The Lebrecht Interview

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20080825

Philharmonia Orchestra principal conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi talks to Norman Lebrecht about his eventful musical career.

Grandson of the composer Erno von Dohnanyi and nephew of the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dohnanyi grew up in the Austro-German tradition of music making.

His first appointment as music director was in Lubeck and he later went on to positions in Frankfurt, Hamburg and, most famously, with the Cleveland Orchestra for two decades.

He discusses working with eminent conductors including Solti, Bernstein and Karajan.

20080909

Norman Lebrecht talks to the conductor Neville Marriner about his long career directing the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and other ensembles.

Andris Nelsons20120820

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

Born in Riga to musical parents Nelsons cites one of his earliest formative musical experiences as a performance of Wagner's Tannhauser which his parents took him to when he was just 5. He later took up the trumpet and eventually became a professional player in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra. He had conducting lessons with Neeme Jarvi and then came to the attention of Mariss Jansons whilst playing on tour with the Oslo Philharmonic and subsequently had lessons with him.

He eventually rose to become chief conductor of the Latvian National Opera at the age of 25 and it was there he met his future wife the soprano Kristine Opolais.

Nelsons has conducted at the Met, the Royal Opera House and at Bayreuth where he made his debut in 2010 with a new production of Lohengrin and where he returned this year.

In 2007 he became Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra having previously only conducted them in a private concert and a recording session, never at any public concerts. His present contract with them runs to 2014 and he appears with them at the BBC Proms this week.

Andris Nelsons20120820

Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, music director of the CBSO, talks to Norman Lebrecht.

Deborah Borda20110725

's is 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 of toughness and a creative approach to managing in often difficult circumstances.

She talks to Norman Lebrecht about the future of the American symphony orchestra and reveals her approach to dealing with crises that frequently befall arts organisations.

Norman Lebrecht is joined by Deborah Borda, who runs the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Edward Gardner20110829

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.

He was born in Gloucester and began his musical life as a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral.

He later went to Eton where he enjoyed the music making and education and then went to Cambridge where he says he enjoyed the conducting and performing that he did there rather than the more academic side of the course.

The Royal Academy of Music followed but before leaving he was already working in the summer at the Salzburg Festival as a repetiteur encountering some of the leading conductors and operatic productions of the time.

This experience has influenced some of his choices at ENO.

He then worked with Mark Elder at the Halle Orchestra.

So choral music and opera were both at the heart of his musical training.

In 2004, before he was thirty, he was invited to be Music Director of Glyndebourne Touring Opera, an experience, he says which gave him the opportunity to conduct operas like La Boheme 20 times in different venues and acoustics around the UK.

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.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Norman Lebrecht talks to music director of English National Opera Edward Gardner.

Franco Zeffirelli20080901

Norman Lebrecht talks to Italian opera and film director Franco Zeffirelli, who speaks candidly of the early loss of his mother, his relationship with fellow film-maker Luchino Visconti, the experience of directing Joan Sutherland and Maria Callas, and the reasons behind Maria Callas's volatile temper.

Graham Vick20120814

Norman Lebrecht talks to the British opera director Graham Vick.

Graham Vick20120814

Norman Lebrecht talks to the British opera director Graham Vick whilst in rehearsals in Birmingham for Stockhausen's massive opera Mittwoch. 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 cycle, Licht.

He talks to Norman about Stockhausen, about his approach to directing, his views on opera and about his background.

Producer Paul Frankl.

Gustavo Dudamel20120716

Norman Lebrecht in conversation with the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

The Lebrecht Interview is the interview series that runs during the Proms season in which the writer and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht talks to key figures in the world of classical music.

Today, Norman is in conversation with the Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

Dudamel is a walking advertisement for the success of the extraordinary El Sistema music education project in which poor children in Venezuela are given the opportunity and financial support to train in an orchestra. A product of that system, Gustavo Dudamel has become a byword for joyous, passionate music making, his concerts celebrated almost as religious events. In this interview, Norman Lebrecht talks to the man behind the hype. How heavily does Dudamel feel the weight of reputation?

Ian Bostridge20090818

Norman Lebrecht talks to tenor Ian Bostridge.

Originally an academic specialising in English witchcraft in the 17th and 18th centuries, Bostridge burst onto the music scene in 1995 at the age of 30, rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after voices in the business.

Celebrated on the operatic stage for Mozart, Monteverdi and Britten, in recital he is widely regarded as one of the great exponents of the German lied, particularly Schubert and Wolf.

In a wide-ranging and penetrating interview, Bostridge reveals the soul-searching behind his decision to leave academia behind in favour of music, his anxiety about acting on stage and why he nearly abandoned his role in Thomas Ades' opera The Tempest because he found it so difficult.

Ivan Fischer20120730

Norman Lebrecht meets Hungarian conductor Ivan Fischer.

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

Fischer recalls his elite musical education under communism, singing as a boy in the opera house where Gustav Mahler was once director. Being taught by both Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Hans Swarowsky during his studies in Vienna, where he initially set out to become a cellist, gave Fischer a unique musical perspective. He remembers what made both teachers great and how they impacted in his later decision to found The Budapest Festival Orchestra, alongside gifted pianist and countryman Zoltán Kocsis. Fischer describes the jealousy and bad feeling which initially greeted the new orchestra, and why his relationship with Kocsis deteriorated. He talks frankly about his discomfort with Kocsis's perceived closeness to Hungary's rightist political regime, and why he will continue to speak out against it.

Iván Fischer has always been musically motivated by change: the desire to alter the status quo and unlock the potential of the musicians he conducts - he speaks passionately about what he sees as the crisis being faced by the modern symphony orchestra, and how they need to be reinvented or face extinction.

Janet Baker20110905

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.

Norman Lebrecht talks to celebrated mezzo-soprano Janet Baker.

John Adams20120903

Norman Lebrecht talks to the American composer and conductor John Adams in the week that he conducts his opera Nixon in China at the BBC Proms.

Adams who was born in Massachusetts is one of the most celebrated composers alive. Many of his pieces are in the repertory, including his operas Nixon in China, the Death of Klinghoffer and his opera about Robert Oppenheimer, Doctor Atomic all of which receive stagings around the world and all of which he talks about in this interview.

Adams also talks about his early years learning the clarinet, imagining music in his head as he did his paper round and starting to conduct and compose.

Adams turned down the chance to go to Tanglewood to learn conducting and instead drove to the West Coast to broaden his experiences. Here he encountered some of the early minimalist composers and was involved in performing concerts of music by John Cage. As he developed his artistic personality Adams rejected both Cage's ethos and that of the modernists. Adams has always been concerned with music as expressing feeling and was as open to influences from rock and pop music as he was to music of classical composers. In this sense he believes his openness to a variety of influences makes him closer to a fellow New Englander, Charles Ives.

John Adams also tells Norman about his experiences with the US Homeland security, and how he was blacklisted and about his political views in this honest conversation.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Composer and conductor John Adams talks to Norman Lebrecht about his life and work.

John Tomlinson20090907

Norman Lebrecht talks to one of the most successful singers of his generation, John Tomlinson.

The Lancashire-born bass is recognised as one of the finest performers on the international opera stage.

He is particularly renowned for his Wagnerian roles: Wotan, Hagen and Hans Sachs, and also as Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Strauss' Baron Ochs.

Tomlinson learnt his craft singing in the chorus at Glyndebourne and as a member of the repertory company at English National Opera, where he worked with Reginald Goodall.

In 1988 he made his debut at Bayreuth in the Barenboim/Kupfer Ring as Wotan, an experience he sees as one of the highlights of his career.

He talks about his background, the success at Bayreuth and creating roles in operas by Birtwistle.

Norman Lebrecht talks to bass John Tomlinson.

Jonathan Miller20090831

Norman Lebrecht talks to Jonathan Miller, a high-profile figure in British arts and intellectual circles whose work over the years has embraced medicine, satire, religion, television, theatre and opera direction.

Coming from a London Jewish background with a father who was a pychiatrist and a mother who was a writer, Miller initially went into medicine before becoming involved in the 60s satirical movement along with Peter Cook and Alan Bennett.

This led to an invitation to work in television and then the theatre before he made his debut in the 70s directing opera.

But Miller never left medicine behind, working on TV series like the Body in Question and Madness which reached large audiences in the UK and America.

Miller reflects on the way his career has been borne out of a series of invitations, his feelings about his Jewish upbringing, the world of opera and his atheism.

Norman Lebrecht talks to Jonathan Miller about his career, opera and atheism.

Joyce Didonato20100816

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.

Norman Lebrecht meets celebrated American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

Lilian Hochhauser20120806

Norman Lebrecht meets celebrated impresario Lilian Hochhauser.

Lilian Hochhauser20120806

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.

Marilyn Horne20100726

Marilyn Horne2010072620160116 (R3)

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.

Marilyn Horne2010072620160116 (R3)

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.

Marilyn Horne20100726

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.

Norman Lebrecht talks to American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.

Menahem Pressler20120723

Norman Lebrecht meets the pianist Menahem Pressler, founder of The Beaux Arts Trio.

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

Pressler looks back on a career which began in Nazi Germany, before he emigrated to Israel in 1939 and went on to win The Debussy Piano Competition in 1946. He recalls the teachers who helped him as a young pianist, including a German who defied the Nazi regime in continuing to teach him after it became illegal to do so, and his lessons with celebrated pianists Egon Petri and Leo Kestenberg.

Pressler remembers how he formed The Beaux Arts Trio with violinist Daniel Guilet and cellist Bernard Greenhouse almost by accident while living in New York, before making their debut at Boston's Tanglewood concert hall in 1955. He reflects on the trio's changing personnel, which has seen Pressler as the one constant member while five violinists and two cellists have come and gone. Still performing now at the age of eighty eight and a renowned teacher and mentor to top chamber musicians like the Emerson and Ebène String Quartets - Menhem Pressler reflects on what makes a great chamber group and how music has sustained him throughout a long and distinguished career.

Michael Kaiser
Monica Mason20110823

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.

Born in South Africa she first encountered ballet in Johannesburg and began to dance.

After the sudden death of her father when she was just 13 she tells Norman how her mother brought her to London where they lived frugally in a bedsit in Finsbury Park.

Monica got a place at the Royal Ballet School and then unexpectedly was put in the company.

Here she immediately encountered some of the great figures in international ballet whom she talks about in this interview..

The founder of the Royal Ballet was Dame Ninette de Valois who was then at the helm and a figure who fought for the company throughout the war years but who inspired fear in many.

Frederick Ashton was the founder choreographer of the company and later held the post of Artistic Director.

Monica Mason tells of dancing in his full length ballet Ondine to music by Henze which he found difficult to work to, but generally she was not one of his favourite dancers.

Monica also talks about Margot Fonteyn who for many years danced many of the best roles and continued past the normal age when dancers retire partly due to the arrival of Rudolf Nureyev with whom she formed a memorable partnership.

Mason also talks of dancing with Nureyev herself.

She found a more direct working partnership with Ashton's successor Kenneth Macmillan who built his version of Rite of Spring around her.

Macmillan was a troubled man subject to dark moods who, when he discovered Monica was considering leaving as her dancing years came to an end, persuaded her to stay as his assistant.

She agreed and worked closely with him and was there when he died suddenly backstage during an evening performance.

Monica Mason remained during the difficult years of the 90s when the Royal Opera House went through a troubled period, continuing as assistant to Norman Morrice, Anthony Dowell and then Ross Stretton.

And it was only after Stretton's sudden dismissal that she went into the role of Director herself, at first she thought, on a temporary basis.

Soon after she was offered the job.

She reflects on her experiences as Director and how she has tried to move the company on, appointing Wayne McGregor as resident choreographer and commissioning a new full length ballet from Christopher Wheeldon.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Norman Lebrecht talks to director of the Royal Ballet Monica Mason.

Patrice Chereau20100906

Now 65, Patrice Chereau is one of the most highly regarded French directors.

He began his career directing at his Lycee and running a theatre in the Parisian suburbs in the 1960s.

Not long after he was invited to Italy and to Germany initially directing plays by the classic dramatists.

His first job in opera was a work by Rossini at Spoleto but the occasion which caused the greatest controversy was in 1976 at Bayreuth when he directed Wagner's Ring Cycle with Pierre Boulez conducting.

Chereau was not the first choice - Ingmar Bergman and Peter Brook were asked but both turned it down.

Then, after Peter Stein accepted but then withdrew, Boulez approached Chereau.

His production was deemed controversial in its setting, drawing as it did, heavily on the years of the 19th century Industrial Revolution and many staunch Wagnerites were incensed that the centenary Ring should be in the hands of a French production team.

But the production is now seen as hugely influential in the effect it had on opera directors all over the world.

It was widely seen on television in this country and abroad.

Patrice Chereau talks candidly to Norman Lebrecht in this interview recorded at his home in Paris about the Bayreuth experience including the hostility of the audience and the problems caused by his late appointment as director.

He also talks about the works which attract him: Wozzeck and Lulu by Berg and Janacek's From The House of The Dead, all of which deal with difficult and sometimes expressionistic subject matter.

And about some of his films which deal with issues of sexuality including L'Homme blesse and Son Frere.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Norman Lebrecht talks to French film, theatre and opera director Patrice Chereau.

Riccardo Chailly20100719

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.

The son of a well-known Italian composer and music administrator, his 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.

Aged 57, Chailly specialises in the masterpieces of the symphonic repertoire and the summits of Italian opera.

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.

Norman Lebrecht talks to Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly.

Riccardo Muti20120827

Norman Lebrecht talks to the great Italian conductor, Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Muti's career has spanned key orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra, the orchestra of La Scala in Milan and the Vienna Philharmonic. Elegant and erudite, this is the first extended interview Riccardo Muti has given the BBC. He reveals his thoughts and feelings about Verdi and Rossini, about his professional relationship with his mentor, Herbert von Karajan, and about his sense of being an 'outsider' in the world of music, a normal man with an extraordinary job.

Riccardo Muti20120827

Celebrated Italian conductor Riccardo Muti talks to Norman Lebrecht.

Richard Rodney Bennett20110808

is a contemporary of Birtwistle and Maxwell Davies but his musical life has pursued a very different path.

From his childhood onwards music was there for him.

His mother was a pupil of Holst while his father wrote children's books and ballad lyrics.

But his frailty meant that the young Richard was sent to boarding school, so he hardly knew him.

Bennett's musical mind was inquisitive from the start and after reading about her he approached the composer Elisabeth Lutyens for lessons.

She invigorated him further.

Soon after he went to the Royal Academy of Music but this didn't give him the stimulus he needed although it was there that he met one of his best friends Cornelius Cardew.

Together they wanted to find out about the new music which was being written in the 1940s and 50s.

For a while he was the only pupil of Pierre Boulez, and with Cardew he visited Darmstadt in Germany where the new music supremos of the era met and had their works performed.

His prowess as a pianist meant he was called upon to play some of the more challenging music by Boulez, Stockhausen and others.

But in parallel with this he was writing film scores and continuing to play jazz with friends.

So already at the age of twenty his musical life was eclectic to say the least.

In the late 50s and 60s his compositional career burgeoned with commissions and performances all over the world.

His film scores included Far from the Madding Crowd, Nicholas and Alexandra and Murder on the Orient Express all of which earned him Oscar nominations.

In 1979 after the breakdown of a love affair and with the pressure of responsibilities in the music world proving too much, Bennett moved to New York where he has lived ever since.Now 75 Bennett enjoys his life spent between New York and London, singing with his regular collaborator Clare Martin.

In conversation with Norman Lebrecht 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.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Classical music critic Norman Lebrecht talks to composer Richard Rodney Bennett

Roger Norrington20100809

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.

Norman Lebrecht talks to pioneering conductor Roger Norrington

Semyon Bychkov20110718

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.

Producer, Jeremy Evans.

Norman Lebrecht talks to one of the world's most sought-after conductors - Semyon Bychkov.

Simone Young20100802

is an Australian conductor whose career has centred around the opera world and conducting the great Austro-German symphonic works.

She appeared as a judge in the BBC TV series Maestro and has conducted here occasionally.

She is currently Music Director of the Hamburg opera but her career began in her native country where she learnt the basics of her craft under a variety of mentors including Richard Bonynge and Stuart Challender at Opera Australia.

Taking their advice she went to Europe and became assistant to a number of conductors including Daniel Barenboim whom she worked with on Wagner at Bayreuth.

She later became the first woman to conduct both at the Vienna State Opera and the Paris Opera.

She was Music Director at Australian Opera in the early 2000s but left after a dispute over funding and artistic standards.

Hamburg followed where she will remain in her post until 2015.

Simone Young talks to Norman about the prejudice she has encountered as a woman her musical tastes and her research in the archives at Bayreuth.

Approaching 50 she is widely tipped to get one of the forthcoming vacancies in the major opera houses but notwithstanding these opportunites, she considers her priority now to be how she can develop her ability to concentrate on artistic concerns principally the music.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Norman Lebrecht talks to Australian conductor Simone Young.

Sir Clive Gillinson20100830

began his musical life as a cellist, holding positions in the Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra.

When that orchestra got into financial difficulties in the 1980s he was asked to become Managing Director.

He held the position for twenty years, turning around the fortunes of the orchestra and establishing relationships with some of the leading conductors like Michael Tilson Thomas, Mstislav Rostropovich and Sir Colin Davis.

He also helped plan some of the most innovative and succesful concert series in London musical life, developed the orchestra's education department and established LSO St Luke's in a previously derelict church.

Gillinson was also behind of the launch of the LSO's own CD label.

In 2005 he became Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall in New York one of the leading concert venues in the world.

It actually consists of three halls and presents hundreds of events every year.

Clive Gillinson talks to Norman Lebrecht about his life and career, the challenges he's faced in his various orchestral roles and the differences between working in the arts in the UK and America.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

Norman Lebrecht is joined by Clive Gillinson, artistic director of Carnegie Hall.

Stephen Hough2009082420100418

The pianist Stephen Hough is regarded as one of the most exciting British musicians of his generation.

His career takes him around the world and he has won many awards for his recordings.

His compositions include a Cello Concerto and a Mass for Westminster Cathedral.

But music is just one part of his life.

Hough is a Roman Catholic who converted while in his teens having been brought up in a Protestant family.

Religion plays a major part in his life and he has published one book The Bible As Prayer and numerous articles on theological issues.

He also regularly discusses the issues of being a gay Catholic.

In this interview with Norman Lebrecht Stephen Hough talks about these issues and about repertoire, his early life and his near death experience in a car accident.

Norman Lebrecht talks to Stephen Hough, one of the most popular pianists working today.

Normal Lebrecht talks to pianist Stephen Hough, who is regarded as one of the most exciting British musicians of his generation.

In the 2009 Proms season, he performs the complete works of Tchaikovsky for piano and orchestra.

He also composes music and his works include a cello concerto and a Mass for Westminster Cathedral.

But music is just one part of Hough's life - he is a Roman Catholic who converted while in his teens, having been brought up in a Protestant family.

Religion plays a major part in his life and he has published one book - The Bible As Prayer - as well as numerous articles on theological issues.

In this interview Hough talks about these issues and about repertoire, his early life and his near death experience in a car accident.

Stephen Kovacevich20100823

Norman Lebrecht talks to the American born pianist Stephen Kovacevich in the year of his 70th birthday.

Originally from Los Angeles, Kovacevich's father was Croatian and his mother American.

After studying with the Russian pianist Lev Schorr he won a scholarship which brought him to London where he met and studied with Dame Myra Hess.

She helped him develop the sound he made at the keyboard.

In 1961 he hired the Wigmore Hall and made an acclaimed debut in music by Berg, Bach and Beethoven: the Diabelli Variations.

This was the real start of his career in public which continues to this day.

His recordings date back to the 1960s when he made acclaimed concerto recordings of the Beethoven and Bartok Concertos with Colin Davis and of Beethoven Cello Sonatas with Jacqueline Du Pre, both artists he admires greatly.

More recently his latest recording of the Diabelli Variations has garnered praise.

He has mainly confined himself to the great Classical pianist composers, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms with occasional forays into the twentieth century though he's never played the music of Rachmaninov in public, the pianist he most admires.

Throughout his playing life Kovacevich has suffered badly from nerves and he talks frankly about this and the way his more recent conducting career has helped him to deal with them.

Producer Tony Cheevers.

American pianist Stephen Kovacevich talks to Norman Lebrecht about his career.

Thomas Quasthoff20110801

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.

Producer Emma Bloxham.

Classical music critic Norman Lebrecht talks to German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff.

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.

Valery Gergiev20110815

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.

Producer Emma Bloxham.

Classical music critic Norman Lebrecht talks to conductor Valery Gergiev.

Vladimir Ashkenazy2009081020100425

Norman Lebrecht talks to Russian pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy.

One of the world's best-known musicians, he describes himself as one of the luckiest people alive, and talks about his 'accidental' exile to the West.

He describes his recruitment to and subsequent sacking by the KGB, as well as how arthritis has affected his piano playing.

And he tells Norman he still has one unfulfilled dream - to conduct opera.

One of the world's best known musicians, Vladimir Ashkenazy, in conversation with Norman Lebrecht.

In a bright, humorous and optimistic 45 minutes, Ashkenazy describes himself as one of the luckiest people alive.

He talks about his 'accidental' exile to the West.

He describes his recruitment to and subsequent sacking by the KGB, and he considers how he now doesn't play live because of arthritis and misshapen fingers.

(Rpt)

Producer: Jeremy Evans.

William Christie20100411

Norman Lebrecht talks to William Christie, conductor and founder of the early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants.

An American now living in France, Christie talks about the draw of European music making.

He reflects on the affect of the Vietnam War on his career and reveals the bullying methods of his teacher Ralph Kirkpatrick.

He also considers the sometimes difficult working relationships with some of his colleagues and how nervousness, stress and anxiety have had a detrimental affect on his health.

Norman Lebrecht talks to William Christie, conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants.

0120080916
01Kurt Masur20070716

Norman Lebrecht in conversation with the conductor Kurt Masur, who celebrates his 80th birthday this Wednesday.

In an in-depth interview, Masur talks about his 26 years as director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in former East Germany and the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall, his stormy 11 years at the New York Philharmonic and his current role in Paris as conductor of the French National Orchestra.

01Natalie Dessay * *20080721

Norman Lebrecht in conversation with French soprano Natalie Dessay, whose performances in bel canto roles have won her awards and brought her international acclaim.

However, her career was threatened seven years ago, when she developed a problem with her vocal cords that required surgery.

In a revealing interview, she speaks candidly to Norman Lebrecht about that experience, about her need to be on stage to escape real life, explaining why she's happiest when rehearsing, her desire to revolutionise the operatic world and her conversion to the Jewish faith.

01The Lebrecht Interview, William Christie20090720

Norman Lebrecht talks to William Christie, conductor and founder of the early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants.

An American now living in France, Christie talks about the draw of European music making.

He reflects on the affect of the Vietnam War on his career and reveals the bullying methods of his teacher Ralph Kirkpatrick.

He also considers the sometimes difficult working relationships with some of his colleagues and how nervousness, stress and anxiety have had a detrimental affect on his health.

Norman Lebrecht talks to William Christie, conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants.

0220080923
02Dietrich Fischer-dieskau20070723

Norman Lebrecht interviews one of the finest lieder singers of his generation.

Fischer-Dieskau talks candidly about his time in the Hitler Youth; as a prisoner of war in Italy where he gave his first recitals; his legendary recordings of song cycles with Gerald Moore; working with prominent conductors Klemperer and Szell; and his views on music and singers today.

02Steve Reich * * *20080728

Norman Lebrecht talks to composer Steve Reich at his home in New York State.

As well as speaking about the importance of his studies with Luciano Berio and the power of 12-tone music in the 1950s and 1960s, Reich talks at length about his relationship with God and how it shapes his daily routines, and in typical uncompromising style, addresses the question of religious fundamentalism.

02The Lebrecht Interview, Hilary Hahn20090727

Norman Lebrecht talks to Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn.

Born in Lexington, Virginia, Hahn was a child prodigy who made her major orchestral debut while still in her early teens.

Now celebrated for her captivating stage presence and deeply felt interpretations, Hahn's international career embraces everything from concerto appearances (playing classic and new repertoire), to recitals, recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, and collaborations with singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau and folk-based singer-songwriter Josh Ritter.

She tells Norman about the - sometimes harsh - realities of life on the road, the challenges of sustaining relationships, busking and the effects of the credit crunch on the classical music industry.

03Brigitte Fassbaender *20080804

Norman Lebrecht talks to German singer Brigitte Fassbaender, who has excelled onstage in the great mezzo roles in the music of Strauss and Mozart amongst others.

Also one of the leading lieder singers of her day, she tells Norman about her career as one of the great mezzos of the 20th century, about her experiences growing up in wartime Germany, the great conductors she worked with and about her present role as a theatre and opera director in Innsbruck.

03Emmanuelle Haim20070730

Norman Lebrecht talks to one of the most prominent pioneers in early music.

Conductor Emmanuelle Haim discusses her progression from vocal coach to conductor, the forming of her hand-picked Baroque music ensemble Le Concert d'Astree, her championing of rare Handel operas and her outspoken views on authenticity in performance.

03The Lebrecht Interview, Michael Kaiser20090804

Norman Lebrecht talks to president of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Michael Kaiser.

Known as 'the turnaround king' of performing arts, Kaiser has saved numerous artistic organisations from closure.

The American describes himself as 'very gloomy' about the effect of the current economic situation on the creative world and says a lot more damage will be done to many more artistic companies by the recession.

Advocating spending more money on the arts in time of economic difficulty, he also reflects on the turbulent years he spent rebuilding the Royal Opera House over a decade ago, on how he struggled to get the support of the New Labour government and how time working in Britain was the biggest challenge of his career.

Norman Lebrecht talks to arts leadership supremo Michael Kaiser.

04Peter Jonas *20080811

Norman Lebrecht talks to music administrator Peter Jonas, who talks about his career at the helm of some of the world's most prestigious music companies, bereavement, his relationship with soprano Lucia Popp and his struggle with cancer.

He also discusses the highs and lows of life in Chicago, London and Munich.

04Stephen Sondheim20070806

Norman Lebrecht talks to Stephen Sondheim, the leading living exponent of the American musical, at his home in New York.

Sondheim sees himself essentially as a songwriter, but through his collaborations with various dramatists, he has consistently extended the style and subject matter of the genre.

05Antonio Pappano20080818

Music director of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Antonio Pappano talks to Norman Lebrecht and speaks frankly about his life and work.

Born into a musical family of Italian emigres living in Epping, North London, Pappano's career has embraced many of the major art houses including the Theatre de la Monnaie in Paris, Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, Chicago Lyric Opera and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome.

Pappano talks openly about his Italian family upbringing in England and America - which involved making music but also at an early age cleaning offices to make money for the family - about the death of his father and the recreation of a family within the walls of the Royal Opera House.

05Lang Lang20070813

Norman Lebrecht talks to flamboyant pianist Lang Lang, who has been leading the new wave of classical musicians in China.

They discuss the restrictions and opportunities in the Far East, Lang Lang's experience at the Beijing Conservatory, his rock star treatment in China and his passionate commitment to classical music.

06Peter Sellars20070821

Norman Lebrecht talks to one of the world's best-known opera directors, Peter Sellars.

He has been startling audiences with overtly political stagings and festival seasons for a quarter of a century, but behind his non-stop clatter of ideas, what is it that drives his artistic vision: a passion to change the world or a determination to create something of beauty?

07Mariss Jansons20070829

Norman Lebrecht talks to the conductor of this evening's prom, Mariss Jansons.

One of the world's most sought-after musicians, he now heads the orchestra of Bavarian Radio and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

His father died of a heart attack in 1984, and Mariss himself had a near-death experience during a performance almost 11 years ago.

How have his experiences with death affected his career?

08 LASTFranz Welser-most20070903

Norman Lebrecht talks to conductor Franz Welser-Most, music director of the Cleveland Orchestra and incoming chief of the Vienna State Opera.

He talks revealingly about his life and music, from a life changing car accident in his late teens, to his turbulent time in charge of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

What has he learnt on this long and bumpy ride?