Reminiscences by a 48-year veteran of the San Francisco Symphony--beginning with his 1935 audition, as an 18-year-old...

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THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY: Music, Maestro, and Musicians

Reminiscences by a 48-year veteran of the San Francisco Symphony--beginning with his 1935 audition, as an 18-year-old violinist, for the orchestra's new conductor Pierre Monteux. (The symphony was then 25 years old but at a low ebb of quality.) Hired on probation, Schneider became a back-row second violinist, in subsequent years moving up, back, and around the pit as each new conductor insisted on re-auditions and reseatings. Monteux was a superbly in-control maestro but insensitive, especially to the musicians' financial woes. (He could also be pettily vindictive--regarding Serge Koussevitsky, for example.) The orchestra declined under Enrique Jorda in the 1950s; Josef Krips followed, noisy and harshly dictatorial but willing to use symphony members as soloists. Seiji Ozawa ""gave the appearance of being a carefree lightweight,"" but he was fiercely hardworking, a critical taskmaster. Most recently, there's Edo de Waart, who ""seemed obsessed with bringing youth into the orchestra"" but who raised quality while showing ""more understanding of the orchestra's human problems than any other conductor."" And guest conductors over the years have included Alfred Wallenstein (""he cried a lot""), Leinsdorf (""He would yell and scream and kick""), and Karl Munchinger--with an ""appalling"" lack of knowledge of the scores. When not commenting on maestros and soloists, Schneider chats about teaching, touring, his own nerve-wracking/thrilling moments as soloist, orchestra polities, and a few more personal matters. The result is a mild, pleasant grab-bag--primarily for San Franciscans, but with bits and pieces of more general musical appeal, especially to those with an interest in a symphony orchestra's inner workings.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Presidio

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983