Echoes: Excerpts From The Farewell Concert

Echoes Excerpts From The Farewell Concert

In an obituary published in the Tages Anzeiger of Zurich, Mario Gerteis draws a suggestive portrait of Celibidache in his youth. "A nervous fiery ball, halfway between histrionics and insight, between passion and obsession. His dark locks hanging over his face in disorder, the man had something devilish about him – after all, Dracula came from the dark forests of Transylvania, too. There was, however, a long way to go to the strange saint of later years." His biographer, Werner Oehlmann, excellently portrayed him in his book when he coined the resonant phrase "the age of Celibidache" after he had only led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years. Endowed with a fabulous musical ear, with a never failing memory and an exquisitely refined sense of tonality, a tall, temperamental man bursting with energy, Sergiu Celibidache transmitted to his concerts his accuracy, communicativeness and the ardour of his wide, southerner's gestures. Celibidache, Oehlmann noticed, innately combined all the qualities of a great conductor. Thus, the artistic accuracy with which he always approached a musical piece is relevant, as well as his fanatic endeavours to make his musicians reach perfection in their interpretation of any musical score. He was naturally attracted by the music of Eastern Europe, as represented by Tchaikovski, Dvorak, Prokofiev, Shostakovich. His spiritual culture and personal aesthetics drew him towards the masters of French Impressionism, Debussy and Ravel, whom he interpreted with ethereal tenderness and the crystal clarity of sonorousness, while he conveyed to Stravinsky's scores brilliancy and glamorous rhythmic refinement. However, the author concluded, the most outstanding of his achievements remain his interpretations of classical composers, such as those of Beethoven of his late years in Berlin which can be placed alongside those of Furtwängler, even if they are entirely different in their conception.* Sergiu Celibidache has remained faithful to his artistic credo, trying to serve the truth of music without making any compromise. As far as success was concerned, it came almost naturally, I might say. "I dare say", he confessed to the music critic Alfred Hoffman in Prague in 1965, "that I needed some strength of character not to rest on the laurels of popular cheers in the years after the war, as the public were then happy that they were rid of the horrors of the slaughter and that music was again offered to them and they were ready to carry the conductors shoulder-high in triumph. I have nevertheless tried to serve music and the true conceptions of the great composers and this has been for me the incentive that helped me progress. I hate compromise and – as I very seriously take my responsibility to educate, from a musical point of view, the orchestras I work with, I require special conditions for my rehearsals: at least ten of them for each concert. That is why I could not conduct in the United States where musical life is too much impregnated with a mercantile spirit. I also conduct quite rarely at musical festivals where the agglomeration of events will not allow for refined interpretative polishing."* The opinion of his student, Swedish conductor Hans Jochem Reeps, who talked to writer and music critic George Sbârcea in 1967, is interesting to quote: "It is in the manner in which he works with the orchestra that the essence of a conductor's thought and human nature is revealed," Reeps said. "Celibidache would always say that not through miracles, but only through endeavour and effort can perfection be reached in musical interpretation. Focused, serious, controlling his ardent nature that radiated human kindness, it was he who taught me what it means to identify yourself with the orchestra, to be able to obtain one of those performances where the audience can find comfort, hope, enthusiasm. When asked to choose between reason and intuition, a contraposition that no modern artist is exempt from, Celibidache rather opts for a synthesis of the two. Everything he does pleads for simpleness and clarity. Reeps believes that Celibidache is passionate and lucid at the same time and that he generously offers so much music to his audiences because he offers himself to music unreservedly. His style as a conductor is never cold, mechanical, it is always extremely vivid, with gestures that are always new and surprising, always adapted to the musical piece that he interprets, to each inner tremor corresponds a new expression. He thus manages to create and preserve an exquisitely proportional tension, concentrating the entire attention of the orchestra on himself. His musical phrases are pulsing so intensely that they might be compared, because of their classical nature, to bas-reliefs. That is why music, as translated by Celibidache, is endowed with deep, existential meanings. His art starts from people and always gets back to them. He possesses a particular attraction – the much debated on "magnetism" of the conductor – which involves all partners in an act of communication. He is one of the few conductors, Reeps says, whose poise and seriousness are not mere façade, but the mirror of a complex inner life. * Here is a relevant example taken from the Canadian paper Le Nouvelliste of October 12, 1966, and signed by Roland Heroux. "Celibidache? A tempest! A volcano! No conductor has ever caused so much controversy as he. But everybody agrees he is extraordinary. No other conductor masters the orchestra as he does. He mesmerizes the orchestra, he hypnotizes the crowds. They say he is a conductor impossible to satisfy. However, al orchestras are fighting for the honour of being conducted by him. He travels all over the world looking for orchestras that he would like to work with, irrespective of their renown or prestige. He gives them the best of himself and makes them play in such a way that they cannot recognize themselves. Celibidache is one of the most complex musicians of our time." Recent history in a nutshell My joy in listening to Sergiu Celibidache and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra was immense. There were two concerts. I had last seen him in a live concert in Tokyo. He was then approaching 80 (he was born in 1912) and was ailing. He looks better now. He can move more easily, though he conducts sitting in a chair and he needs to be taken by the arm to the stage and the concertmaster has to help him down from his dais.Sergiu Celibidache will only travel with his beloved orchestra, that has been lately shaped by his tremendous science and his accomplished talent: the Munich Philharmonic. He was going to take over the Bucharest Philharmonic in 1978 – he had even declared it publicly. He finally didn't. The Byzantine atmosphere and plots robbed him of his dream. In February 1979 he starts a series of concerts and in June 1979 he is appointed musical director in Munich. In a couple of years the ensemble is a leading German orchestra. At the beginning of 1990 the Munich Philharmonic comes to Bucharest. Celibidache greets the liberation of Romania from dictatorship. The orchestra accompanies German chancellor Helmut Kohl everywhere in his journeys all over the world. The Munich Philharmonic takes part in the festivities celebrating the 40th anniversary of the state of Israel, plays at the International Exhibition in Seville. It visits Sofia in 1994.Romanian members of the distinguished ensembleThe Munich Philharmonic is welcomed enthusiastically everywhere. In Santa Cruz, hundreds of music lovers could not get a ticket for a meeting with Celibidache. An impressive concert programme presented Celibidache's views on conducting and the analysis started with the following sentence: "Filósofo, teórico y Guru, Sergiu Celibidache es un director atípico, tal y como testimonia la atmosfera casi religiosa de sus recentes conciertos en la Opera de la Bastilia." The unique atmosphere that the mind and soul of Celibidache create can be felt from the first bars. In his orchestra one can find musicians from all continents. The concertmaster is a Romanian – Viorel Nasturica. The first bass is Dorin Marc. And they are not the only Romanians in the distinguished ensemble.I listened to Celibidache's both concerts. The first included Haydn's Symphony no. 92 and Schumann's Second Symphony, the second – Mozart's Symphony no. 40 and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. Between the two events I had the happiness of talking to Sergiu Celibidache for two hours in his apartment in a Santa Cruz hotel. It was a privilege hard to obtain. At the beginning of February, a new issue of "Spectacolul Muzicii" was due to appear and I was glad that I could publish in this weekly a dialogue with the most important conductor of our times. "It was not easy for me, maestro, to reach you in your apartment here. Your orchestra's administrator is a fierce Cerberus!""What can I do? I need to protect my moments of rest.""Thank you for receiving me. I'm sorry I don't have a recorder. I'll try to write down every word of our conversation. Each of your thoughts is eagerly waited for in Romania.""I'm glad to be able to talk in Romanian. I've heard you often mention my name in Bucharest, that you broadcast on television moments of the concerts I gave in Romania throughout the years, that you wrote a number of articles about me and that you are even thinking of writing a book."" I see you are informed on what's going on in our country.""Bucharest is always in my thoughts.""Each week your name is printed on the posters of our Philharmonic as you are the honorary director of the institution."(The maestro smiles, but doesn't say anything.)"I listened to your versions of Schumann and Haydn last night. I know so many versions of Schumann's Symphony… However, I had the feeling I was listening to it for the first time in my life. If I had known the programme, I would have brought the printed version from Bucharest with me. So many new lines, so many new voices that I had no idea about.""This is Schumann. I haven't in the least changed his score.""How do you mean? Were there four bassoons in his symphony?""That's something else. The modern musical culture forced me to make such changes. I often increase the number of instruments that existed in the composer's original score.""Do you have the right to make such a personal contribution?""Why not?""They say Schumann was not very good at orchestration.""That's true. But we must not forget he was a genius as a composer.""I was telling you I heard unknown details for the first time.""You should look at the score more carefully. They are all there. It's the conductors that are unable to shape them, to place them correctly in the discourse.""Weren't some fragments rendered too slowly?""Music requires slowness. There is no other way in which we can listen to everything there is in the score. The duty of the conductor is to cast light on the whole and, primarily, on the essence of the composer's thought.""Would you take the liberty to double the number of instruments in Brahms?""You bet I would! Poor Brahms, he couldn't exploit the potential of the orchestra.""My God, how extraordinary is a recording I have with your version of Brahms's Symphony in E minor!""Maybe it's also because of this restructuring. His knowledge of the orchestra was pretty limited.""How about Beethoven?""He had a better instinct.""I dare ask you this question again. Do you have the right to think like that?""I have the duty to do it, not only the right.""Would Furtwängler have taken such liberty?""He often doubled the number of woodwinds.""How about Toscanini, Ansermet, Mravinski?""I have often expressed my views on some of them. I did it at the press conference in Bucharest, too. One of those you have just mentioned knew he could not understand everything and assimilate everything from a score.""I guess some music lovers will be extremely grieved to see you demolish their idols.""Let them be. What really matters is the truth. We should not forget that Toscanini was an accurate conductor, he promoted clear intonation. However, he would not organize his ideas. I am increasingly interested in Furtwängler. He was not a very technical conductor. He had, nevertheless a system.""How about those complex gestures of his?""Yet how expressive his sounds could be!""In 1945 you reconstructed the Berlin Philharmonic. You had it in your hands. Why did you hand it over to Furtwängler in 1949?""Because it was his. And it was my duty to give him back the instrument he had created.""If in 1949 you had stayed conducting the great Berlin orchestra, your life would have been different, nay, I would say the very history of interpreting in the 20th century would have been different.""Very likely.""They say that in 1945, immediately after the 9th of May, a Soviet officer, a colonel and a lawyer of Jewish extraction who was a great music lover and was in charge of the administration of a Berlin section gave you a motorcycle with a side car to rebuild the orchestra.""That's not true. Nobody gave me a motorcycle.""O, Lord, how many legends there are in the history of music. These are Bacon's idols we must get rid of.""Exactly. And how much invented stuff I read about me!""Tell me, I have read harsh words you wrote on Mahler. Do you still have that opinion about him?""Naturally! He was an amateurish composer. Jotting on paper everything that crossed his mind. He starts an idea and then stops when it really gets interesting. He hasn't got the slightest trace of discipline. He exaggerates everything. The only times he succeeds are those when he uses a text. As for the rest…""And how can you explain his popularity everywhere in Europe, America?""I can't.""Conductors, orchestras, the public love him.""I'm telling you again, there are no explanations for the stupidity and ignorance of our present-day world.""How about Bruckner?""Mahler is the denial of music. Bruckner – its assertion.""They say, however, that he only wrote a symphony in nine parts…""Nonsense. Each of his symphonies is a unique, original construction. Bruckner's inventiveness is overwhelming in each of the pages he wrote.""Some things may need to be cut.""Absolutely not… Bruckner is virtually unknown. The poor man didn't even listen to his symphonies. It's only now that we are starting to discover his craft, his greatness." "I heard you in Tokyo in 1990, in one of Bruckner's symphonies. It seemed to me you played it a little bit too slowly for people in our century.""The sound is a solar system that builds up in time. Speed ruins expression, content…""Bruckner is very much loved in Romania, too. Cristian Mandeal is working for the complete series of his symphonies.""I'm glad to hear that. And don't forget that Furtwängler was one of the first to intuit Bruckner's real force.""Much has been said at a certain moment about your special love for Josquin des Près.""When I was a student I had to write a paper for the history of music course. I incidentally chose Josquin des Près as my topic. I studied his creation and the epoch he lived in for a long time. That's all.""Last year, at Palestrina's celebration, I thought you were going to enter the territory of Renaissance music.""I haven't got time for that.""Why are you neglecting Johann Sebastian?""Do you really think I wouldn't do Mathäus? But I have 130 people in my orchestra. They must all study, work. And what am I supposed to do? Use only 27 of them?""You said so many things about Karajan. Would you still subscribe to those opinions?""Of course. He has left us very few good things.""There is, however, a captivating meticulousness in many of his recordings. If we compare recordings of the same piece made at different times we notice the very same timing.""This rigidity is an attribute of amateurs. Music must always sound differently. Here lies the force of interpretation.""Are you still adamant in your aversion to recordings?""I certainly am.""However, dozens of discs with your name on it can be seen everywhere.""What can I do? These are unauthorized recordings made in the concert hall, on the radio or on television. I never sign any of them. I would not allow them to be sold if I could help it.""And what remains of your work, of your personality?""Need it remain anything? Why?" "You keep dumbfounding me… Do you remember the Bucharest Philharmonic? You said so many beautiful words at the rehearsals about A.O. Popa, Radu Chitu, Mihai Tanasila, about the whole host of string players!" "Don't write this. Maybe you shouldn't… I haven't met musicians like ours anywhere. Romanian musicians are full of spontaneity, intelligence, creativity. I had a colleague of my own age. His name was Iarca. How subtly, how flexibly, how exactly he played each musical phrase.""What do we lack?""We didn't have people capable of achieving a synthesis, people able to feel and fight for using these resources. Enescu did not concern himself with Romania. He lacked a constructive spirit.""Why didn't you stay with us in 1979?""I was not accepted. After the concert with the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was ready to come to Bucharest. You know very well what happened. A couple of days before the established date I got a phone call and I was informed that the Orchestra was very busy preparing the 'Song of Romania' Festival. How shortsighted they could be! The answer was typical for the communists. What was left for me to do then? As for you, you were left with the 'Song of Romania'." "Why did you choose Munich?""I had their complete trust. They accepted all my conditions. The choice of the soloists, the choice of the programme, two weeks of rehearsals for each concert.""The orchestra has had a long tradition. It was created in 1983 and was led by Mahler, Löwe, Kabasta. After the war it was led by Jochum, Rosbaud, Rieger, Kempe." "In the decades after 1945 the attempts of fully exploiting the potential of the ensemble were unfortunately less fruitful. The Orchestra reached its present-day standards after 1979. The Government gave us their full support. ""What position does Munich occupy among the German Philharmonic orchestras?""Undoubtedly the first.""And the famous Berlin Philharmonic?""I conducted them a couple of months ago. They lost their force.""What did Abbado manage?""Nothing.""He seems to me an extraordinarily gifted musician.""Nothing becomes deeper in his art. And this shows.""The world has changed. You can see that in the performance of orchestras, in the manner in which music is made. In the preferences of the public.""That's why we must take great care of this world.""What do the musicians think about the inflexibility of your judgment?""To me, what the world thinks about me is unimportant. What I think about the world really matters.""I was happy to read the American reviews of your concerts. The musicians and critics of America consider you from a different perspective now. They have a particular respect for you.""They are still superficial. They value you according to the duration of the cheers.""The Americans are increasingly preoccupied with musical activities and institutions.""But the absence of genuine personalities is extremely serious." "I would invite you, dear maestro, back to your native Moldavia. A couple of years ago I went to Roman and spent a few days in your birthplace. The building now houses a music school. It is, indeed, one of the most beautiful buildings in the old town.""I only lived in Roman until the age of two. In 1914 our family moved to Iasi.""Your parents were Greek?""One of my father's ancestors came to our country from Crete at the beginning of the 17th century. My mother was a Bratianu. But I don't know if it was the same family that gave the great politicians.""Is it true that you have been fascinated by mathematics since childhood?" "I did, indeed, love mathematics. I also had outstanding teachers.""Alexandru Myler.""I learned from him so much!""Did you study at the National High School or at the Boarding School?""At the Pedagogical Seminary.""And you graduated from high school in 1929…""And I went to the Bucharest Polytechnic.""Your father meant you to be an engineer.""And only an engineer.""You were a good piano jazz player.""I think so. I was enthralled by the domain.""Do you still love jazz?""Very much. It gives you spontaneity, the power to improvise. You cannot play great music and not love jazz.""Why did you leave the Bucharest Polytechnic?""Because I wished to study music.""Did your father agree?""On the contrary. He cut off all financial support.""Who helped you carry on?""My unforgettable friend of those years, Trancu-Iasi.""Do you remember other colleagues of your generation?""Bebe Pascu, Georgel Manoliu have always been present in my heart.""They are brilliant musicians. They also mention you whenever I talk to them. What would have happened if your father had helped you?""It is to his inflexible nature that I owe my career as a musician. If I had had the courage to confront him, to ask his forgiveness, my destiny would have been different.""Who opened the road to Berlin for you?""Professor Tiessen. I took part in a composition contest. I sent them a quartet. Tissen sent me a cable: 'Come to Berlin immediately.' I spent several months in Bucharest, I prepared myself. Trancu-Iasi helped me a lot. I am sorry he died when I could have helped him in return. In the German capital, Tiessen gave me a very modest allowance.""What members of your family still live in Romania?""I have a sister in Galati.""I have so many questions for you… I keep jumping from one topic to another. You are a follower of oriental philosophy, of Zen Buddhism. You are, however, an orthodox Christian.""There is no incompatibility. The Zen doctrine helps me understand the world. Everything that happens in the world for no personal reason.""One of the three concert masters of the Munich Philharmonic is called Nasturica.""He is an extraordinary artist. He got the job from the very first attempt. When the contest was organized, we were delighted we made such an acquisition. He played Brahms's Concerto. Not even Perlman matches him.""He was trained in the Romanian school.""An excellent school for violinists. I invited Professor Stefan Gheorghiu to Munich for a special discussion a couple of months ago. He is an outstanding teacher. I wanted to see how he thinks, I wanted to find an explanation for the excellent results of the violin school of Romania. He is an accomplished musician with a great pedagogical gift. I don't think there has been a violin teacher like Stefan Gheorghiu since Carl Flesch.""Do you remember the players of Bucharest?""How could I forget A.O. Popa, for instance?""Bucharest also has very gifted conductors.""That's true. They came, however, ten to fifteen years too late to be able to make a name for themselves in Europe."""I remember your concerts with the Stockholm Orchestra. Why did you not stay in Sweden?""I didn't like it there. They are a people with too many inferiority and superiority complexes.""Did your famous conducting lessons bear fruit?""Too little. I have 15 students only in Spain. However, they are unable to get to the depths of my conceptions. They failed to understand the 'unity' of my vision. Humanity is nowadays crushed under massive lack of education. The access to metaphysics, to the ultimate truth is difficult.""You know how much we would like to have you in Romania. We even founded a society 'Pro Celibidache' whose only aim is to bring our beloved maestro back to Bucharest." "Who are the members of this society?""Dan Grigore is its president." "I never heard him playing the piano. But I know how he thinks. I know his character. He is a remarkable man, there is no doubt about that.""Answer this question, please. When are you coming home?""I want to come with the Munich Philharmonic. I miss Bucharest, I miss Iasi. At my age, this is a trip I must make.""And who's stopping you from doing it?""Nobody. Chancellor Kohl wants us to go on this tour, too. There is no auditorium, however.""The Athenaeum will be soon ready.""The stage is too small. For a Bruckner symphony, 120 players are needed. The stage can be extended by sacrificing three or four rows in the stalls.""I don't know if this is an acoustically acceptable solution. There is a new concert hall in the Parliament Palace, one that has hardly been exploited.""We'll have to examine that.""Send an acoustics engineer to check its sonority.""I will do that.""We must not let 1995 pass without seeing you back in Bucharest.""Let's hope it will happen.""I wish you health in the first place.""Thank you. My greetings to everybody at home." Iosif SAVASanta Cruz de Tenerife (Spectacolul muzicii, Bucharest, March 22, 1995, p. 4) * 
Documents on CelibidacheI republish in today's "The Scales" a document I published in the papers: the stenogram of the fantastic press conference that was held in Bucharest on February 15, 1990 on the occasion of the tour of the Berlin Philharmonic in Romania. The press conference was hosted by Dan Grigore. Beside Sergiu Celibidache and several representatives of the Munich Philharmonic, there sat Horia Andreescu and Cristian Mandeal.Many Romanian and foreign journalists were present. For about two hours, Sergiu Celibidache answered the widest possible range of questions, from those concerning politics to questions about the repertoire, about his activity in Munich, about his impressions on Romanian art or on the Bucharest Philharmonic.Sarcastically, but also diplomatically, he actually repeated (even in the same very words) answers that we had been familiar with since the 1979 meeting. After half an hour I started a continuous dialogue with him, contradicting him and asking him to repeat some of his statements on famous conductors. I don't know to what extent I have been agreeable to the audience dominated by the latest fashion hats of some women journalists who are not known to me (dozens of them have appeared lately in our Bucharest, flooded by new publications – new titles appear every day), but Sergiu Celibidache, though continuously mocking at me, was delighted and gave me answers that clearly outlined his point of view.I doubt there exists a complete recording, as all questions were asked outside the range of the microphones and the only speaker whose words were recorded entirely was Sergiu Celibidache.The series of questions was opened by Viorel Cosma, who asked him to talk about the presence of the Munich Philharmonic in Bucharest.S.C. "It is a highly important tour, not only because of the spiritual value of such an event, not only because we offer Bucharest the opportunity to see one of the most interesting orchestras in the world, but also because we have arrived in a new Romania, that is now undergoing important changes. In December I listened 17 to 18 hours a day to the radio broadcasts and watched the television programmes, following the unfolding of the events in the country. My thoughts were with you. As far as I can see you are still oscillating.""What can you do for Romania?""Anything, anytime."Welcoming him on behalf of the Board of Music Critics, Smaranda Oteanu asked him to talk about the programme of the two concerts.S.C. "We have prepared them at very short notice. I don't know to what extent they represent us now. Starting tomorrow night we'll see if we have succeeded."Cristina Teodorescu, Neuer Weg: "Do you travel around the world with a stateless person's passport?""I was born a Romanian, I got old a Romanian and I will always stay a Romanian. I think that is very logical, isn't it?"V. Cojocaru: "Why didn't you come back to Romania after 1979?""Because I was lied to. Two weeks before the date we had established for the concerts and a course in the art of conducting, I was informed that my visit was to be postponed, the justification being that I don't know what performances had to be prepared for the 'Song of Romania' Festival. My schedule was consequently completely upset as I had to cancel my everyday activities and the lectures I gave at two universities. Therefore, I swore not to come back, though I have permanently missed Romania.""Why, this time again, didn't you include any piece by Enescu in the programme?"S.C. "Because, in my opinion, Enescu is not a representative composer.""Did you have the opportunity to meet him personally?""I was close to him a couple of times but he didn't mind me."Olga Daescu: "You said once that you needed to be free in order to make music.""I only said that you needed an inner freedom, that you needed to get rid of your prejudices. That is what I understand by the liberty of making music. And I would also add that there can be no music without liberty. Even when you listen to music you need to be free. As the process of thinking is placed outside time, as it is exclusively a present process, similarly, the essence of music is revealed through its present dimension.""Do the programmes of your Bucharest tour represent you?""They are not as I intended them to be. As I have already told you and I'll say it again, I only had five days for rehearsals."Silviu Gavrila: "Are the conditions met now for you to stay in Romania?""This has to do with politics. I was never involved in politics. I always hated to deal with politicians. I hated them as much as I loved music.""You have refused to be recorded. The technique of recording is continuously improving. Have you changed your opinions?""Not at all. The only lasting music is the one in the concert hall. Do you know what recordings are like? You love a girl, you want to go out with her. You fail and then you have to be content with watching her photo.I would come back to Enescu.His big mistake, you see, was that he studied in France. The French have the very same faults and qualities we have and these have been ' taken over' by Enescu."Actually, the French have only two great composers: Debussy and Ravel. It is only the great composers that awaken your musical ear.Enescu did not create anything. He is a mere imitator.Our folk music is extraordinary. It is still unexploited. Think of what Enescu's contemporary, Bartók managed to do of folk music, while Enescu…"Serban Nichifor: "I once listened to a symphonic piece composed by you. Why didn't you include it in the programme?" S.C.: "It was a mere amusement for a …night. I never dared include my own works."Marilena Gheciu: "What is your message for the Romanian artists abroad?"S.C.: " What Romanian artists abroad? Those who deserved to make a career did not assert themselves. Only a couple of singers are better known, but their notoriety is often based on criteria that have nothing to do with art."Elena Zottoviceanu: "Twenty years ago, when we met you in Prague you talked to us about your intentions of publishing your ideas in a book.""I'll never do that. Once an idea is written down on paper it loses any value. Words are multifaceted, symbolic, complex. When you write them down you kill the idea."Serban Nichifor: "What do you think of contemporary creation?S.C.: "It's fruitless. I once liked some of Horatiu Radulescu's ideas. Exceptional combinations of sounds. But then they stayed suspended. Music is sound becoming something. It's the passage from the material sound to the spiritual one. The sound is poison if it does not change into spirit."Serban Nichifor: "And Penderecki?"S.C.: "He is very ambitious. At the age of 90 he still wants to be in the front line. But he will not succeed."Iosif Sava: "You haven't been here since 1979. We always thought of you. In the early 1980's when television still offered music to the public we 'fed' on your recordings. Much has been written on you. Ferenc Laszlo recently published in a review in Cluj three studies on your activity in the 1930's. I said it once clearly: the rhythm of the Siret river pulsates in you. What do you owe to Romania?"S.C.: "Everything. Here are the sources of everything I am.""You often talked, throughout the years, about the 'limits' of Toscanini, Furtwängler, Karajan. Do you have the same opinions?" S.C. : "I never changed them for one moment. They all stayed far from music." "In 1979 you appreciated the Bucharest Philharmonic. You said that an oboist like Radu Chisu and a clarinetist like Aurelian Octav Popa are unique.""Talents like those of the Romanians have no match in the world. I wanted then, in 1979, to make the Bucharest Philharmonic the best orchestra in the world. It was a chimera.""The orchestra has now players of the same quality. Very gifted young people."S.C. :" I cannot do anything now. I am 78 years old and my future is linked to the Munich Philharmonic.""A couple of years ago I went to Roman. The only building of the inter-war period still standing in the centre of the town is the one where the Celibidaches used to live. The building now houses a music school. We spoke about 'Sound Celibidache' here. I am becoming increasingly convinced that a real 'Sound Celibidache' can only be achieved together with Romanian artists."S.C.: "I repeat. It's too late. God preserve us from those that delude themselves. Besides, who knows what is in store for you, politically speaking?" "Anyway we are rid of terror and totalitarianism for good."S.C.: "I don't know. I have my doubts for the moment.""Wouldn't you give a course in conducting in Sinaia?"S.C.: "The doctors have forbidden me to work in July and August. And such a course must be an international one. Young people from abroad cannot come at other times of the year. That is why I would rather give such courses abroad."I. Sava: "How come that a musician of your importance, having an exquisite scientific, mathematical training does not appreciate contemporary creations?"S.C.: "What annoys me most is the interference of science in the art of sounds. In music you must discover God. It was only then that you begin to believe in sounds.""How can you explain that your programmes include post-Romantic composers alone?"S.C.: "Such pieces are asked for when I am on tours. Because we accepted to play Bruckner our impresarios paid us double.""Why don't you approach Bach?"S.C.: "We've got a big orchestra. Bach must be played by 20 to 30 people."Ada Brumaru: "What is your opinion on Ansermet?"S.C.: "A very bad conductor. And a worthless theorist.""Do you appreciate Alban Berg?"S.C.: "A great talent who managed to resist the dogmas of dodecaphonic music. He dreamt, poor man, of the times when his pieces would be as popular as classical works. Show me a musician who can play one of Berg's ideas. Schönberg and all the representatives of the Vienna School are the victims of a parlour game which forced them to abide by the rules of dodecaphony."Iosif Sava: "I'll irritate you again."S.C.: "You think too high of yourself. Nobody can irritate me.""I know what you think of the generation of Toscanini, Furtwängler. There is also a long series of tremendously talented young musicians from Abbado to Levine."S.C.: "I never believed for one moment in talent. I only believe in training. And they have no training.""I can see in their art a great influence of Sergiu Celibidache's phenomenological conceptions."S.C.: "I can' t.""The differences are clear between the various generations of Romanian conductors, too. At present, those who are really gifted and efficient are those who worked with you and apply the principles of your art.""I'm glad to hear you say that. I'd like it to be true.""If I wrote a book about you, I would entitle it The Enigma of Celibidache."S.C.: "My art hides no enigma.""Maybe its great enigma is that of not acknowledging the art of fellow musicians."S.C. : "As long as they do not get to the old sources of a score I cannot acknowledge them."Silviu Gavrila: "Maybe you have a question for us, too."S.C.: "How did you endure starvation?"I. Sava: "I was told that in 1944 in Berlin you practiced yoga and you did not eat for days on."S.C.: "It's true that I only ate plants… That's why I enjoy a good health even today and my teeth are in a perfect condition." "Would you draw a portrait of yourself?""I know nothing about myself."I. Sava: "Do you consider yourself a pupil of Tiessen?" S.C.: "He was my only teacher." I. Sava: "Is he still alive?"S.C.: "No, he died recently."I. Sava: "Were you also his assistant?"S.C.: "During the war I was a substitute for many professors that were fighting on the front.""Why did you hand over the Berlin Philharmonic to Furtwängler in 1948?"S.C.: "I couldn't do otherwise. It was his instrument.""Would your destiny have been different if you had stayed in Berlin?"S.C.: "They would have 'eaten' me alive. For years on end I was objected to because I was not German.""Did you work with Anton Ciolan?"S.C.: "Never." Iosif SAVA (Contemporanul, Bucharest, October 11, 1996, p.14)  A non-conformist to the very endConductor Sergiu Celibidache dies, aged 84He was one of the most important conductors of this century, but also one of the most controversial ones. His uncompromising combativeness as a champion of music often made him forget any diplomatic reserve. He relished in his conflicts with the players of his orchestra and with other musicians – conductors or critics. His vituperations against Karl Böhm and others didn't necessarily made him more popular, but w