"yes we can part I" - these crazy americans

the story that caught my eye the most in this week's issue of the economist was the story of gilbert kaplan, who started the magazine 'institutional investor' after he left grad school at nyu/duke. he gathered these stock market type people to basically write about the market. he was the editor in chief for a while and then sold it for $72 million.

but this was the stunning demonstration of chutzpah. he heard a performance of mahler's second symphony, the one called "resurrection". in line with the principles of specialization of labour, he became so obsessed with it that he attended every performance of it, "met his wife at one", studied the score intensely, bought it (it helped that he was rich) and now conducts this symphony. so this rank amateur was able to become the foremost authority on this particular piece of work.

That an unskilled dreamer could teach professionals how to bring off a masterpiece is a fantasy that many share but few presume to achieve. Mr Kaplan, after his first performance, said: “I had a feeling that people in the audience were urging me to fulfil my dream. They were up with me on the podium that night, playing baseball for the Yankees, writing the book they never wrote or getting the girl they never got.”


of course oliver stone's w. has w. dreaming of playing baseball for the yankees.

anyway, i wonder what it takes to do something like that. conducting, especially, involves imposing your will/ideas on professionals. so gaining their respect must not be easy, esp if you have little professional experience yourself. but i wonder if really the secret is that he is a good leader/communicator so that he gets his passion/ideas across effectively. but really. maybe all that is required is the guts to stand up and take responsibility for something that you like... it sounds easy, but i would find it very difficult and stressful, for example. i might be too accommodating of opposing viewpoints, especially those of trusted musicians, so i don't think i could force through a vision with special clarity. i wish i had that ability. in a way, i think he has to be rather blind to all the initial skepticism.

the other theory is that he is a rubbish conductor of mahler, but he has a lot of journalist friends who are willing to big him up, because everyone loves an underdog, especially the media. and the other conductors are too nice to say anything.

still, whatever, he gets to command an orchestra. and if it were rubbish, i'm sure he'd know by the people not turning up.

i've been listening to mahler. him, mendelssohn and schumann (it is also the time for the annual lse concert, they are repeating mendelssohn's violin concerto and also playing egmont's overture by beethoven). he comes from the only period in classical music that i can appreciate, mainly because it is either intensely sad or insanely happy. as you can see, i don't have much musical knowledge/vocabulary. but what the heck. 

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