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John Mauceri


John MauceriJohn Mauceri’s extraordinary career has taken him to the world’s greatest opera companies, symphony orchestras and musical stages of both Europe and America. Regarded as the pre-eminent performer of the music of Hollywood’s émigré composers, Mr. Mauceri has taken the lead in preserving, performing and conducting the works of artists as diverse as Debussy, Stockhausen, Bernstein, Elfman and Ives.  He has recorded more than 70 albums and earned extensive international recognition, including a Grammy, Olivier, Cannes Classique, two Emmys and four Deutsche Schallplatten awards.

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Transcript

[ Background Noise ]

>> Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the sixth of our Commerce and Creativity lectures. We are thrilled to have you here this evening and we're certainly thrilled to have John Mauceri as our speaker this evening. I know that most of you in this room know more about John than I know and have known about him for longer than I've known about John. He is currently the chancellor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He was the founding director and principle conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra from 1991 to 2006. He's an American conductor, producer and arranger for theater, opera and television. For 15 years he served on the faculty of Yale University. He was a protÈgÈ of Leonard Bernstein and was the 2000 Berlin [inaudible] fellow at the American Academy at Berlin. Regarded as the most eminent performer of the music of Hollywood's [inaudible] composers, Maestro Mauceri has taken the lead in preserving, preforming and conducting the works of artists as diverse as [inaudible], Stockhausen, Bernstein, Elfman, and Ives. He has recorded more than 70 albums and earned extensive international recognition including a Grammy, Olivier, [inaudible], two Emmys and four [inaudible] awards. Please join me in welcoming to the podium John Mauceri.

[ Applause ]

>> Well thank you Bob. I'm very grateful for the invitation to be here. It's always emotional for me to come back to Los Angeles. It reminds me of so many years that we spent together, 350 concerts at the Bowl and it was in Los Angeles that I actually made my professional conducting debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic when I was I don't know 20-something and on that program was a piece by Igor Stravinsky called The Rite of Spring and it was one of those conversations. I was conducting Candide by Leonard Bernstein in Brooklyn so I know exactly it was 1972 or 1973 and the phone call came from Ernest Fleishman who at that time was the managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic looking for an instantaneous guest conductor because Josef Krips, the great Viennese conductor, had to cancel because of illness and I remember the conversation quite well with Ernest and the program had everything in it that I didn't know so it was easy to say no [laughter] and by the end of the conversation I had said yes [laughter] and there you were. And I remember it was Rudolf Serkin playing the Emperor Concerto which I in fact had done an Emperor Concerto a few weeks before and I had actually conducted The Rite of Spring about a month before at Yale and I remember saying to Ernest that I didn't know any overtures except the [inaudible] overture to which he said good, that's the perfect program, so it will be [inaudible] Concerto and The Rite of Spring and so I have very fond memories of Los Angeles and of the public and part of this conversation of course I have actually written a speech. The speech takes about an hour, an hour and 15 minutes so if that's too much for you you just get up and leave-

[ Laughter ]

And at the end if there's any of you left I'm happy to answer questions. Indeed I have been chancellor of a university for seven years. I'm stepping down as of July 1 after seven years of public service in a great university that trains artists and I looked at that as Act III of my life. I look at Act I is getting ready for being a professional musician, Act II a lot of what you already know about me, and Act III was running a school. Act IV is what's calling me right now and we all know about Act V. I think we can all kind of imagine Act V [laughter] and I think whenever Act V happens I hope I'm ready for it. Now we are here to talk about something. I'm going to read, but I'm going to hopefully read it not like I'm reading as Betty points out. I'll try to read it like I'm talking to you now but the reason I'm actually here is that on June 1 I'll have the privilege of conducting a concert here at Cal State Northridge to celebrate the 100th anniversary of a performance that took place in Paris, one that made worldwide news at the time and still has ramifications for all of us here in Los Angeles. And the point of our concert, and actually it's part of a proposed series that were going to do here at Cal State Northridge, and that series is called Concerts Context, music in the life of a great city. And the point of the series is to find out how classical music from other eras in other cities have a meaning and relevance for all of us here today. What you may well ask would a performance that took place on May 31, 1913, given by a troop of Russians in a Paris theater have anything to do with our lives? So in a way this is a story about five springs, the springs of 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912 and finally 1913. Now spring has been the subject of songs that go back as far as poetry and music, but once instrumental music developed a big enough vocabulary to describe things without words it describes spring. Vivaldi describes spring in Rome in 1723.

[ Music ]

And Mendelssohn describes spring in London in 1842.

[ Music ]

Johan Strauss describes spring in Vienna in 1883.

[ Music ]

And in 1912 Igor Stravinsky imagined spring in ancient Russia.

[ Music ]

It was noisy [laughter] in Russia. Because we live in a decimal system we have expectations that when all the numbers go to zero something new will happen and certainly that was the case in 1900 and artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and political activists all took part in making that happen. For some it wasn't happening fast enough. For others it was an opportunity that comes around well every 100 years. At that time Russian society embraced all things that were Parisian, the ballet, the jewelry, the architecture and the language. French was after all the official language of the Russian court, however for Europeans Russia was a mysterious and distant wilderness. It was part of Asia. It barely had emerged from the Middle Ages. Europe did not read Russian novels and did not look at Russian painting and in any case the czar was not interested in cultural outreach to Europe. After all what would be the point? So the Russian impresario, Sergei Diaghilev, he was an art lover, a charmer and a self-described charlatan, saw an opening. Bring his Russian culture with all its bursting energy unknown in Europe to Paris. With the help of some French money he tested the waters with five concerts of Russian music. Music by Glazunov, Rimsky Korsakov, and Sergei Rachmaninoff who was on hand to play his own piano concerto number two. Feodor Chalapin sang in unstaged excerpts from Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and the audience was electrified.

[ Singing ]

And so in the spring of 1909 history began to happen in Paris. With [inaudible] designs for a ballet pantomime called Cleopatra and the overtly sexual Ida Rubenstein in the title role and the young, exotic and brilliantly athletic Vaslav Nijinsky as her love slave, Diaghilev had a hit. Choreographer Michael Fokine prepared a new set of dances in the ballet from Prince Igor called the Polovtsian Dances. The men were naked from the waist up and their bodies were covered in mud. The set by Nicholas [inaudible] was primitive and foreboding. The thunderous rhythms of 19th century score, the sensual maidens, and the leaps of the mud men so confrontationally different from Swan Lake drove many in the audience to such a level of frenzy they stormed the stage door.

[ Music ]

By the end of their Russian season in 1909 Diaghilev understood how his passion had met his market and his opportunities.

[ Music ]

The next spring when Chalapin decided he didn't want to go to Paris and have anything more to do with Diaghilev and the only other world famous opera singer, Enrico Caruso, was to sing with the Metropolitan Opera on tour in Paris, the Russian impresario focused on the one thing he had, a ballet company, at least in his mind and an awareness of how great design, powerful music and a heavy mix of the exotic, the sexual, and yes violence was what Europe wanted. That was the year of the premier of the Firebird with music by the unknown Igor Stravinsky who was certainly not Diaghilev's first choice as a composer. The composer was to have been Anatoli Leavoff [phonetic] but he was repeatedly late in fulfilling his deadlines and was fired. That season also marked the world premiere of the grandest of exotic pageants, [inaudible] with magnificent sets and costumes by Leon Bakst, Rimsky Korsakov's colorful and tuneful score, the highly erotic Ida Rubenstein as the Princess Zebadiah and Nijinsky as her golden slave. Scheherazade would remain in the company for years well after the death of Diaghilev in 1929. It was so popular it even inspired a brilliant parody in the finale to Act 1 of the Broadway musical by Rogers and Hart from 1936 called On Your Toes and that ballet was choreographed by George Balanchine. Diaghilev understood star power. With Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky he had two of the greatest. Parents could not get enough. The costumes alone were inspiring the French fashion designers to create clothes for the Parisian women. That was the spring of 1910. Now although Diaghilev did not have the money to maintain a troupe of dancers year-round he nonetheless convinced the Russian dancers to stay with him in Paris even though they would lose any security they would have as servants to the czar. In the spring of 1911 he presented the new Stravinsky [inaudible] ballet Petrushka as a vehicle for the rising superstar Vaslav Nijinsky. The next spring brought [inaudible] from Maurice Ravel. Ravel wisely ended his pseudo-Greek ballet with an orgiastic finale, one that owed a good deal to the Polovtsian dances which had already become an annual hit. This new score added a sighing and wordless chorus to the ever-rising passion and to top it off the dance orgy was built on the rhythmic figure in Five, 47 years before Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck shocked the jazz world with their Take Five. Here is Ravel's Orgy in Five.

[ Music ]

Whew! Okay, it's difficult enough to have an orgy but to count to five while you're-

[ Laughter ]

That's a challenge. That same spring in 1912 Diaghilev presented and for the very first time a ballet danced and choreographed by Nijinsky. The music Nijinsky chose was a 20-year-old orchestral score by Claude Debussy called the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn. Nijinsky, I should tell you, had been the first male dancer to give up the little skirt of modesty worn by all male ballet dancers up until a fateful night in 1911 when he danced Gisele without the little skirt in St. Petersburg before unfortunately Russia's dowager empress [laughter] displaying what one French writer called his [inaudible].

[ Laughter ]

He had been summarily dismissed from the Imperial Ballet. Now one year later he was in Paris dancing in the skin-colored leotard with dark patches on it that nonetheless made him look absolutely naked.

[ Music ]

Within a magnificent backdrop of trees and foliage Nijinsky created the two-dimensional dance in which Greek and Egyptian images seem to come to life. He found movement in the stillness of a frozen gesture. He never leapt in the air. He wore pointed ears, a small erect tail, and a bunch of grapes covering his genitalia. Half man, half goat creature dreaming sexual dreams and finding fulfillment on a rock lying face down on a diaphanous scarf left behind by one of the nymphs of the forest. The music was serene and ambiguous but the graphic gesture was quite the opposite. That in and of itself flew in the face of the basic tenant of music theater, the synchronization of music and gesture that Bogner [phonetic] insisted on in his operas and was what ballet and pantomime were after all all about. After opening night Nijinsky took out that last gesture and merely seemed to be taking a nap on the scarf. The publicity however- was fantastic. And so 100 years ago right now [inaudible] returned for the spring season of 1913 and at a brand-new theater the very modern [inaudible]. Everything was ready for the climax of a journey of creativity that would come crashing down one year later with the outbreak of the Great War, the war to end all wars, the war we sadly call World War I. But not yet, Paris was poised in the words of [inaudible] for an extravaganza that stunned the years and dazzled the eyes, an art form that awakened the creative spirit of spectators yearning to be astonished and transported. The[inaudible] signaled the end of old beliefs, old ways really in form, tone, manner and taste. Everything was new. Never before seen colors harmonized in shocking yet obvious parodies. There was a seductive show of physical strength, a new way of moving, a sensuality that dared to be lascivious. Temptation had become an art form. Opening night, May 15, 1913, the [inaudible] presented the world premiere of [inaudible] nestled between the Firebird and [inaudible] had music by Debussy, sets and costumes by Leon Bakst, and choreography by Nijinsky who also danced. The word [inaudible] means games in French. [Inaudible] was the first ballet to take place now. In fact Nijinsky wanted clothes not to look like they were from 1913 but from the future, from 1920.

[ Music ]

We are in park in London at sunset. A tennis ball bounces on stage and a young man dressed in tennis whites and a red tie leaps across the stage, racket in the air, to retrieve it.

[ Music ]

Two women also dressed for tennis enter the park. Are they there to play tennis or to share confidences? The man returns and for 18 minutes they pair up until all three in a passionate gesture perform a triple kiss.

[ Music ]

Their ecstasy is cruelly interrupted when another errant tennis ball bounces across the stage.

[ Music ]

Frightened they run off into the night.

[ Music ]

The choreography took Nijinsky further than his Fawn of the year before. Nijinsky's choreography employed gestures that came from playing tennis and froze them even though the music swirled onward. There were also elements from contemporary ballroom dancing in ballet of all things. Nijinsky created a symbolic representation of a modern world of possibilities revealed in the night in a public park by the unnatural light of electric light first being used in public parks at the time. Debussy had composed the somewhat inscrutable masterpiece, little wisps of melodies shimmer like fireflies and the pulsing rhythms are both from contemporary popular dances as well as the waltz rhythms of the recent past. The audience did not know quite what to think. The triple kiss however was enough to keep the work moderately scandalous. That is until two weeks later. On Thursday, May 29, a new ballet program was presented. It began with the serene and plotless dream called [inaudible] which had premiered in 1909 with Anna Pavlova dancing in a long white tutu as did the other girls in the company. Her partner, Vaslav Nijinsky, wore white tights and a black jacket. The music was by Chopin, orchestrated by [inaudible].

[ Music ]

After intermission came a world premiere of a new and highly anticipated ballet which was at one time called The Victim. The name in the program said [inaudible], the Rite of Spring, with a new score by Stravinsky, sets and costumes by [inaudible] who had given the company its Polovtsian dancers. [Inaudible] had also provided the story, a series of scenes from ancient Russia in which the elders of the tribe choose a virgin to dance herself to death to crown spring and add to this there was Nijinsky's choreography which was called his crime against grace.

[ Music ]

The ground shook. Countesses were indignant. History was made along with Stravinsky's world fame.

[ Music ]

The scandal was the first thing everyone talked about then and still talk about now and surely the totality of the event was simply too much. If only the choreography were more traditional. If only the music made sense or had a normal resolution. If indeed the story gave the public something to find consolation in, but no. When the Rite of Spring ends the girl is dead. We watch her dance to death. Her neck snaps, she falls, and the elders lift her body to the sky. Curtain. No remorse. No transformation.

[ Music ]

What would any composer have done with this material? Had there ever been a story that ends like this in Western theater, dance or music? Let's imagine for a moment a version in which we would feel sorry for the dead girl.

[ Music ]

[ Laughter ]

[ Music ]

Here's another possibility. Using music Stravinsky had composed two years earlier for his Firebird. In this version the girl does not die in vain. Imagine instead that once she falls the miracle of spring, rebirth happens before our eyes. The backdrop transforms to show us green fields. Slowly the sun rises, flowers bloom, and the warring tribes of his prehistoric [inaudible] sharks-

[ Music ]

Those wise old men who lead the world were correct all along. When the goddess of the earth is pleased with the sacrifice-

[ Music ]

But that's not how the Rite of Spring ended [laughter]. A few months after that riot took place at the [inaudible] the [inaudible] was once again performed in Paris but without the dance and without the story. As a concert piece it was a triumph. Stravinsky was carried through the streets with police protection. That was 1914, the year when the collective will of those young men who so supported the Rite of Spring and carried the composer through the night streets of Paris would most likely go to war and certainly without exception be dead from it. The war they all wanted so badly, Stravinsky himself thought that it would be a good and cleansing action. That war came to pass and 16 million would die and another 20 million would be wounded in one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. And when that war ended in 1918 a broken Nijinsky would perform a solo dance for a private gathering depicting the war in all its horror. Now I will dance you the war he said which you did not prevent and for which you are responsible. Debussy had just died from cancer. The designer and creator of the story of the Rite of Spring would live in New York where his art was exhibited and where he would found the American [inaudible] Yoga Society and Stravinsky would never write another Rite of Spring. He would live until 1971, 57 years to outlive his fame as he once said. Why did he never cash in on the sound that justifiably made him the most famous new voice in classical music? It is an unprecedented act of self-effacement. Has any artist ever done that before or since? I think he knew what he had done and the part he played in the run up to the Great War but that's just my guess. Stravinsky kept on composing of course. When he moved to America and lived at 1260 North Weatherly Drive in West Hollywood he would become an American citizen as well as a leader in a new identity that warped and commented on old musical styles called neoclassicism and then after Arnold Schernbeck's death in Los Angeles in 1951 he embraced the highly chromatic and controlled language of the 12-tone school. When he died at 88 there had been no new Rites and no successes to compare to that time, one hundred years ago on the eve of a war he thought would purify a continent. He went on to compose countless works, large and small, and became a witty and urbane commentator on the world around him, always striving to be young and at the edge of an ever-dwindling construct to describe new art, the concept of an avant-garde. Today we still talk of the Rite of Spring but audiences now, as during his lifetime, want to hear the Firebird. It ends our concerts and invariably gets a standing ovation. In 1918 just after the war ended Stravinsky seem to make a gesture toward the overwhelming sadness and guilt that engulfed Europe with a chamber piece about a soldier returning after the war to his girlfriend. It is a tale of a young man and his violin and the devil. Unlike the Rite of Spring which is scored for a gigantic orchestra of over 90 players this one is composed for a tiny band of seven plus a narrator and three dancers. It's called A Soldier's Tale and its symbolism could not be clearer.

>> The devil greets him at the frontier post. The soldier has had his day. For the devil holds the violin and he begins to play.

[ Music ]

>> Then comes the neoclassical period with Pulcinella.

[ Music ]

And Apollo.

[ Music ]

And then the late 12-tone period with [inaudible] from 1957.

[ Music ]

And in the last years a song.

[ Singing ]

Not with a bang but with a meow.

[ Laughter ]

And although it is common knowledge to say the Rite of Spring opened up a new world of music it is perhaps more likely to say it represents something more akin to the end of the road for the slow but inevitable acceptance of violence as a viable part of classical music's vocabulary, a vocabulary that had been building for centuries allowing music to express even without words happiness and tragedy, triumph, spirituality, nature, hope, love, longing, and sensuality, now violence was right there too. When did music start describing violent acts? Sure there are stabbings and poisonings and operas and here's one from Mozart.

[ Music ]

But no one ever described the reality of a violent act in notes. There were battle symphonies but those were about marches and cannons and triumphs, not about concussions and amputations, poison gas attacks, rape and pillage. It really I think starts with one moment in a Wagner opera when the giant [inaudible] bludgeons his brother [inaudible] on stage in [inaudible] before an aghast community of Gods. First heard in 1869 it goes like this.

[ Music ]

The young Richard Strauss tried a hand at what would otherwise be considered an obscenity. Let's talk about what the word obscene means. It comes from the Latin [inaudible]. It means offstage, something that should not be seen but reported on. Strauss in his first successful opera, [inaudible] which is based on Oscar Wilde's play, ends that opera and we see and hear the crushing to death of a teenage girl, [inaudible]. King Herod shouts kill that woman, [inaudible] and the music goes out of its way to use the highest registers of the clarinets squealing like a pig being butchered and the thundering of brass and percussion to end the opera.

[ Music ]

Now here certainly was an inspiration for Stravinsky who hated Strauss's music and knew every note of it. [Inaudible] was first heard in 1905 and within two years it had been produced by 50 opera houses. I would say that with [inaudible] violence officially became part of our 20th century musical lexicon, all of which led us to [inaudible] and then World War I. Strauss continued his descriptive powers in 1909 with the opera Elektra. Under the beneficent umbrella of an ancient Greek play by Euripides he described not one but two violent murders but in Greek fashion they take place [inaudible], offstage. The orchestra describes it. I think it's important to note that the title character then dances herself to death at the end. Sound familiar? But here's the difference. The murders are acts of purification, cleansing the house of Atrios. They are therefore justified just as the futurists and the young and restless men of Europe longed for a war of purification in which as Stravinsky said the world would be stronger because the weak would be destroyed. But here's the other difference. When Elektra dances herself to death the curtain does not immediately fall as in the Rite of Spring. Her body is discovered by her sister who calls out to their brother [inaudible] and when the curtain falls the final cord is C major, the most triumphant of triumphant chords.

[ Music ]

C major is the key of the King. Why do I say that? In the early days when trumpets could not easily be tuned and neither could timpani the key was always C for the timpani to be playing C and G and the trumpets in C, so traditionally C is the entrance of the King, the key of triumph. It is where Beethoven's fifth, that great journey from darkness to light ends. Here is the end of Strauss's Elektra and we give Beethoven's fifth the last word.

[ Music ]

And in case you didn't notice here's Strauss's description of Elektra dropping dead followed immediately by Stravinsky's version in the Rite of Spring.

[ Music ]

We know Stravinsky attended a performance of Elektra before he wrote The Rite and that is a moment where the two scores are practically identical. Curiously it is Beethoven who predicts the repeated chords of the sacre implying violence in the first movement of his Eroica Symphony. That symphony is Eroica about the hero, heroism and freedom, and it was originally written and dedicated to Napoleon who was after all a fierce warrior and became a symbol of freedom until he crowned himself as emperor and then Beethoven tore up his dedication. Was Beethoven telling us that freedom was something that could only be achieved through combat? Was he merely pounding his fists as Beethoven frequently did in his music insisting on the rights of man? After all he named the symphony Eroica not me. It's hard to know but here is that moment from the Eroica, mysterious moment from the first movement and we have superimposed some music by Stravinsky on it so you can hear what I mean.

[ Music ]

Ironically Debussy dreaded the violins that everyone knew was coming. He was also the source of Carl [inaudible] terror dreams, the ones that made him think he was indeed going crazy and when the war actually broke out Carl [inaudible] felt a eureka moment and he was sure that there was a universal will operating among all humanity desiring and insisting on this war. It became the so-called collective unconscious, a foundational basis for [inaudible] philosophy and psycho therapeutic approach to emotional and mental illness. Although it is little known Debussy composed another ballet at the time of [inaudible]. Commissioned by an English dancer named Maude Allen it is called Khamma. It was never performed during Debussy's lifetime. It tells the story of an Egyptian slave girl forced to dance before the statue of [inaudible], to break a devastating drought that has threatened the lives of the Egyptians. This score achieves its climactic moment when the slave girl is struck by lightning and dies achieving through her sacrifice the rains that will save the populace and here's how that sounds.

[ Music ]

The ending that follows includes a magnificent description of the arrival of the high priests and a blessing of the dead as the curtain falls, a very different [inaudible] to the tale of a sacrificial virgin in the Rite of Spring. The fact is no one, including as I said Stravinsky, ever wrote another Rite. Oh sure there are quotations in Puccini's 1924 opera [inaudible] and jokes from Gershwin in his piano concerto of the same year. There are many, as you know, noisy pieces, works with jagged rhythms, much of which was more a response to the war and its aftermath and not to the Rite of Spring. In those post World War I years no one, no one could go so deeply and without remorse into that world of thundering guilt free-violence again. But then something truly unpredictable happened. The conductor who brought Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to America in 1930, Leopold's [inaudible] went on to collaborate with Walt Disney to include it in an animated classical music feature called Fantasia released in 1940 during another world war. This time the violence was linked to visual images of the creation of the universe with exploding galaxies, volcanoes, earthquakes, and dinosaurs. Stravinsky was a resident of Los Angeles at that time and visited Disney Studios as they created this new visualization that removed the ritual death of a teenage girl from the story and from that moment forward the music of the Rite composed 30 years before became part of an American musical language for the stage and film. It's harmonic mash-ups and its pulsing rhythms can still be heard, not so much in our concert halls and ballet theaters, but in contemporary film scoring. Here are some examples of the post- Fantasia world of the Rite of Spring. In 1957 a Harvard-trained son of two Russian immigrants, who had by the way seen Fantasia when he was 22 years old, composed the score to a Broadway show that became an enormously successful film. A half century after the scandal at the [inaudible] this work brought the sound of Stravinsky's 1913 ballet to a world grappling with the tribal violence of our cities in the years following World War II. Here's a piece I call the Rite Side Story [laughter].

[ Music ]

[ Singing ]

[ Music ]

[ Singing ]

Now for those of you who don't know the Rite of Spring but know West Side Story let me tell you that was half-and-half, all right?

[ Laughter ]

Here in Hollywood the Rite became in the years following Fantasia the well from which new music was drawn. The epic scores describing violence, unknown worlds from the past, and yes, dinosaurs. Here is the final piece that I've put together for you. I call it the Rite of the Left Coast [laughter], sorry. Spanning the period from 1941, the year after Fantasia, until 1993, I had to stop somewhere, music by [inaudible] to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1941, John Williams for Star Wars 1976, Jurassic Park 1993, Jerry Goldsmith in Planet of the Apes 1968, and Bernard Herrmann in 1960 from well you will know. Here then is the world premiere presentation of the Rite on the Left Coast inspired and embedded in Stravinsky's the Rite of Spring after passing through the vessel of Disney animation and beginning with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I will put my hand up when it's Stravinsky. I'll put my hand down when it's not, okay [laughter]? Let's see if it'll play.

[ Music ]

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

[ Music ]

Rite of Spring.

[ Music ]

Rite of Spring.

[ Music ]

Jurassic Park.

[ Music ]

Rite of Spring.

[ Music ]

Bernard Herrmann, you'll know [laughter].

[ Music ]

Igor Stravinsky who never wrote another Rite of Spring also never wrote a film score though he lived in West Hollywood for 30 years, but 100 years after that earthshaking night in Paris we here in Los Angeles not only welcomed this great composer as one of ours, we also embraced his unique masterpiece and made it ours. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

I know it's late and I know I've overstayed my welcome but if you have some questions for me I'm happy to answer them. There's a question.

>> Thank you for a brilliant, inspiring, thoughtful, provocative, wonderful talk.

>> Wow, [laughter] thank you.

>> We loved it.

[ Applause ]

In early February the Joffrey ballet performed the Rite of Spring, a reconstructed, renovated version of it based on us much of the original as they could provide. It was stimulating and exciting also and I heard the lectures and the whole back to 1913, so then I wondered what happened? What was so exciting, what happened in 1913 which not only produced the Rite of Spring but also produced the Armory Art Show with the nude descending the staircase that shocked the world I think to the degree that Rite of Spring did. Do you have some thoughts on that?

>> Well I think part of my point here was that 1913 was the breaking point. I think, we can talk about it, it's 100 years ago, I think when 1900 happened there was an expectation that everything would change right away and as I said, so really that's a time you start to see Picasso, CÈzanne, you start to see art changing, you start to see literature changing, you start to see music moving, but there's a moment at the same time that there is a kind of also sexual ambiguity going on all over the place but there's also this tremendous urge to change the old way things were politically and with the war, so think about the outbreak of World War I, if you read about what happened when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, to this day there are very few people who can actually explain to you what everyone was fighting about. That's the sad thing about World War I. We know World War II, that's easier, much easier, but World War I why were the English fighting the Austrians? What was that about? There was this huge desire to change the way the world was run. Remember were going to have the Russian Revolution, you had a bunch of revolutions going on at that time and there was this impatience with the old way the world--, Europe was being run, kings, unfairness, the czar, and so I believe that part of this eruption was being predicted by the artists and some of them took part inevitably in this breakdown of the civilized society that caused something that they couldn't control. A lot of people thought World War I was going to last a few months and when it went on for four years and it was just a stalemate, people were just killing each other, you just had this massive thing happen and warfare changed because it started out as a personal war like other people where you bayonet at someone, you look them in the eye, now you had a cannon that could shoot a missile across the English Channel, you had warfare coming from planes and you had tanks so I do think in a funny way all of this is bound up in the same thing and I also think that's never why there was never another Rite of Spring. I think actually Stravinsky had to know that he was also like [inaudible] feeling the collective will for violence and once it actually happened it was so horrific that no one wanted to go there again. So that's what I think was happening and I think when you see the Joffrey recreation that is interesting. One of the problems with seeing it is that they frequently play it to a recorded orchestra so it doesn't have the same kind of thing and also it isn't preceded by Chopin. I mean why I played you what I played you was when I found out that they played [inaudible] remember we came to the [inaudible] they set it down. There was Anna Pavlova in this long white tutu, all the girls in these tutus, very beautiful, and one guy in his white thing and black and lifting her up and lah-de-dah and then intermission and that happened. You know putting that in the context of that it couldn't have been more confrontational. So I think that was part of it and by the way after the Rite of Spring, I mean no one talks about that, there was a third part of that night at the [inaudible]. It was then the Spectre of the Rose in which Nijinsky got to put on his rose outfit and then the Polovtsian dances, so it was quite a night, and not only--, there are 1900 seats in the [inaudible] but if everybody was there who claims to have been there there were about 50,000 [laughter]. Yes?

>> Again thank you also for your great speech and lecture. It was very interesting. So if Stravinsky was this great discover of what he scored and given the fact that we have been through 100 years of violence and the violence has like grown and gotten explosive in our everyday life now, where do you think the music of the future of the classical world is going and your thoughts on where could it possibly go?

>> Okay, okay, I have to come back for this one, that would be another couple of hours but-

[ Laughter ]

>> I mean-

>> I hear what you're saying but let me answer this question. I will answer this question in a slightly different way. One of the things I've learned from being chancellor is that when there's a problem at school, everyone in this room, when something goes wrong you kind of move into it, but here's what I learned at school. You go into it and if it's not getting better you back away from it, you get out of the room and look at it and if that's not working you get out of the house, if that's not working you cross the street, then you go to 30,000 feet. So the answer to your question about where is music going, the music never went anywhere. What's happened is the music that's defined as our music, as classical music, it's more the problem of definition. People have been writing beautiful music all the way through the 20th century and into the 21st century. I happen to be of the theory that the 20th century was the great romantic century, not the 19th century. There were horrified loonies who were writing romantic music but [laughter] all of you are old enough to know about the psychedelic era, when that first happen we were all going wait I'm not like that, and then it took about 20 years and everyone's wearing tie-dye this and that stuff. The fact is that all the way through the 20th century which I believe as I said was a romantic century, because that's the century in which in fact dreams came true. You said oh I'm mad at you so I wish I could kill you so that's when you developed the machinery, you had those wars. On the other hand I write a love song and I want everyone to hear it and I'll tell you when I thought about this. I was in a cab, if you can imagine, that to LAX so this was about 25 years ago and of course it took an hour or so to get from the Beverly Hills Hotel to LAX and the driver had a cassette--, that says how long ago--, a cassette of Frank Sinatra's greatest hits and for one hour it was one after another after another and I thought wait a minute. Every one of these love songs was written in the 20th century. More people have heard these love songs then ever heard anything from the many singers or from the Renaissance and all those things that we study in music and that wow how many love songs were written in the 20th century? And I realized at that point that while we tend to define music or even classical music in very small--, in a small little way, and we try to prove our theory by eliminating other music. You know if you were a physicist and you have a theory of the universe that eliminates 98% of the physical world you would never get that theory published, right? But in music we are taught that one kind of music is the music I'll call classical music. So in my lifetime Rachmaninoff went from being a hack to being now one of our accepted composers. Tchaikovsky was not admitted into the world of classical music until way later. He was writing emotional and beautiful music and I do believe that if we step back a bit and not define what is classical music by what you're hearing, that orchestra's program, and eliminate all the composers who are writing music that you might actually more want to hear, not that it's better or worse but in a style that you might want to hear, I think you'll find that the violence, the [inaudible], the kind of combining chords on top of each other which is basically what Stravinsky does in the Rite of Spring. He didn't use a system. He said that many times. He was making it up at the piano. This hand was playing E major and this hand was playing C7 and they didn't have anything to do with each other except one note was the same and you could play them separately and in fact you could, it was kind of nice, you could write a nice little piece that way. If I had a piano here I'd show you that, but when you played them together it's like oh, right? It's like pouring lemon juice in milk [laughter], you know they're fine separately but when you put them together it makes something really different, right? And so he was doing that or he would take a tune and make sure it was in the wrong key from the accompaniment. That's what he was doing all the way through the Rite of Spring and things are crashing on top of each other. Okay that is now a technique, so John Williams uses that. He's very smart. He knows that now when we hear this music we still think of dinosaurs not the girl dying because we don't see that badly but we all know the dinosaurs so of course it's going to be there. So when in Planet of the Apes it takes place in the future but it's the past, it's the future, it's the--, same thing. So he does that same thing but that's a technique. It's something that composers use but not all the time so again you might use lemon on your chicken or you might use yogurt but if you want to put them together you've got to be careful and so all those things so I don't think there's one definition of where classical music is going. I think it's there. I think it's how we define what we play and how we play it. When I do this concert in June I hope that the first half will kind of get you to the Rite of Spring. And here's the irony. The end of the first half of this concert we are just going to play the [inaudible] dance from the Rite of Spring, not the whole Rite of Spring, you're going to hear it all the time, don't be sad because [laughter]. The Rite of Spring would sit there like an elephant in the room, we wouldn't be able to play anything around it. You can have the Rite of Spring any old time you want but here you're going to--, here's why we're going to play the [inaudible] dance. This is a great irony? So sweet in a way. Stravinsky moves to Los Angeles. I mean the city he lives in more than any city in the world is this city and [inaudible] people here don't even know that. You know 30 years he lived here, probably his wife is at Ralph's buying frozen pizzas-

[ Laughter ]

And [inaudible] is running into Mrs. Schernbeck who is buying pizzas, right [laughter]? It's crazy. So the one part of Fantasia that's left out from the Rite of Spring is the sacral dance. It plays the Rite of Spring up to a certain point and then as the sun is setting it plays the opening again so it becomes kind of a cyclical piece. They left out this whole thing. In 1943 Stravinsky publishes a separate piece of music called The Sacral Dance which he arranges here in Los Angeles so that's the fulcrum of the concert. The fact that this piece is in the Rite of Spring from 1913, is re-published and re-edited here in Los Angeles as a separate piece, becomes the moment at the end of the first half of our concert that leads us into the second half of the concert with Psycho, Planet of the Apes and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Again, and then when I come back in the fall, we're going to celebrate the 200th birthday of Verdi and Wagner but Verdi and Wagner in Hollywood. Why would we here in Hollywood own Verdi and Walker? Well there are a lot of ways and that will be--, I just put that together, will announce it sometime or other--, so again it's about how you embrace the thing called music which is huge but I will say because of our delivery systems now you write something good the world will hear it. It's not going to be kept in a small box. I don't worry about the future, I only worry about what we call hardening of the categories, it's a disease [laughter], right? Open that up. Listen to it. Is it good music? Is it good? And as I've said many times just because you hear a piece and it sounds terrible don't assume it's good and the same thing-

[ Laughter ]

Conversely if you really like it don't be embarrassed it might actually be good. Any other questions? Probably I've got to go, they've probably got a class going for you here. I see, one more? One more. That's always dangerous. The lady in the balcony. I feel like King Kaiser, no one knows who he was [laughter].

>> Here's just a quick one. There are several music students here. Do you have any advice for the upcoming musicals [inaudible]?

>> Absolutely. Write what's in your heart, be who you are. You know I've worked with a lot of composers and a lot of conductors and here's the thing. The great ones have nothing in common except that they've been themselves and the mediocre ones are all the same. So be yourself ladies and gentlemen, that's the voice we want to hear, that's the unique force. Thank you all very much.

[ Applause ]

>> Thank you all for being with us this evening. Come back and see us on June 1 when John is here to conduct this exciting concert. He's already shared with you the [inaudible] Verdi plan that we've cooked up for next fall and he'll be back next season for two performances at the Valley Performing Arts Center so thank you for being with us and my goodness thank you John.

[ Applause ]