Thoughts on the Recording of Beethoven's Nine Symphonies - From a conversation with Rafael Kubelík

A life with Beethoven - probably almost every conductor could use this as the title for his autobiography, just as every pianist is involved with the 32 Piano Sonatas from childhood until old age. Has your view of Beethoven changed very much over the years?

Kubelík: That can't be answered "Yes" or "No". I first came into contact with Beethoven a very long time ago. As a child I persuaded my parents to give me scores of the Beethoven Symphonies ? Eulenburg pocket scores. I was able to read music before I could write or count; I read the scores in bed, under my desk at school ... The first impressions were tremendous - and they have remained ever since. They haven't altered very substantially. This is one of the insoluble problems of our existence: we seek something new, want to develop, gain experience, constantly study scores afresh, immerse ourselves in the composer and his work - but the first impression remains. It is this impression which creates a picture of the composer in us, solely through the "silent" music of the score, at a time when we often know nothing whatever about the person who wrote it. It is strange - or perhaps not so strange. One's first impression is generally confirmed by repeated readings of the score and listening, by playing the music oneself and by learning about the composer's life; the impression is deepened and enriched, but the first image remains.
Klaus Adam (translation: John Coombs)

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