The Lebrecht Interview

The Lebrecht Interview

In-depth, biographical portraits of pre-eminent classical musicians and artists interviewed by Norman Lebrecht. Frank, self-appraising and psychologically revealing, these 44 minute interviews include conductors, singers, broadcast weekly during the BBC Proms season, July to September. Lebrecht interviews this year include Riccardo Chailly, Marilyn Horne, Simone Young, Sir Roger Norrington and Joyce DiDonato. Weekly from July 19th 2010 for 8 weeks Lasting 44 minutes maximum.

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All episodes (24)

  • John Adams

    Mon, 3 Sep 12

    Duration:
    44 mins

    Norman Lebrecht talks to the American composer and conductor John Adams. Adams talks about his early years learning the clarinet and composing in his head as he did his paper round, his operas Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and Doctor Atomic, his experiences with US Homeland security, and his political views in this honest conversation.

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  • Riccardo Muti

    Mon, 27 Aug 12

    Duration:
    46 mins

    Norman Lebrecht talks to the celebrated Italian conductor Riccardo Muti.

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  • Andris Nelsons

    Mon, 20 Aug 12

    Duration:
    44 mins

    Norman Lebrecht talks to the young Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, currently music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

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  • Graham Vick

    Tue, 14 Aug 12

    Duration:
    45 mins

    Norman Lebrecht talks to the British opera director Graham Vick. Vick is one of the leading British directors. He works in all of the worlds' major opera houses directing the standard operatic repertoire and was for a number of years Director of Prodductions at Glyndebourne. But he is also director of the Birmingham Opera Company which he founded in 1987. It specialises in innovative and unusual productions of operas often in unusual venues such as factories or disused warehouses and this interview was recorded in Birmingham where Vick is currently in rehearsal for the British premiere of the complete version of Mittwoch part of Stockhausen's massive opera cycle, Licht. He talks to Norman about Stockhausen, about his approach to directing, his views on opera and about his background.

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  • Lilian Hochhauser

    Mon, 6 Aug 12

    Duration:
    45 mins

    Norman Lebrecht meets celebrated impresario Lilian Hochhauser, who along with her husband Victor, introduced British audiences to some of the greatest Russian musicians of all time, during the fraught period of soviet rule. Now in her eighties, Lilian - from a Jewish Ukrainian background - recalls the Cold War period which saw her and Victor pushing cultural and political boundaries to bring some of the most feted names in Russian music to Britain for the first time. Everyone from Rostropovich, Richter and Oistrakh through to The Borodin Quartet and the Kirov Ballet recieved their London debuts thanks to the Hochhausers.

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  • Ivan Fischer

    Mon, 30 Jul 12

    Duration:
    46 mins

    Norman Lebrecht meets Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer, who looks back on a career characterised by ground breaking musical achievements and occasional political controversy.

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  • Menahem Pressler

    Mon, 23 Jul 12

    Duration:
    46 mins

    Norman Lebrecht meets pianist Menahem Pressler, founder of one of the most prolific and influential piano trios of all time: The Beaux Arts.

    Download 21MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Gustavo Dudamel

    Mon, 16 Jul 12

    Duration:
    41 mins

    Norman Lebrecht in conversation with the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel

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  • Janet Baker

    Mon, 5 Sep 11

    Duration:
    45 mins

    In the last edition in this series, Norman Lebrecht talks to the great English singer, Dame Janet Baker. The Yorkshire-born mezzo-soprano has mostly been known for her performances in operas by Mozart, Monteverdi, Purcell and Berlioz. In the concert hall she was renowned for her lieder singing especially Mahler, as well as English music, in particular the works of Benjamin Britten with whom she was much associated. The clarity of Janet Baker's voice and the dramatic intensity of her performances have given her a legendary status in the international worlds of opera and song.

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  • Edward Gardner

    Mon, 29 Aug 11

    Duration:
    47 mins

    Edward Gardner is the Music Director of English National Opera and about to become Principal Guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He talks to Norman Lebrecht about his career to date. Gardner was appointed to the post at ENO in 2007 while in his early 30s and began by conducting a new production of Britten's Death in Venice. Since taking up the baton at ENO he has been involved with the planning of the company's repertoire and has conducted new productions of operas by Saariaho, Verdi, Bartok and Puccini. He talks about the challenges the company faces. How it has improved its image and work after a period of decline and argues with Norman about the continuance of the company's policy of performing operas in English.

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  • Monica Mason

    Tue, 23 Aug 11

    Duration:
    47 mins

    Dame Monica Mason has spent all of her working life at the Royal Ballet in London. Now 70 she is about to start her final season as Director of the Royal Ballet. In conversation with Norman Lebrecht she talks frankly and warmly of the experiences her various roles in the company have given her.

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  • Valery Gergiev

    Mon, 15 Aug 11

    Duration:
    46 mins

    Norman Lebrecht meets the conductor Valery Gergiev, head of the Kirov Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, and Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the World Orchestra for Peace. Gergiev also runs festivals in Russia, Holland, Israel and around the Baltic, and was recently charged with re-launching the historic Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and St Petersburg. Undoubtedly one of the busiest musicians on the planet, Gergiev has been criticised for skimping on rehearsal and detail; he has also been accused of having too intimate a relationship with Russian power. In this extended and wide-ranging interview recorded at Gergiev's Festival in Mikkeli, Finland, Gergiev tells Norman about his childhood in Ossetia and his reaction to the death of his father when he was just 14; his own very special method of fund-raising; his controversial relationship with Vladimir Putin; and just what drives him to live life at his famously frenetic pace.

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  • Richard Rodney Bennett

    Mon, 8 Aug 11

    Duration:
    44 mins

    In conversation with Norman Lebrecht, composer, pianist and singer Richard Rodney Bennett talks frankly about his life, his reasons for the different musical directions he has taken and why he no longer composes nor is interested in new music.

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  • Thomas Quasthoff

    Mon, 1 Aug 11

    Duration:
    44 mins

    Norman Lebrecht meets the German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff, widely considered to be one of the finest lieder singers performing today. Although only four feet tall, with very short arms - Quasthoff's mother was prescribed thalidomide during pregnancy - Quasthoff is nevertheless a towering presence on the stage. In this extensive and wide-ranging interview, Quasthoff reflects on his happy childhood, his very close relationship with his brother Michael (who died of cancer last year), and the challenges of rebuilding his marriage after its apparent collapse. Having said some years ago that he wouldn't return to the operatic stage, Quasthoff tells Norman how he's been lured back, and how his fundamental optimism has remained intact.

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  • Deborah Borda

    Mon, 25 Jul 11

    Duration:
    44 mins

    Norman Lebrecht is joined by Deborah Borda, Chief Executive Officer of the hugely successful Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her career has also spanned a range of the great American institutions, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Detroit and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She has a reputation for toughness and a creative approach to managing in often difficult circumstances. She talks about the future of the American symphony orchestra and reveals her approach to dealing with crises that frequently befall arts organisations.

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  • Semyon Bychkov

    Mon, 18 Jul 11

    Duration:
    44 mins

    In the first of a series of interviews with prominent musicians, writer and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht talks to one of the world's most sought after conductors, Semyon Bychkov. Born in Russia, growing up during the Soviet era, he finished his education in the United States. He talks about living in poverty in Leningrad, crammed into a single room with his parents and brother, and having to share a bathroom with several families. He describes himself as obsessive about music, yet denies ever being a control freak. Married to pianist Marielle Labeque, he also discusses his difficult relationship with his brother, Yakov Kreizberg who died earlier this year.

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  • Patrice Chereau

    Mon, 6 Sep 10

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Norman Lebrecht talks to the French film, theatre and opera director Patrice Chereau. He talks about his work including his controversial production of Wagner's Ring at Bayreuth.

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  • Clive Gillinson

    Mon, 30 Aug 10

    Duration:
    45 mins

    Sir Clive Gillinson is Norman Lebrecht's guest. Formerly a cellist in the London Symphony Orchestra he later ran the LSO and is now Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall in New York.

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  • Stephen Kovacevich

    Mon, 23 Aug 10

    Duration:
    45 mins

    The American pianist Stephen Kovacevich talks to Norman Lebrecht about his career, his move to England, his studies with Myra Hess and the musicians and composers he admires.

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  • Joyce DiDonato

    Mon, 16 Aug 10

    Duration:
    45 mins

    Norman Lebrecht meets the acclaimed American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. The sixth child of an Irish Catholic family in Prairie Village, Kansas, she married young and was almost thirty before anyone was prepared to back her talent. In the decade since then, she has taken on mezzo roles in Rossini and Handel with a wide-eyed zest that audiences find irresistible, and an openness that appears to be innate. The very model of a 21st-century communicator, Joyce DiDonato writes a chatty blog and decorates it with photographs that she snaps wherever she goes. She tells Norman Lebrecht about her early life in Kansas, her studies in Philadelphia and Houston, and how she bounced back from a string of rejections to become one of the world's great operatic stars.

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  • Roger Norrington

    Mon, 9 Aug 10

    Duration:
    45 mins

    Sir Roger Norrington has been one of the major movers and shakers on the classical music scene for nearly half a century. He founded the Schutz Choir and the London Classical Players, and was Music Director of Kent Opera for 15 years before taking his place on the podium with some of the great orchestras of Europe and America. The son of an Oxford Vice-Chancellor, Norrington was put to work in academic publishing before the musical imperative took over. His approach differed from other historically informed leaders, concentrating less on old instruments and more on texture of sound. He has outlasted many of his noisier contemporaries, a fact more remarkable since he was told two decades ago that he'd developed a brain tumour and had only months to live. Norrington talks to Norman Lebrecht about his early years growing up in Oxford and Canada, how he made the decision to become a musician, and how he battled ill health to come through fighting.

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  • Simone Young

    Mon, 2 Aug 10

    Duration:
    44 mins

    Simone Young is Music Director at the Hamburg Opera and is seen as one of the most vibrant and exciting conductors of her generation. She talks to Norman Lebrecht about her career.

    Download 21MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Marilyn Horne

    Mon, 26 Jul 10

    Duration:
    44 mins

    Norman Lebrecht talks to the American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, tracing her career from precocious Shirley Temple sound-alike, to pirate recordings of pop songs in the 1950s, to dubbing the title role in the movie of the Oscar Hammerstein musical Carmen Jones, and finally the breakthrough to the major mezzo Bel Canto roles of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti for which she was justly famed. She also talks about her experience of early masterclasses with the veteran singer Lotte Lehmann and how the sometimes unhappy experience of that has influenced her approach to helping young singers and teaching masterclasses in her retirement. She discusses her relationship with other musicians such as Stravinsky, Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge. In her frank and direct manner she also reveals to Norman Lebrecht the difficulties she had with her family when she married the black conductor Henry Lewis.

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  • Riccardo Chailly

    Mon, 19 Jul 10

    Duration:
    45 mins

    In the first of this year's Lebrecht Interviews, Norman meets the Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly. For more than 30 years, Chailly has been one of Europe's most important conductors, whose career has taken him from the opera house in Bologna to the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and most recently the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. Yet some would say the Chailly story begs more questions than it answers. Although fluent in English, he's never held a major post in Britain or America; his moves have often been jagged and contentious, at odds with his calm and smiling persona. He talks to Norman about working with the likes of Pavarotti, Abbado and Karajan, his decision to leave Amsterdam (the first conductor ever to walk away from the Concertgebouw), the death of his father, and the possibility of a future post with a major American orchestra.

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