excerpt from 'Cellist- Gregor Piatigorsky' pp. 145-146 (363 words)

excerpt from 'Cellist- Gregor Piatigorsky' pp. 145-146 (363 words)

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Cellist- Gregor Piatigorsky

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When I entered the stage for rehearsal in Frankfurt-am-Main and saw Richard Strauss, it was a shock. He was the last person I expected to be the conductor. I thought that it was a mistake and that I was in the wrong town, but as I was about to retreat he called me. / "The Haydn Concerto," he said to the orchestra. After a few bars he stopped and said, "The tutti is too long. It's a concerto, not a symphony. We will make a cut." He counted the number of bars to be left out. "Let's try it." I listened to this impossible cut, but did not dare to protest. At the end of the first movement he asked me to play the entire cadenza. I did. "Who wrote it?" he asked. / I said, "It's mine". He murmured something that sounded like a compliment. After the cadenza of the second movement he asked with disgust, "Who wrote that?" This cadenza was also mine, but in my embarrassment I invented "Emil Schmorg." / "Schmorg? It's awful. I will write one for you right now. Gentlemen-intermission." / It was a long one. Strauss wrote with a pencil in my orchestra score (I still have it). When we were on the stage again he put the music in front of me, and after a few bars of the orchestra leading to the cadenza, I began to play it. There was a recitative after which, not believing my eyes, I saw the famous theme of Till Eulenspiegel. I played it. There was a roar of laughter. When it subsided, Strauss said, "I prefer the Schmorg". / Following the Haydn, everyone except me was in a fine mood for Don Quixote. I was very nervous. I had played it before, but was it the way the composer wanted it to be? / After the big solo variation in D minor there was a heavy silence. I didn’t dare look up at Strauss. “Why doesn’t he go on into the next variation?” I thought anxiously. Finally he said, “I have heard my Don Quixote as I thought him to be.” It was a supreme moment.

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excerpt from 'Cellist- Gregor Piatigorsky' pp. 145-146 (363 words)


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