano, beyond your relationship with your teacher. Because what you do is highly intelligent, highly emotional and highly vulnerable. That’s all of life, you know. How many have heard of children, who never speak to their parents again as soon as they get out of their house. What went wrong with that? Who’s fault is that? there is are vulnerability in every possible relation, so the question is – how do you grow? Not just as an artist, but how do you grow as a person? And if you healthier as a person, probably you are healthier as an artist. But if you are NOT…? One of the best pianists I ever heard, I’ve heard a lot of pian ists, you believe that, yeah? Back before Rubinstein. the best I ever heard – had to visit a psychiatrist five times a week, because of his anxieties. “What is I don’t play this perfectly?” “What will the critic say?” “What will the audience think?” And he became one of the gigantic cancellers of all time. It’s not that he couldn’t play, he was one of the best possible. But he would get afraid, and when he got afraid, he would cancel. He called me up and said, “I can’t play Mozart this summer, in New York”. I said, Why not? You prepared this for two years? You had performances leading up to it, I know you can play it. and then he named the critic of New York Times. “He will be there, and he will give me a bad review, and I can’t play there”. All these emotions go thru and artists head sometimes, someplace, somewhere. The question then becomes, what is your emotional maturity? It’s not purely your technique, it’s not your level of artistry, what is your musical sophistication. You know, what is your emotional maturity? I’m a big believer that you can’t do any of this without having a philosophy about how you do it. And without understanding and knowing yourself. How many have ever read any Socrates? That’s where the original phrase “Know yourself” came from. Five thousand years old. Human beings don’t change. We have the same vulnerabilities; we have the same aspirations. It’s a question how we learn to manage our life and emotions - and our habits. A lot has to do with what’s your habit of thinking about music? what’s your habit of learning music? What’s your habit of learning NEW music? What’s your habit of practicing? Is that taking you positively to where you need to take? After you learn a piece? Literarily, I had a pianist, this will be interesting, I had a pianist that needed to play the Chopin 2 with the New York Philharmonic. And he called me up in November for a date in January and said “I need to cancel”. I said “Why do we have to cancel? We planned all of this. this is in January, and we are in November.” “I won’t be ready” he answered. “Well, I need 300 hours at this concerto.” Did you ever spend 300 hours on ONE concerto? Anybody?

Aristo Sham – Eventually… [Audience laughs]

Doug - The pianist answered to Doug “I have marked all the hours with conductors, and it only sums up to 196 hours.” Well, I’m not a pianist, but I was doing everything but pulling my hair out. I couldn’t talk him into doing it. Part of it, was not that he couldn’t play it, this is one of the best pianists, and I know a lot of pianists. It’s not that he couldn’t play it, he said he couldn’t function. And he had these fears. So, I asked him if you need to learn a new concerto, how many hours? And he answered “30 hours”. Ok, I know violin is different than piano, I’m not a fool. Lorin Maazel once said “Doug, do you know there are 50 thousand notes Rachmaninov piano concerto No. 3?” Of course, I don’t know, but I believe Lorin, if anybody counted them, he did! “So, you need 30 hours. WAIT, you spend a lot more hours thinking about it, Doug said. That’s your question, what are you thinking about it? Because music is HERE [pointing to the head] and HERE [pointing to the heart]. This is just the way to do it [mimicking playing the piano]. 

Julia – on this note we probably thank you for this wonderful seminar. This was absolutely wonderful to hear, everything. We now have a recording of this, and we will look again and discuss everything what you just told us. 

Doug – Oh, la la!!! 

Julia – Sometimes is eye opening to hear…

Doug – Well there are three possibilities: Either it bored you, scared you or inspired you. You take the choice.

Julia – we look forward meeting your more informal the coming days, and we welcome you to Sweden. Thank you!