The most perfect expression of human behavior is a string quartet.
In Hamburg, there are three major orchestras, an opera house, and one of the great concert-hall acoustics in Europe at the Laeiszhalle, in a town a fifth the size of London. And that's not unusual. In Germany, there are dozens of towns with two or three orchestras. The connection with music goes very, very deep.
I don't like to hurry. I'm not a conductor of the fast, fiery romantic type. I prefer Bruckner, with the sincerity of his musical language and the huge time spans in which his ideas develop, to Mahler, with his hysteria and self-indulgence.
People still call me the eternal amateur. After all, professionals are supposed to be able to conduct everything. But I can't unless I feel some connection inside. Conducting is not an end in itself for me.
I guess, as a conductor, one goes in and out of fashion. Your career starts with a bang, everyone thinks you're wonderful, and then with middle age, something happens and you go into the wilderness.
I was told when I went for a life-insurance exam when I was 18 that I was not likely to live past 50, so I refused to pay the premium.
What appeals to me about an American music directorship is the involvement of the conductor with the orchestra and the community. I think that's a fantastic thing. In Europe, being principal conductor means merely that you're the person who does most of the concerts. For me, that simply isn't enough.
Basically speaking, conducting is quite a healthy profession.
Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Berg imply a type of pianist who is intellectual. That's not always associated with female soloists.
I can't even touch another conductor's baton. The center of gravity, the feel of the handle, puts me totally off.
I had a sense of debt to the medical profession and to surgery particularly. I would not be as ambient as I am without it.
If people had told me that I would have the stamina to conduct 'Ring Cycles,' I would have been amazed. I still am.
On the grounds of prestigious musical organizations that come and go, New York has the edge.
So I observe life a little bit, rather than participating in it.
Concert-going has become much less the thing to do, while people are still going to opera. This might be a harsh judgment, but it could easily happen that orchestras could slowly atrophy.
I frequently find after a rehearsal of a performance that I have more breath, and can walk better and climb stairs better than I could before. It's as if I've expanded my lungs doing it. Basically speaking, conducting is quite a healthy profession.