Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Erich Leinsdorf's Birthday Was Yesterday

Supercilious and exacting, Erich Leinsdorf had a reputation for being a difficult conductor. He believed that there was an ideal interpretation out there for every piece, and the only way to realize it was to follow the score with exacting precision. The quixotic approach didn't win him many friends.

It's partly because of his prickly reputation that this clip of Leinsdorf announcing to a Boston Symphony audience that John F. Kennedy had died is so poignant:

WQXR recounted the concert in an article commemorating Leinsdorf's birthday; yesterday, he would have been 100.

His tenure at the BSO from 1962-1969 made Leinsdorf famous to US audiences, but he also spent eight seasons with the Rochester Philharmonic. No fan of Smugtown, Leinsdorf nonetheless led them in a handful of recordings on Columbia, including Beethoven's "Eroica," whose funeral march Leinsdorf and the BSO performed on that fateful day in 1963.

Random Classics has a transfer of the RPO version available to download for free.