Indiana University Summer Festival Orchestra guest conductor David Robertson finished high school in California and went to England for his initial training. He observes that, "for a conductor, most of the education has to be on-the-job training."
"Much of mine came in Europe with stops on the continent, in Israel and in Scandinavia. Most were of short duration. If you looked at my resume you might conclude that I couldn't hold a job. Of course I could, and today I'm based in Saint Louis in my fifth season with the orchestra."
Critics have praised Robertson as a master programmer and George Walker asked him about the concert at Indiana University. Robertson had special things to say about his choice of "Francesca da Rimini" by Tchaikovsky.
"This work too often sits on the shelf because of its length. It's twenty-five minutes long which is too short for the second half of a concert and too long for the opener. But, not only is it good Tchaikovsky, it's a work that contains special beauties that you won't find anywhere else."
In our interview we skipped over Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead," to focus on Robertson's thoughts about Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4. "Nielsen wrote this symphony during the depths of the brutal trench warfare of World War 1. It was during a period when all of Europe sat appalled at the dreadful agonies of what had become a grotesque sort of mud wrestling. He might have thrown up his hands and written of the sorrow and the agony, but he chose not to."
"Nielsen titled his work "The Inextinguishable" as he sought to dramatize that part of the human spirit that would not submit and that might triumph in a terrifically dramatic symphony with a wonderfully involving and moving conclusion."
Musical Arts Center, 8pm
Thursday July 2, 2009