Conductor Zubin Mehta
Two Conversations with
|Zubin Mehta is one of the
world`s leading conductors. He is a vivid symbol of today`s
cross-cultural world and a living proof of the power of music to bridge
different cultures and to break social and political barriers.
His tremendous sense of social responsibility has taken his music from
India to Buchenwald - from Sarajevo to the Palestinian territories. He
has sought to develop the universal appeal of music and through it to
bring peace and comfort to all areas of the world.
His contribution to today`s music world is so valuable, that it can be
said that he is one of its main "designers". Not only was he music
director of some of the world`s leading orchestras/opera houses,
encompassing three continents (New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Munich,
Florence, Israel) and 50 years of constant, highly intensive activity;
but most probably he is the music director, who has given more
opportunities for young artists (soloists, conductors, composers) in
debut performances, than any other figure of his stature.
Mehta was born in Bombay, India, into a Parsee family in April 1936,
the son of Mehli Mehta who founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and
who was a violinist and his wife Tehmina Mehta.
At the age of 18 Zubin Mehta moved to Vienna to study conducting with
the eminent teacher Hans Swarovsky. At the age of 22, four years after
his arrival in Vienna he made his conducting debut and the same year he
won the International Conducting Competition in Liverpool and shortly
thereafter the Koussevitsky competition in Tanglewood. Zubin's early
success led him to be appointed assistant conductor and then Music
Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Still only in his
twenties, he had already conducted the Vienna Philharmonic and the
Berlin Philharmonic - two of the greatest orchestras in the world.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Mr. Mehta Music Advisor in
1969, Music Director in 1977, and Music Director for Life in 1981.
Since 1986, he has also acted as Music Advisor and Chief Conductor of
the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the summer festival in Florence, Italy
For more information about Zubin Mehta, visit his official website.
In the early 1990s, Mehta was in Chicago each year to conduct a new
production of The Ring with
Lyric Opera of Chicago. There was one opera per year for three
seasons, then in the fourth season was the fourth opera plus complete
cycles. In 1993 and 1996, the conductor took time from his very
busy schedule to speak with me. The conversations ranged far and
wide in the musical realm, and we begin with that first interview . . .
both concerts and opera. Aside from the obvious, what are the
differences between conducting a symphony and conducting an opera?
Shall I say the obvious is first? No singers in the
symphony! [Both laugh]
BD: Is that
good or bad?
ZM: The way I
meant it now, it’s good!
course, there must be then a third option
because you have oratorios and Beethoven Ninths and other concert things
ZM: Yes, but those
are not the singers I meant. It shouldn’t sound that derogatory
because we have singers of such fine quality today. I’m talking
about from the musical standpoint, because there have been always great
voices. There’s never been a generation without great voices.
BD: Are the
great voices today comparable to
the great voices of yesterday?
Voice-wise, yes, and in some cases they are
even better musicians. So, from the conductor’s point of view,
especially in Italy, it’s becoming a blessing. The new Italian
singers are so well trained
musically that it’s a pleasure, especially in the Mozart category.
BD: Is this
because the American singers have always been
known as having the great training?
ZM: Yes, very
good preparation; German singers,
too. But even amongst American and Germans you have
the odd maverick. [Both laugh]
BD: The odd
maverick good, and the odd
ZM: Yeah and
yeah. No, the basic standard is quite high. As
usual, we have a dearth of Heldentenors, of Tristans. We find one
a generation almost. So that’s always lacking and
always has lacked, because it’s obviously a throat sickness [laughs]
to be able to sing Siegfried and Tristan.
BD: And to be
able to sing it more than once!
BD: I would
assume that most tenors could get
through it once, and then that would be the end of their career.
depends on also which conductors they
sing it with. Conductors have to nurture these voices and help
them from the pit, and not suffocate them.
BD: I assume
then you’re conscious of this every
moment that you’re standing in the pit?
ZM: All the
time. We have to be.
BD: Are you,
as the conductor, really in the best
place to balance, being right in front of the orchestra and
away from the singers?
depends on the opera house — sometimes
yes; sometimes not. [Both laugh] In the Vienna Opera for
instance, the pit is so
high that we get such a blast from the orchestra, which is of course
Vienna Philharmonic, it’s very tempting not to tell them to play out
that much because it sounds so beautiful. But we have to!
Otherwise, we don’t hear
the stage and the audience surely doesn’t hear them. At the Lyric
here, the balance situation is ideal because the orchestra at times is
even too weak from the acoustic point of view.
BD: So you
let them play out?
yes! The strings, mostly. I like
the strings to play out here.
people are talking about perhaps using throat microphones to sweeten
the sound of the voice just a
little. Do you ever want to get involved in this idea?
there is no limit. One
doesn’t like being a purist for the sake of being a conservative, but
when you start with that, then there’ll always be a singer who’ll bring
it up a notch and bring it down, and then you’ll have to say, “During
the second act finale of Aïda,
I want more,” but then it’s like
doing a record production and I think that’s too dangerous.
BD: Since you
have brought it up, let me ask about recordings. Do you
conduct the same in the recording studio as you do in the concert hall
or the opera house?
Almost. Yes. Whether I’m doing
opera or symphony, I like to balance myself. I grew up with a
two-track recording system with Decca/London Records, even though
multi-track was very fashionable in
the sixties already. Karajan used to take the tapes
home and play around with them, with the result you could never really
perform the way some of his recordings sound because it’s unnatural
from that point of view, not from playing or interpretation. The
tempo was always, let’s say, his tempo. That you can’t argue
with, but some of the balances were completely irrational, and
you couldn’t play with that much clarity, or that soft or that loud,
BD: Does it
become a fraud then, or just a different
ZM: It is
some sort of fraud because that
can’t be reproduced on the stage.
BD: But you
don’t think the recording medium is a different art form?
I don’t want it to be! I want the
recording to sound the way my concert sounds. A lot of the
recording engineers are very
grateful to me for that, because then they say, “We are
reproducing faithfully what you are giving us.” In other words,
it’s my balance. If I can’t hear the second violins on the
playback, I go and fix it in the studio. I don’t tell them, “Give
me more second violins.” But some of my colleagues do that.
They sit in listening booths and say,
“Give me more second flute. Give me more this, give me more
that.” In other words they play mezzo
forte and the engineer
does the rest. I don’t like that!
Sometimes we have the luxury, when we hear a complete
first edit but we don’t have the orchestra
anymore to say, “I didn’t balance the clarinet’s
little voice. Please help me there.” Those little fine
tunings we do.
BD: Just a
ZM: Yes, yes,
come back to the purely musical side of all
of this rather than the engineering side. When you’re working
with a group, either the opera or the symphony, is all of your work
done in the rehearsal, or do you leave something, some spark for that
night of performance?
ZM: All the
technical work is done, of
course, at rehearsal. All the construction is done; it’s my
obligation. With soloists
it’s different, but with a string section, if they don’t feel the
phrase where it starts, where it has its high point, we have to point
that out. All that has to be done in the rehearsal. The
question of tension arises at the concert, which I purposely don’t
do at rehearsals. You can’t give all the punch
lines out. In the rehearsal I sit down and quietly go through
high points. I let it build up, and a lot of the
intimate high points have to be really rehearsed, of course. You
can’t just do that only at the concert. But with an orchestra
like the Israel Philharmonic, that I am so at home with, we
hardly work at development sections of classical
symphonies. We let that blossom at the concert. Of course,
it is taken for granted that they knew the
notes and it’s perfectly in tune and rhythmically accurate, all
So with me a lot happens at the concert.
BD: I assume
that an orchestra on the level of the
Israel Philharmonic or the Vienna Philharmonic, or New York or Los
Angeles, these top flight orchestras, you really don’t have to
worry about technical problems such as pitch and duration, or even
phrasing. You can begin working on the musical
Well... [Laughs] It depends. You know, for Don
Juan of Strauss there’s no orchestra in the world that you don’t
to rehearse; The Marriage of Figaro
Overture you have to
rehearse! Things like that.
BD: Just for
the tricky string passages?
ZM: Oh yes,
because they have played these works with different
conductors. One takes it at breakneck speed, the other one takes
it slow because he wants to hear every note. Musicians are at a
great disadvantage with some of my colleagues, and with myself included
in that! They don’t know what’s going to happen. Therefore,
one has to sit down and work at it.
BD: Is there
ever a chance that either a symphony or
an opera can get over-rehearsed?
ZM: Not in
the West. [Both laugh] Over-rehearsing happened in the
where without any unions until the break-up, conductors just used
to do with the musicians’ time whatever they wanted.
BD: And they
could demand as much time as
ZM: Oh yeah,
they were the boss; they were the
tsars! Musicians had practically no say. I know it from the
fact that some of them emigrated to Israel and were given jobs.
One conductor did twenty-four rehearsals on the Beethoven Fourth
Symphony. I heard the result and of course they played
together and in tune, but it was a dry piece of bone! He had
taken out every sentiment, every
BD: Was this
his idea or just his result?
the way he grew up, he said. It’s
the way they rehearse in Russia!
BD: How can
you combat this?
ZM: Oh well,
we never have enough time.
Never. Therefore we have to be much more organized at
rehearsals. That’s what I keep on telling my friends the stage
directors, who have all the time in the world. I’m
not talking of anybody in particular; I’m talking of all of them.
BD: A blanket
statement! If they come as prepared with their conception as
we come, they would not need all that time. Let’s say they have a
month of rehearsing. From the first
rehearsal to the last rehearsal it is completely an about face!
The first week we had one version of his staging. The second week it’s
another version, and it keeps on changing. I, as a conductor,
interfere too, so he changes. Some of the singers have comments,
so he changes.
BD: If he
keeps changing, does it keep
ZM: Let’s say
there’s an evolution. [Both laugh] When do we really
During the last week, when everything’s functioning! Even if I
agree with everything that’s going on, I feel, “Why
didn’t he do that four weeks ago?” Four weeks ago he had a
completely different idea! He could have come the last
week with this idea and put it together because the singers know their
roles and they don’t really need all that time to rehearse on
BD: But the
stage director must be more than just a
know! But even the traffic changes!
That’s what my point is.
BD: If he has
four weeks, you say he
should have come the last week. If he’d had six weeks, would it
be yet another two weeks’ difference?
Obviously, and there have been great directors who
sometimes use the time well, like in East Berlin in the Communist
times, there was
a great stage director named Walter Felsenstein. He used to
rehearse and rehearse. I was never at his rehearsals, but the
magical! I don’t know in his case how
he started, but to see the Janacek opera The
Cunning Vixen? was just magical on stage! I saw a
great Otello. The only
thing is that because he demanded so much
time, no good singer would give that time, so the singing level in his
too bad because it would be interesting to match the high
level of singing with the high level of production.
sure. But you can’t get, say,
Placido Domingo for seven weeks before a premiere of Otello.
BD: You can
hardly get him for seven days before!
BD: You are
the stage directors changing their ideas. Is there ever a case
where you come with an idea to a symphony concert and then
change it in the middle of rehearsals because you find out or discover
something new either with that orchestra or within yourself?
ZM: Never a
ground concept; never a basic concept. The basic concept,
of course, has been worked out within me with my knowledge of style,
tempo, composer’s handwriting, everything. However, a four-bar
phrase played by a certain woodwind soloist can
completely convince me that’s another way of doing it! I’m
flexible, completely open.
BD: Then do
you take that phrase to another
orchestra, or do you leave that as the special property of that player?
I live with these axioms.
That’s why I miss the New York Philharmonic so much! Some of the
things I heard for thirteen years,
especially when played by the soloists of that orchestra, from that
point of view have been the high point of my life. I
don’t hear them played as well anywhere!
BD: I would
think that some of
these things would transfer from one orchestra to another, at least
the same level.
ZM: No, no,
I’m talking of individual achievements. There are certain things,
certain level that has been established in my remembrance of the way
certain first trumpet passages should be played, which I’ve never heard
before or after as well, as with the first trumpet of the New York
Philharmonic, just to give you an example.
BD: So what
happens when you come
to the Chicago Symphony and Adolph Herseth plays that phrase even
ZM: I am very
grateful! I’ve learned something!
BD: Are there
times when you’re studying that you
throw out the old scores and just start re-digging into a piece of
music with a clean score?
happens many times because I couldn’t
even find my old score. [Both laugh] Just the other day I
went to Pierre’s interpretation of the Bluebeard, which I adored. I
that piece for over twenty years and I don’t know where that score
is. I’m going to do it in Florence this May, so I
have to start from scratch.
BD: Will you
have some of Boulez’s
ideas in your ear, or will you just work directly from the page?
ZM: He was so
faithful to the score! I went
with a borrowed score to the concert, and everything was
crystal clear. I learned a lot. In fact, I asked him if I
can just come and sit when he records it.
I need that refresher course also.
BD: [With a
sly nudge] You’re cramming for your own
ZM: Mm-hm. I
love going to colleagues’
rehearsals and listening. I used to go a lot to Lenny’s
rehearsals in Vienna because in the sixties and even seventies the
Vienna Philharmonic didn’t know all
the Mahler symphonies. I remember the Mahler Seventh. They
were sight reading like school children, and sitting at those
rehearsals, I learned a lot!
BD: You would
rather sit in and listen from the
back, rather than pick up your bass and play in the
ZM: From that
point of view, it’s better to
BD: Do you
encourage colleagues both young and old to
sit in on your rehearsals?
ZM: I don’t
mind at all. Very rarely do I ask
students to stay out. I just don’t like it when people come and
then gossip. There are a certain amount of exchanges
between conductor and orchestra, that if it’s misquoted on the outside,
it can be damaging all around.
advice do you
have for the next generation of conductors coming along?
ZM: The same
advice I got in Vienna when I went to Eduard van Beinum, the great
Dutch conductor. I
said to him, “I have a paper from the Vienna Academy that
says I’m a conductor. What do I do now?” He took me by
my shoulders, he shook me and he said, “Now you swim.” [Both
laugh] Really, everybody wants so much
help! In my case, my only help was the first time somebody gave
me a chance, and it was my achievement during that first concert that I
was invited again. Nobody gives you that second chance.
BD: You have
to make the most of the opportunity.
ZM: You have
to convince a hundred people that they
want to see you again.
BD: Are you
convincing a hundred people in
front of you, or two thousand people behind you?
ZM: No, first
the hundred people in front. It has never happened with me that
an orchestra just
doesn’t like to play under me, but I’ve had this great success and was
invited back. It never happens. I’ve been music director of
several orchestras now in the last thirty years. If the orchestra
does not like to play with the conductor, I don’t call him back.
And if they like the person and he has not had a
tremendous success, I do invite him back.
BD: Once they
have the paper from some academy, at what
point can they call themselves “conductor”?
ZM: It’s a
question of experience, and
it’s a vicious circle. So you have to give young people a
chance. Word of mouth is very important for me. If
a colleague tells me, “I’ve seen this young kid and I think he
should be given a chance,” I feel much better about it because
everybody sends you
their good reviews.
BD: Is it
true that almost any conductor
could play in front of a great orchestra because the great orchestra
is already great, but it would be better to put a young conductor in
front of a lesser orchestra to see what he can build?
Both. You’re absolutely right; both have to go hand in
hand. Sometimes of course, a young
conductor gets only the semi-professional chance, which he should build
up by himself until he gets the opportunity. I was fortunate
to have both these simultaneously. I started my career in
Yugoslavia and Norway. Colleagues of mine in my class in Vienna,
were already conductors in those countries, would invite me. I
was about ten years younger than them, and they
saw me and liked what I did, and then they would call me again.
So those were
extremities of the musical world in the late fifties and early
where you go to make your mistakes?
well, sure! I will still make mistakes! I’m talking of
musical mistakes. I was very
confident because I had a very solid musical training in Vienna, and I
didn’t venture out of that repertoire in the beginning. I kept to
the repertoire I was trained in. That was the Viennese School.
absolutely. From Haydn to Strauss; Mahler, not too much.
It’s a misconception that Mahler is considered a
Viennese specialist. Mahler was an adopted Viennese, but
basically until Lenny came to Vienna and started insisting on doing
the big Mahler symphonies, Mahler was not popular at all in
Vienna. People put Mahler and Bruckner in
one cup, but it’s just not right. Bruckner is the Austrian
staple, not Mahler. Today, Mahler is a popular composer in
Vienna like everywhere else, but it never used to
be. I did the Mahler Tenth
Adagio with the Vienna
Philharmonic and it was the first time they had ever played
it. They didn’t like it. They kept on making remarks, even
some of them quite anti-Semitic.
BD: Let me
ask, perhaps, a facetious question. Was Bruckner the first
[Laughs] No. Bruckner has one twentieth
century parallel, and that’s Messiaen. He was not a
minimalist. Messiaen was in love with Christianity, Catholicism,
nature, length, and was an organist. I told that to Messiaen and
disagree. He didn’t know Bruckner at all!
BD: You have
or even four-hundred years of music to choose from. How do you
decide which pieces you will learn and conduct, and which pieces you
will turn aside and not bother with?
ZM: This is
such a perpetual motion. At this very moment I can’t wait to do
once in my life
Parsifal. So you see, I
already know what I want to do in the
next ten years. There was a time it was The Ring. There was
a time years ago, it was the G Minor
Symphony. I always knew a certain amount of repertoire,
but there were
things I was dying to do that I was reticent! I could have always
done the G Minor Symphony of
Mozart and the Eroica, but I
on the back burner and kept on studying them. They were
mountains that I was afraid to climb, frankly, and I kept
not wanting to record for a long time.
BD: Now when you
climb some of these mountains, you
look over and you see the other peaks. Do you discover peaks that
you didn’t know were there and other mountains that you want to
Yes. The minute you accomplish one, then
you want to go to the other. It is like peaks, yes.
BD: But is it
like peaks that you
have to then come down the side and go up the other side, or can you go
right from peak to peak?
ZM: No, you
can’t! [Laughs] You have to start each
one from scratch; there’s no doubt. Not from sea level, but for
instance, I can’t say I know all the Haydn symphonies. I
don’t. I know maybe twenty-five Haydn symphonies.
BD: So if
you’re presented with one hundred and
four, how do you decide which twenty-five you will do?
ZM: During my
student years we learned a
certain amount. Then I played a certain amount in the
orchestra. I also played masses. Then when you make
programs, you say, “What fits in there?” Maybe an
early Haydn symphony will work more than a late, so then you look for
Haydn symphony. That’s how it happens, really.
Okay. Now let’s go forward. You do
some new music. How do you decide which scores you will present,
presumably not having heard them?
ZM: This is a
problem. The problem is also when
you commission because nobody has ever commissioned a
masterpiece. I once commissioned a piece for the opening
of the Los Angeles Music Center, and when I got the score and we read
it through, nobody liked it. But I still performed it.
up to me after the concert and said, “You paid the composer. You
don’t have to perform it. If you didn’t pay him you’re at fault,
paid him.” I said, “No. I’m obliged.” He also
happened to be a friend, and I performed it. Sometimes you
through commissions, some great pieces.
BD: Is there
any real way,
even through rehearsal, of telling if a piece is going to be
great? Doesn’t it have to actually get heard a few times?
with modern music, one almost has to do some
research before you event attempt. Everyone figures out
his own system, his own kind of notation. I love for the composer
to be at the rehearsals. I love it. If the
composer then helps me, I even love it more. I’ll be very
frank — many composers do not help you at the
They don’t know their score as well as you think they do, or they
BD: By not
helping, are you saying they do
nothing, or do they hinder?
ZM: No, they
don’t hinder. They just don’t
listen. They don’t even listen. They’re supposed to know
their piece inside out, right?
than I do, at least. I’ve looked
through it. I’ve studied it as much as I can, but they’re the
ones who created it. But I find sometimes I know the piece in a
little bit more in detail than they do!
you’ve come at it from a different angle.
ZM: Yes, but
I get impatient with these
composers. When I show a composer page fifty-seven and I say,
“Please sing me this theme,” I don’t want note perfection, because
those themes, let’s say, are quite esoteric. At least I want
him to sing me the tempo, but when I see him turning three pages
back to look at his own metronome, then of course I lose respect.
This also happens with famous composers. When I turn around in
front of the orchestra to the man who’s
sitting and I say, “Please, tell me about this or that,” and he has
nothing to say, then the orchestra loses respect. Again, I must
speak about Messiaen. He
knew every note of every score he wrote. He could go on the piano
and play it for you, and then he was very critical. We were very
close friends; he was like a father figure. He must
have sat through at least four different creations of the Turnangalila
Symphony that I did. He was critical to the last movement,
last note! [Laughs]
BD: Helpful critical?
Very. Very! I really liked it. Sometimes his wife,
who would play piano in the orchestra,
would disagree with him. She would like my tempo because it was a
practical, musician’s tempo, and his is idealistic.
you try to approach his tempo?
yes! I did, always.
BD: So are
you trying then to strike a balance
between the practicality and the ideal?
ZM: Most of
the time it works out quite
well. In the case of Messiaen, some of his metronomes are so slow
that the bows are not long enough to play those notes, and nobody’s
lungs are made to hold a phrase that long!
back to what we were
talking about earlier, if that was the tempo that he really wanted,
could you go into a recording control room and splice in a few extra
[Laughs] No, we can’t do that. We could try it, though, but
in the end, he never complained. Some of his movements, on
the other hand, are so fast such as some of his birds in Et expecto. He has written
movements that are even impossible to beat because it changes
the rhythms every bar. And he wants it so fast because he knows
the speed the bird sang!
BD: So he’s
trying to reproduce it?
absolutely. He used to go into the forest and the
jungles and write down these bird calls in obscure islands off the
coast of New Guinea. He’d talk about little islands off the
coast of New Caledonia! First of all, we had to find where New
[Laughs] It’s just a fly speck itself!
ZM: And he
knows the island off the coast of New
BD: Does this
something that the ordinary musician in the orchestra can understand?
bird is notated in every orchestra
part. I’ve not done too much of the music of Pierre Boulez, but
whenever he’s present he has helped a lot. He hears
perfectly his music.
BD: He has
probably the best ear around.
ZM: Yes, but
he knows what he has written, and
he knows, as a conductor, how to get it out. So he helps
worked with Messiaen and with a number of other composers. Does
this influence how
you will work with a composer you have never met, such as Beethoven or
Schubert, or even Mahler?
Yeah. I would have loved to have Mahler at
a rehearsal, because he is so personal and so
folkloristic. On the other hand, from the Wagnerian point of
view, in some of his adagios he goes so deep into your soul. So
Mahler has in one symphony a spectrum of everything.
BD: Do you as
a conductor notice his scores
being different because he was also a first-class conductor?
ZM: Yes, because he
kept on changing. There are
so many versions of the Second
Symphony. His changes came about from his rehearsing
the symphonies with different orchestras. We
have scores in the New York Philharmonic library notated by him, and if
you go to Prague you find his red ink notations even in orchestra parts.
BD: So which
of these versions is correct?
ZM: They are
all valid. And then you have him
playing excerpts on piano rolls! There you see what freedom he
took with his
music, because some of us, myself included, see the note as
being holy, and the composer was so extemporizing!
There’s a piano roll of him playing the First Symphony. My
God! This is like a piece of Chopin, it’s so free!
BD: Would you
ever in the world try to play it that way?
ZM: We try
now that we’ve heard it, but it’s difficult with an orchestra to have
it that full of
BD: Let me
ask the big philosophical question.
What’s the purpose of music?
ZM: With me,
language. I speak quite a few languages, and there is
no language that speaks to me as clearly as the language of
music. Therefore, if I take for granted that my giving this
language forth through the orchestra to the public indicates some
sort of message, that is the purpose. You can look at the most
beautiful painting and the most incredible
statue or an architectural wonder, and yet you hear the Eroica or
you hear the B Minor Mass.
There is another dimension which I cannot describe! It’s what you
can’t see and what you cannot
touch, and yet it completely stirs you emotionally.
ZM: Most of
the time. When I see that colleagues are involved, I don’t even
mind sometimes if
the level is lower than another orchestra’s level. If they are
involved, if they are giving their all, I find it more fun than a great
orchestra who sits back and says, “We are So-and-So. Admire us
what we are,” and nothing happens musically.
BD: Then it
of a very high standard, but it doesn’t
touch the soul! Just to illustrate the point, a couple of years
ago I took the Florence
orchestra on a tour of South America.
The Florence Orchestra is a good European orchestra. For the last
eight or nine years I’ve been bringing in many foreign
musicians to fill in the holes in the orchestra, and
it’s become quite an even-handed ensemble now. So we went to
South America. I’ve been to South America with my orchestras from
New York and Israel, and had wonderful times with both
success that this Florence orchestra had was not to be compared to the
other two! They were coming out of the
footlights; they were sitting at the end of their chairs. That
was the first big tour of their lives. They wanted to come back,
maybe. They wanted to prove something, and the public went
crazy! The quality was not of the other two
orchestras, and yet the public who doesn’t really
understand the difference of those fine points of the
quality didn’t care! They didn’t care that the brass or the
strings or the woodwinds of the Florence
Orchestra was not like the New York Philharmonic, and let me tell
you, as a professional you can’t even compare it! But the
combined impression given from the stage was one of
such involvement, and some love for what they were doing, that the
public just burst every night!
BD: That’s a great
Yes! And this is what is fun!
BD: Thank you
so very much for speaking with me
today. I appreciate it.
ZM: It’s a
-- -- -- -- --
We met again on Leap Day of 1996. As we were getting
started, he mentioned that in two years he was going to become the
Music Director of the Munich Opera . . . . . . .
BD: Is that
where Everding was? [See my Interview with August
ZM: He has a
theater called The Prinzregententheater,
but he used to be Intendant of the Munich opera (1977-82), and then
over to be Intendant (1982-93; he had been Music Director since 1971).
So you’re getting back into the opera again
after so many years of symphony?
never been music
director of an opera house.
you’ve been always involved in it.
I’ve always done opera.
BD: Is it
that major conducting figures play hopscotch
all over the world, being music director here for a while then music
director there for a while?
ZM: What do
you mean, ‘for a while’? In my
case I was sixteen years in LA, thirteen in New York, and it’s
years in Israel. So that’s not just passing through.
BD: No, you
have spent good chunks of time in these places.
ZM: For me,
yeah. There are colleagues, though,
who do five-year stints in different places. I don’t know their
reason or whether they have anything to do with it. [Laughs]
BD: Is the
era of the forty-year music director
ZM: Well, as
I say, I’m still going strong in Israel, and leaving both orchestras,
Los Angeles and New
York, was my decision. I think today one has to consider
traveling facilities. Half of the career of the
forty-year music directors was before the jet was invented. Don’t
forget that. If you offered Koussevitzky a jet airplane, and
also in many cases private airplanes, would he have stayed in Boston
that long? It’s a hypothetical situation we
create, but still, one has to consider that.
at it from both directions, you’ve been music director of orchestras
and now an
opera house, and you’ve been guest conductor all over the world.
What are the basic differences, when doing the music, between those two
ZM: As I
said, I’ve never been a music director of an
opera house. I’m going to start that venture in 1998 in Munich at
the Bavarian State Opera. At the age of sixty-two, I’m going to
be for the
first time in my life a civil servant! In fact, my immediate
boss, when I’m Music
Director, is the Minister of
Culture of Bavaria. I don’t know what the situation is
like; I don’t know how I am going to adjust.
BD: Then let’s talk
the symphony. You’ve been music director in Los Angeles and New
Israel, but you guest conduct all over the place.
not entirely true. I guest
conduct only in Vienna and Berlin.
BD: You guest
conduct here in Chicago!
ZM: That’s an
operatic project. Next year I’m coming for two weeks to the
Symphony, but really I’m not one of those people who
guest conduct too much.
BD: You don’t
want to be that peripatetic?
ZM: No, no,
no. I never have been, never.
I travel a lot with my orchestra, whether it was New York or now in
Israel. In Israel, we do sometimes three tours a year. This
I love! I love going to various places with my
orchestra with my rehearsed interpretations. I never have had the
attraction to go
from one great symphony orchestra to another great symphony
orchestra and do the same program. I never
repeat programs because then I start comparing. If I went to the
Vienna Philharmonic and did the Bruckner
Eighth, and next week went to
Berlin and did the same piece, I
think I would suffer. The music would suffer, too.
BD: Tell me
the joys and sorrows of
touring with an orchestra.
ZM: I have
only joys, I must say. Some
orchestra members don’t like to do a tour too much, because their wives
don’t like it, first of all. We have now a sort of an unwritten
law in Israel
that we don’t do tours longer than five weeks at a time. Some
orchestras have even less. We always promise ourselves that
we’ll go only for a month, but by the time the tour comes about, so
many other invitations come in that are too tempting, so it becomes
five weeks. We recently went to
Japan, China and India and it became six weeks. I think my
longest tour was with the
Los Angeles Philharmonic back in 1967, which was a nine-week world
tour. But I must tell you, it was so early also in the
orchestra’s history of touring that at that point nobody
complained. Besides, we not only played the capitals of Europe,
but we played in exotic places like Cypress and Istanbul, and we played
for the coronation of the Shah of Iran. Then we finally ended
up in my country. It was my official debut in India, so the
orchestra was very anxious for that also.
BD: Did the
nine-week tour cure them of wanting to go?
ZM: No, but
we had a lot of absenteeism after the
tour! [Both laugh] They suddenly felt sick and tired.
BD: On any
you have several programs. How do you keep each of those programs
ZM: Only by
not repeating too much along the way. It
would be very tempting, or very easy in some sense, to go only with two
programs, but that really becomes boring. I cannot keep my
interest nor the
orchestra’s interest if we played, let’s say, a Dvořák symphony
Brahms symphony on the whole tour. I really
envy the staying power of some of these musical comedy people.
BD: They do eight
performances of the same show a week.
ZM: I once
asked Lauren Bacall, “How do you do it month after month?”
BD: I assume
that’s when they get the little pranks
up each night.
ZM: I guess,
but you can’t compare the
classic aspect of a musical comedy to the classic aspect of an Eroica,
you know. We can’t reproduce it every night with
the same fervor, week after week. I couldn’t do it.
BD: When you
do a subscription symphony concert, it’s going to be three or four or
five or maybe even
six performances. Can you keep all six up to the highest level?
Yes. That’s good, but that’s also good for
the orchestra. That builds repertoire. What happens in
England is that we rehearse
and rehearse and then play one concert. This concert, of
course, has a lot of tension because it is only one time, but I
don’t know how much stays then.
BD: It’d be
better to do it two or three
ZM: Oh, yes,
of course. In Israel we repeat six
to eight times, but when we take up the piece after three or four
seasons, it is there.
BD: Then you
don’t need as much
ZM: Not as
much, no. There are
always new people, and there’s always new ideas from the conductor,
too. And we have a rotation within the orchestra, so maybe the
last time there was a different first horn playing
it, so we have to always rehearse. But this is musical
matter and interpretation and listening. Fine orchestral
players are fine listeners of one another, too. I encourage that
a lot, and in Israel we
have really a conglomeration of chamber music players. So
they are very listening-conscious. They are also very
opinionated, because in chamber music they decide themselves what the
tempo is so they question you a lot. [Laughs]
BD: Do you
ever have any fights with the orchestra about
No. There are discussions, and my door is always open. I am
very pleased when a musician comes
up and says, “Why?”
BD: But at
some point you have to make the decision,
and that is what it is.
ZM: During a
rehearsal, I’m the one who
makes the decision about the tempo, but even within the rehearsal
anyone can say to me, “Give me a little more time on this
phrase.” So I do that gladly, but I can’t diametrically change my
BD: When you
come back to a piece after
ten or twenty or perhaps even thirty years, has your concept of the
piece changed at all, or radically?
ZM: I don’t
find it changing. I find details
emerging that I didn’t know or notice, or there will be something I
suddenly thought of. Even with a Beethoven symphony that happens,
but the basic
structure doesn’t change because the basic structure is in the
score! It’s not my conception that this is the structure.
Beethoven or Haydn made the structure of the symphony, and since my
interpretation is very structurally oriented, that cannot change.
structure of the Beethoven symphony
is the same whether you’re conducting or it is someone else,
and yet they’ll be radically, wildly different.
ZM: Oh yes,
but that’s what you call interpretation!
[Both laugh] Every symphony has a
bridge between the development and the recapitulation. Whether
Haydn or Mozart, it’s what time you take; it’s what kind of a
modulation is involved there; it’s how Mozart
brings the G
Minor Symphony first movement back; it’s
how the theme of the Eroica
comes back. It’s completely different in each case. The
in the Eroica is much
longer. There’s a lot of tension, and
that’s where one conductor or one interpreter has different
have to also consider if every conductor really realizes with an
orchestra what he really wants. Is it happening, or does he just
orchestra take over? I go to concerts of colleagues and I see and
lot! I see an intention being started, and I don’t
see it being fulfilled. I see what the man is trying to do, and
many times with fine conductors it happens. Many times though, it
doesn’t. So therefore there’s a sort of an anarchy even
with a good orchestra. Somehow it comes together in the end, but
I see that this is not what the conductor
originally set out in the beginning of this certain passage. We
musicians have this
paranoia when we go to concerts of analyzing all the time. We
can’t help it. I really wish I could just sit back and enjoy
sometimes. And I do when I like somebody, when I agree.
I really sit back and I enjoy. I look forward to it, even.
But this happens even in a movie when I’m listening to the music.
It’s a bad habit,
BD: It’s one
of the frustrations of the profession, I
BD: How much
of your intent actually gets realized in
most concerts or operas?
ZM: I tell
you, with the orchestras that I’m a music
director it gets realized more because they know beforehand what I
like and I know their characteristics. It’s a two-way
thing. They have to know me as much as I know
them, and that changes. I’m flexible from solo player to solo
player and also from section to section in the
orchestra. I know what my viola section in the Israel
Philharmonic can do and deliver during a concert after having
rehearsed certain things. I know what I can suddenly demand of
them and whether I will get it or not. With some sections, I
get it, so I don’t take the risk.
BD: Is making
music always taking risks?
ZM: Ah, I
love to take risks! After having
established a ground basic principle of a certain movement of symphony,
yes! You and the soloist take musical risks.
Amazingly, one of
the things we didn’t talk about a couple of years ago was Wagner.
your Ring here. Is this
your first full Ring?
I did it in Florence, but this is the first time I’m conducting it in
one cycle. In Florence we just did each opera over four years but
no full cycle at the end.
BD: Does your
concept of the whole thing
grow and deepen as a cycle?
ZM: Even rehearsing
it, I feel myself
conducting one opera lasting over seventeen hours.
BD: So it
really is one piece?
ZM: Yeah, and
especially because we are not rehearsing
it in a chronological fashion. In fact, last week I was going
second floor and the fifth floor, and every room was practicing another
scene of one of the operas. I was sometimes
conducting in the pit, and it’s an exaggeration but in one little
of a sudden I don’t know which opera I’m in because it’s the same
always is in D-flat major in the Rheingold
in Siegfried, too.
BD: But, the
motif of “Siegfried” or
the motif of “Hope” will
change radically, and they are sometimes hidden in the score. Not
“Siegfried” as much, but
the curse motif and
the motif of love and the minor motifs come in all different
kinds of rhythms. You have to really sit and think,
“Oh, my God. This is not a new melody. It is the
same.” But this is where Wagner is a genius. And this idea
taken over by Richard Strauss in his Tone Poems. George Szell and
I once had lunch, and we only spoke about the
Domestic Symphony of Strauss,
because not only do we love to
conduct it, but on paper we look at that score and discover
things! It’s a kaleidoscope where you suddenly see a
little nose or a feature that you haven’t seen before. A
hundred faces are hidden in the score.
Strauss put those in the
score for you, or did he put them in the score for the audience?
just a whole other point. What
does the audience really hear in the end? I don’t know. I’m
not being snobby, not at all! I can’t really tell, because
I’m not listening with their ears.
BD: What do
you want them to hear?
ZM: I want
them to hear analytically when I’m
conducting analytically on stage. I don’t know if
it’s reaching them. I don’t even know what they’re thinking
about. This is not a negative comment, but I don’t know!
BD: Is it
possible to have one interpretation
go out there for the musicologist who studied the score, and another
for the guy
off the street who’s bought a ticket for the first time?
Yes. We get letters sometimes from people
who say, “We were at your concert for the first time, and we
feel that we have discovered such and such.” It’s not that they
discovered me, they have discovered the Beethoven Seventh Symphony and the inherently
rhythmic potential that it
has. It speaks to people. I once went with an Indian
general to a concert of Karl Böhm conducting the Beethoven
Seventh in Berlin. I’m
convinced this man was highly cultured, a very
educated person, a retired general who has never heard western
music. I know that without speaking to him. He came to
this concert with me, and in Indian music, like in jazz, the public
takes part by beating or clapping or saying, “Great.”
After a jazz lick is finished, they applaud, right?
ZM: In Indian
music it’s the same thing. After
a certain improvisational cycle is finished, people voice their
some of the other music is still going on?
ZM: When a
sitar and tabla play and a certain cycle is over, the sitarist has
to breathe before the tabla goes on. The rhythm section
goes on, but in this little breath the public
demonstrates their appreciation. Well, this man started talking
like that during
the Beethoven Seventh and he
started beating with his hands! The
people in Berlin turned around in shock, but he was really
appreciating! He got the rhythm of the second movement. It
spoke to him! I really appreciated that this man, all by himself,
discovered the rhythmic potential
of a Beethoven symphony. Now maybe the rest of the audience was
just dreaming or asleep or appreciating. There’s a whole mixture.
BD: The rest
of the audience may
have heard it a hundred times. Did they get excited that here is
this man hearing it for the first time?
They were just shocked.
BD: When you
conduct a piece of music, how much
is the score and how much is Zubin Mehta?
ZM: I hope very
little is me, basically.
I love the scores I conduct so much that I am continuously kneeling
before them. I have come to the point in my life that I only
conduct what I want. My period of my life that I was obligated to
certain things is over... Well, it’s not completely over, but
it’s mostly over,
so that every piece of music I put in the program is because I want to
and I love it, or it is for a soloist I perform with. At this
I only perform with those soloists that I feel I breathe with.
BD: Do you
ever want to challenge yourself and do
something either completely outrageous or unknown?
ZM: Oh, yeah,
but because I want to do it, of course! Yeah sure, but many
compositions I’ve done
in the years at the New York Philharmonic and LA Philharmonic I knew
when I was conducting them that I will never do them again.
[Laughs] In other words, thank God it’s over?
Yes. I’m a great promoter of contemporary
music, so I don’t want to create any impression that I don’t appreciate
that at all. No, no. But sometimes you commission a piece,
but you can
never commission a masterpiece. What comes out you’re obligated
to do. Jascha Heifetz once came to a world premiere of a
which he hated and which I didn’t much care for and he said, “Why did
you play it?” I said, “I commissioned it!” He said,
“You can pay the composer, but you don’t have to play it.”
I said, “No. I don’t agree.” You have to give the
composition a chance!
BD: Is it the
obligation of the musical
community to give virtually all the compositions a chance?
ZM: What do
you mean, “All?”
BD: All of
the new pieces so that we can sort
through them and find the masterpieces out of it.
Yes! This has been my philosophy
always. You have to put a certain amount of new music
through the sieve of eternity to see what’s left over, and it’s really
not until the performance that you can judge. Look at all the
hundreds of compositions that were written and performed in the
19th Century that we don’t know today. They have
disappeared. I once read a list of operas that Gustav Mahler
conducted in Hamburg as Kappelmeister.
I’ve never even heard of
those composers, leave aside the operas. They don’t exist
anymore, but Mahler conducted them because he probably had no
choice. He was not Music Director there, so he just had to.
BD: But he
gave them their shot.
conducted something like a hundred and fifty-seven performances a
Unbelievable! Today you have contracts with opera houses where
conduct twenty or twenty-five evenings a year.
He did a hundred and fifty-seven! He also took the summers off
did nothing but compose.
you’re about to hit sixty...
ZM: No, sixty
is hitting me. [Both laugh] I don’t feel it at all, I must
BD: Are you
fending it off or are you welcoming it
with open arms?
ZM: No, but
it’s the last birthday I’m announcing.
[Laughs] That’s it.
BD: What are
some of the surprises that
you’ve seen in music over this time?
Constantly pleasant surprises; all the young people I’ve helped to
I can give you a long list. I’m not going to drop names now, but
this has given me enormous, enormous pleasure
over the years. Also the young, talented composers, introducing
them to the orchestra and within the orchestra. In my sixteen
years in Los Angeles I engaged eighty-two
new players, and I would say in seventy per cent of the
cases I made the right decision. I always had a committee, of
course, helping me. And I feel in the case of the New York
Philharmonic, where I brought in about forty-five or forty-seven
musicians, ninety per cent of the people I’m proud to have chosen.
advice do you have for someone who wants to
be an orchestral player?
talk about strings because it is in the string profession where
people are not sure whether they will go into an orchestra. In
the wind profession, ninety-five per cent are studying to go into some
greatest orchestras in the world. In the string profession, as a
talented teen-ager you are not sure.
BD: You might
want to form a quartet?
ZM: If you are
really very talented as a
teen-ager, you want to be a soloist... and your mother wants you to be
a soloist! Most times also the teacher wants you to be a soloist,
and that’s where
the mistake happens. The teacher, for his own ego or for his own
advertisement, does not see the potential of a good orchestral
player. I have arguments with teachers all over the world.
“You have talent. If this talent is going to be a soloist, you
can’t stop this.” That person will become a soloist whether you
put him down or whether you encourage him. But if you have a real
talent, that talent has to
be geared to what’s the best that you can possibly
imagine for him. If then he wants to be in an orchestra or to go
quartet or become a soloist, he can always try. I’ll give you an
example. I nurtured a six year-old boy in Los Angeles. His
father was the leader of my second violin section. He was an
extremely talented kid, and as a child I made him play little solos
the orchestra for children’s concerts, etc. Then he grew
up. Of course he wanted to be a soloist. He
had real soloist material. He went to New York and studied
great Ivan Galamian, and I encouraged him. Then he started
playing solo recitals and I heard him. Considering the talent of
the people playing already in the late
1960’s, I knew he would not make a world career. I was not
going to discourage him, but I talked to his father. I said, “I’m
willing to take him in as Assistant Concertmaster and he’s
only in his late teens now. I will see to it that he plays as
much solo as possible as well as being with the LA Philharmonic.
I’ll give him time off to play
his dates so he has the satisfaction of playing solo, but I will
prophesy that seating him next to an experienced player — a
concertmaster — will give him the experience,
and by the time he’s
twenty-five he will be ready to be concertmaster of the best
orchestra.” His father must have talked to him, and in a few
years he came to me. I think he was about twenty or twenty-one
and he said, “I want to take you up on your offer.” So with the
agreement of the orchestra I put him on the second
stand. He was assistant concertmaster and he sat next to a former
concertmaster — a real old fox, a man who knew
everything about that profession — and he kept
on coaching him. I would see at rehearsals that he was
getting advice from a master.
really apprenticed him!
Yes! Today his is the Concertmaster of the New York
BD: This is
Yes. Obviously, you know him! I brought him to the New York
also. In his contract, apart from the two
months that the Philharmonic gets off in any case, he has another two
months off to do solos. He can play solo for four
months, if he wants! He makes a rather good career as a soloist
with every metropolitan orchestra around, and he plays with the New
York Philharmonic. He played with me on tour a lot. He
played the Tchaikovsky Concerto,
the Symphonie Espagnol,
etcetera. But because I also encourage him as a soloist, then
when he has to play Brahms First
Symphony, it’s a piece of cake!
BD: Do you
then feel especially warm when he does the
solos in Scheherazade or
other incidental things like that?
everything. This is no problem
because he’s used to playing solo for about three to four months a
year. But this is the typical example of somebody who, had he
remained as a soloist, would have played solo and would
have earned a good living, but it’s just not on that level that a
Vengerov comes and conquers the world! You could never tell a
Vengerov to play in
the orchestra; there’s no way. He’s a soloist! [See my Interview with Maxim
Vengerov.] Same thing with Itzhak and Pinchas and little
Midori. These are born soloists!
BD: So you’re
optimistic about the whole future of
ZM: With the
talent? There is a
tremendous amount of talent, but the very fine violinists should
be trained to play in the best orchestras. Then if they want to
form a quartet, that’s fine too. Or they can play in
the orchestra and form a quartet. That’s what we have in Israel.
BD: I would
think that the best orchestras would have
a whole bunch of chamber ensembles within them.
Weingartner once engaged an
entire string quartet and put it in the Vienna Philharmonic.
that wonderful? I have never done that. With today’s union
situation it would be impossible! I knew that quartet in their
age. When I first went to Vienna they were still
around. They were great players, and they’d never give up the
quartet! They had their annual subscription series in the concert
house in Vienna.
BD: Does it
help you in your concert career to be a television superstar also?
ZM: I think
nobody in the classical field is a
though you’re the conductor of the Three
ZM: That was
two concerts only. It’s not my doing that they repeat it ad nauseam!
BD: But it
puts you in that league.
ZM: No. No,
it doesn’t. I would love to
conduct my kind of programs on television. In fact, with the New
York Philharmonic, three times a year we did Live from Lincoln
Center. I loved to work those programs out with the
then do them, but those were live performances, and I think live
performances have a great, positive value to them.
BD: Does that
make you at all schizophrenic — knowing
that you’re playing for twenty-six hundred people behind you in Fischer
Hall, and two million people on the television?
no. Not at all. Last year we were
in China with the Israel Philharmonic and we did a concert in the Great
Hall of the People, which is, you know, where Mao used to speak.
Ten thousand people were in the auditorium! That’s quite
but the television took it on their first channel all over China.
I don’t know how many people heard that, but you can be conscious
of that, surely. The next day we played in Shanghai, and we
didn’t know that there was going to be television there, too. In
those countries you don’t argue. [Both laugh] I saw the
television director so I said, “What is
this? Another national broadcast?” He said, “No, this is
only local broadcast.” So I said, “How many
people, about?” He said, “Three hundred million.” [Both
laugh] A local broadcast!
BD: Is it
special that the Israel
Philharmonic is also hitting sixty?
ZM: We have
always had the same birthday
year. In fact, we were celebrating the Israel Philharmonic’s
sixtieth birthday during the Christmas week this year because in 1936
that was the only week
Toscanini was free to go and open there. He gave them his
Christmas week, so every year at Christmastime they
celebrate their birthday.
BD: It’s a
special relationship that you
have in Israel.
ZM: I’ve been
Music Director for twenty-five
years, but I’ve been there for even more. I started in ‘61.
In fact, we are coming to Chicago this year in April to start our
American tour, and it will end on my birthday in Los Angeles
with my three colleagues playing with me — Barenboim,
Zukerman. So, I really look forward to this; it’s kind of a
BD: Are you
looking forward also to taking over in Munich?
much. As I said, I’ve never been a
music director with an opera house, and I have accumulated, I
feel, quite a big repertoire through the years. It’s for the
repertoire that I’m going there because opera houses like Munich,
Vienna, Berlin exist a lot on repertoire. This means no-rehearsal
performances. I can’t do that. I’m not that much of a
virtuoso opera conductor, so I will have a little rehearsal, but
I’m looking forward to conducting Traviata
with one rehearsal or Turandot
with one rehearsal — or just one
rehearsal per act where you
put everything together. The personnel of these opera houses
function so well because that’s the
way they have existed for over a hundred years.
BD: All the
rehearsals are for the new
production, but then the revivals have no rehearsal.
Yeah. I will do new productions, also, but I have a contract to
conduct forty evenings a
season. There will be three new productions with
eight performances each; that’s twenty-four.
The rest of the performances I will do at least three or four operas a
couple of times each from the repertoire.
BD: Are you
jealously guard the works you want to do?
ZM: But I
don’t run the day-to-day operation as Music
Director. They have an Intendant, a general manager. He’s
in charge of the whole season. He stays in his office every day,
and he is now
planning ’96-’97 or ’97-‘98. I’ve already planned
with him my new productions of the ’98-‘99 season; later we will put in
the repertoire pieces. I conduct forty evenings a
year, and Peter Schneider, who’s a wonderful conductor with a great
repertoire, will do thirty evenings. So between us,
seventy evenings are taken care of. Then we have Italian
conductors coming and doing repertoire. There’s a wonderful
conductor called Luisi. He does a lot of repertoire in Vienna,
Munich and Berlin. He sort of pendulates between these three
cities. Then there’s a
wonderful Australian lady, Simone Young. Wonderful! She
does Rigoletto in Vienna one
night, and Elektra in Munich
the next night! She is very able, so we use her a lot.
conduct all over the world...
ZM: I conduct
where I want. Sometimes that happens to be in a lot of
places. I’m going to be conducting in Amman, in Jordan,
for the first time on the fifth of April.
BD: With what
ZM: With the
Amman Symphony or Philharmonic; I don’t
even know their name. It’s sort of a chamber-type
orchestra. But I feel, as a great friend of Israel, I have to
make the first gesture, so I’m volunteering for the Queen of Jordan’s
charity to conduct a concert for her, and thereby I will be able to
about when I can bring the Israel Philharmonic to Jordan.
BD: I would
think it would be even more important to see when you could bring the
Amman Symphony to Tel Aviv.
this is also possible. Things between Jordan and Israel are
especially in the business community by leaps and bounds. This
friendship is developing
much quicker than between Israel and Egypt because Israel always had a
soft corner for
the King of Jordan. In Israel he was criticized
much less for hugging Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War than in
America. The Israelis are Middle
Easterners, so they know the situation. They know that Jordan has
no oil, so he needs Saddam. If he doesn’t hug him, they’ll cut
his throat, probably! So he was not criticized as much. On
the whole, King Hussein of Jordan has also dealt with Israel very
fairly all through
the years. He had to be in the Arab camp; they understood
that. So the Israeli tourists flood Petra, for instance.
It’s tremendous. Anyway, I look
forward to that.
BD: Thank you
once again for speaking with me about all of this.
ZM: Thank you.
© 1993 & 1996 Bruce Duffie
These interviews were recorded in the office suite
of the Civic Opera House in Chicago on December 8, 1993 and February
Portions (along with recordings)
were used on WNIB in 1993, and twice in 1996. This
made and posted on this
website in 2012.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been
transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago
from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of
2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and
journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM,
as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.
You are invited to visit his website
for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of
other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also
to call your attention to the photos and information about his
grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a
century ago. You may also send him E-Mail
with comments, questions and suggestions.