Maestro Eugene Ormandy
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 98 13:00:35 -0800
Subject: Maestro Eugene Ormandy
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The Wit of Maestro Eugene Ormandy
Compiled by Gary Berkson
Eugene Ormandy, during his many years as Music Director and Principal
Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, was known to blurt out a humorous
remark every now and then. The following is a collection of these witticisms
collected by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. If anyone knows of
others, please send them to me at email@example.com.
[Actually, some of these make perfect sense if you imagine them in the middle
of an orchestral rehearsal... -psl]
Congratulations to each and every one of you for the concert last night in
New York and vice versa.
Who is sitting in that empty chair?
I'm conducting slowly because I don't know the tempo.
I conduct faster so you can see my beat.
I cannot give it to you, so try to watch me.
I was trying to help you, so I was beating wrong.
I am thinking it right but beating it wrong.
I can conduct better than I count.
I guess you thought I was conducting, but I wasn't.
I purposely didn't do anything, and you were all behind.
Even when you are not playing you are holding me back.
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.
The notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.
I wrote it the right way, so it was copied the wrong way right. I mean the
right way wrong.
At every concert I've sensed a certain insecurity about the tempo. It's
clearly marked 80...uh, 69.
Watch me closely. Only one can spoil it.
Someone came in too sooner.
Start three bars before something.
Start at B. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.
Did you play? It sounded very good.
Intonation is important, especially when it's cold.
Beauty is less important than quality.
If you don't have it in your part, leave it out, because there's enough
Percussion a little louder. ("We don't have anything.") That's right. Play
More basses, because you are so far away.
I need one more bass less.
There are no woodwinds at number 6. ("We're at number 15.") I know. That is
(To a tubist:) Long note? Yes. Make it seem short.
Brass, stay down all summer.
Don't play louder, just give more.
Accelerando means in tempo. Don't rush.
I don't want to repeat this a hundred times. When you see crescendo, it
The tempo remains pp.
It's difficult to remember when you haven't played it before.
We can't hear the balance because the soloist is still on the airplane.
Please follow me because I have to follow him, and he isn't here.
Without him here, it is impossible to know how fast he will play it,
With us tonight is William Warfield, who is with us tonight.
He is a wonderful man, and so is his wife.
Bizet was a very young man when he wrote this symphony, so play it soft.
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. It's named Blumine, which has
something to do with flowers.
(On the death of David Oistrakh:) I told him he'd have a heart attack a year
ago, but unfortunately he lived a year longer.
Serkin was so sick he almost died for three days.
(On William Kapell's death:) Death is a terrible thing. I don't believe in
This is a very democratic organization, so let's take a vote. All those who
disagree with me, raise their hands.
It's all very well to have principles, but when it comes to money, you have
to be flexible.
Thank you for your cooperation, and vice versa.
I mean what I meant.
I never say what I mean, but I always manage to say something similar.
I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to.
Relax, don't be nervous. My God, it's the Philadelphia Orchestra.
© 1998 Peter Langston