Iván Fischer: The conductor is the symbol of the dictator
Fischer Iván úgy érzi, karmesterként mindent elért az életben. Az [origo]-nak elmondta, miért nem csökken soha a komolyzene közönsége, illetve hogyan hajthat valakit a büszkeség a zenei sikerek elérésében. Szó esik karrierépítésről és világ legjobb zenekaráról, elmondja, mi a különbség szerinte a sznob és a műértő között, illetve hol a giccs helye a művészetben. Elgázolja-e a metró a Fesztiválzenekart?
Is classical music in greater need of audience nowadays than ever? Does the hard core of the audience still consist of the generation of senior citizens?
There is no need to be afraid just because one can mostly see grey temples in the auditorium. This fact can be explained by many factors. For example, they are the ones who have time. This is not a joke. They have already worked a lot, they have married and divorced, they brought up their children. At around the age of fifty one recognises that the world does not only turn around him or her. At this age one is preoccupied by not only what else should be done and achieved. One begins to listen and pay attention to the outside world, starts to pay attention to a tree, a painting, a musical composition. And begins to go to concerts. This explains why the number of audience of classical music never decreases, but in stead is always reproduced.
Last time you invited the bicyclists to a midnight concert. Can Messiaen or Ravel be a calling word for the twentyagers nowadays? Can the young people be targeted with classical music?
Many of the young people like classical music, but the tickets are expensive and they can not identify themselves with the form of concert visited by their parents either. They better feel at home among the members of their own generation. At around midnight, the youngsters can be sure that they will not meet their ancestors. This is their event, because it takes place at a time when it is natural for them that something is going on. This explains why I invented the midnight concert, which became famous as Midnight Music.
Chocolate concerts, midnight concerts, music marathons… What is the objective?
The objective is to expand and spread music. Quality culture is the precondition or the hope of quality human life. We transmit civilisation.
Young people should listen to classical music because this way they can live a quality life?
I am not saying that they should, I am rather saying that they may. The need and the susceptibility for classical music are inherent to young people, but they might not as yet have the possibility to express and realise it. We are offering them this opportunity with the different forms of concerts.
What can be the motivating factor?
For example, pride. Music is a sector, to which Hungarian people might be proud of. We are a super power in music. We are present in the forefront of the world. As much as we are proud of the Olympic gold medals, we can be proud of those who convey Hungarian musical culture to the whole world.
However, music schools do not seem to follow this line. They rather train for performance and the motivating factor does not seem to be the joy of playing music together.
Our music system might be bleeding of several wounds, but it is still functioning well. It is a unique and exemplary Hungarian speciality that there is a building in almost every small town where the parents can take their children to learn music. There are very few other places in the world with such an opportunity.
How can we tell whether the audience consists of snobbish people or music experts?
I shall be concrete now; there are certain signs of it. I can hear how often they are coughing. I can hear that they are applauding, and then I can see the expression on their faces while they are sitting. If they are coughing a lot, that is the sign of the lack of attention. If the audience is quiet, I have the feeling that they are spellbound by the music. Just like the children, who, if they are not moving like a cat on hot bricks, but in stead are listening with a mouth wide open. The faces clearly show if there is boredom. If the eyes of the listeners are bright, if they follow the events, if they are looking at the viola players when they play, then there is no problem. All these are perfect signs of how much the audience takes part in the performance. Evidently, often enough I think that the problem lies on our side, that, probably, we were not good enough, if we failed to hold the audience and grasp their attention.
As a conductor, are you a dictator or a partner in the birth of the music?
By nature, and in every case, the conductor is an authority. Since the objective is, that one hundred people shall play the music the same way. This objective can only be realised if disciple reaches the maximum level, otherwise the performance will not be uniform. In this sense, the conductor is the symbol of a dictator. There is nothing wrong with it, because this is the only way to reach high-quality musical performance. How to reach good performance is another question. Some conductors give strict and rigid instructions, but I rather try to motivate the musicians and mobilise their fantasy and give an extensive ground and liberty to their ideas. By way of motivation it can be reached that the musicians take part in the creation of music also spiritually in stead of just fulfilling the orders and commands. Finally, the orchestra sounds the way I would like it to sound. But it is achieved via their spiritual participation.
You take part in the Mozart marathon of the Palace of Arts. When you play Mozart, how much are you influenced by the already fashionable historic way of playing his music?
I very much like the traditional way of music performance on old musical instruments, because I feel that there is an organic relationship between the musical instruments and the musical composition. This has definitely influenced the picture that was developed in me about Mozart. I can identify myself much more with this than with the Mozart ideal developed later, during the period of Romanticism. However, the adjective “historic” sounds a little bit problematic. It suggests as if we wanted to reconstruct how it was in those days. This attitude is not interesting, because the purpose of music is to carry the listeners into a certain mood. The target is the soul of the listener. Less legato is only the tool to achieve this objective.
What is the relationship of the present audience to Mahler? Why he was not really appreciated by his contemporaries?
Nowadays, we can better understand Mahler than fifty years ago. He was considered somewhat kitsch by his contemporaries. They did not understand that Mahler composed music of such elements which directly influenced him. Often enough, a musical composition consists of tiny little motives which are similar to collecting waste on the street and making a collage of them. There is real kitsch, and there is valuable musical composition consisting of and using elements of kitsch. I think there is a big difference between the two. Mahler is a great artist working with elements of kitsch.
What is the relationship between Iván Fischer the composer and Iván Fischer the conductor?
They are as different as night and day. As a conductor, I have achieved everything which can be achieved in this profession. I brought up the best orchestra of the world, and I have worked with the most famous orchestras. In this area I am only interested in the refinements. But I am a beginner as a composer, and I do not even want to stand up before the world. Of course, there are concerts where my music compositions are performed, but I rather try to dissuade those who think of it from doing so. I do music composition for myself; it is a passion, it is a hobby.
What kind of music do you compose?
Once we have talked about Mahler, I would say that my technique is similar to his. With this, of course, I do not want to compare myself to him; I can not even hold a candle to him. It is only the method which is similar. I gather impulses from here and there, and work with them. I am like a modern photographer, who glues to the photo different things made of different materials. It is a collage art. It might be the specific, characteristic feature of conductor-composers, because being a conductor, one deal with a number of different types of music, and their influences are present in the mind of the composer all the time. One simply can not get rid of them.
Did you work hard for your career?
I have never ever built a career in my life. I remember the time when, in London, I won an important conductor competition. I was twenty five year old then, I did not even have the right dark suit for the awarding ceremony. It was somewhat embarrassing, because I had to borrow a suit. Next day, the agencies came and they filled my calendar. I never did a strike of work for my career; I was interested in creating a good orchestra.
Due to the critical situation of the Budapest Transport Company, the metropolitan city has frozen a certain amount of money and withdrew certain subsidies. Did it come down hard on the Budapest Festival Orchestra?
Everybody keeps on asking me whether the house will now collapse on our head or not. It may happen. It is as if a building is about to collapse, and national heritage shall be escaped from the building. The positive side of the story is that every actor of the story works hard to find a solution. Consequently, I do not think that the metro or the bus will hit hard on the Festival Orchestra.