Muzak for Storytelling.

By chance I heard this piece of music on a classical radio streaming site, but although I had no idea who composed it or what its title was, somehow I knew every note, and was humming or whistling along throughout. Before the piece ended, I went to the computer that was streaming the music, got the identifying info, and later went looking for recordings online. There are several to be found, including a couple of piano reductions and a recording that purports to be of the composer conducting the piece, but this one (an excerpt from a much longer concert) is my favorite:

I’ve seen other conductors who had active styles, but Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996) takes the cake. He conducts with every muscle of his body, including his eyebrows, shoulders, torso, elbows, and even his tongue. You can see him whistling along with the wind instruments and the strings, imitating the brass, and can hear him shout directions.

The orchestra puts its heart into accompanying him as he almost dances on the podium. Maybe he got into the piece because he and the composer (George Enescu, 1881-1955) were countrymen (Romanians), but his performance here is pure body-language storytelling; moreover, I’ve never seen another conductor who smiled as much as he did, while leading music.

Incidentally, get a load of the enormous 1970s television camera stationed at upstage right.

(Many thanks to the person who posted this musical excerpt.)

 

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