Antoni Wit on the Fitelberg Competition

Friday, 16 November 2012
The 9th Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors begins on 16 November. The international jury is headed by Antoni Wit. In his conversation with Jacek Marczyński (Rzeczpospolita, 16 November 2012) he tells about contemporary conductors, about the essence of this work, and how he intends to judge the competition participants.
Don’t you think that the Fitelberg Competition is closer to life now than ever before? In the past, conductors worked with one orchestra for as long as 20 years. Today, they move from one concert venue to another. They have to work fast and efficiently. Like at a competition.
This is only possible because the level of orchestras has risen exceptionally high. I am saying this from my professional experience of almost fifty years. To be honest, today a conductor does not necessarily have to know everything that he was supposed to know in the past. The best orchestras do not expect him to teach them. The time needed to prepare a concert has shortened. When I started working, they said that a good conductor must be old. Today is quite the opposite, look how many young conductors we have. (…)
Once they said that life experience is exceptionally important. Today we view a conductor’s profession differently, if such successes are made by those twenty-something year olds?
Experience is still essential, but let me repeat: contemporary orchestras are considerably better than those in the past. A good flutist or oboist offers such beautiful solos in ways that conductors perhaps never thought possible. Today it is the orchestras themselves that have to raise their standards if they want to be invited to make recordings or go on tours. And the audience has much higher expectations because it knows outstanding interpretations from records. (…)
What will you pay attention to when judging the competition entrants?
To all those elements that help to conduct an orchestra, but artistic personality is the most important for me. When a conductor moves his hands, he releases a certain sound. He does not always do it consciously, but in this way music is born. And music should be judged above all else: whether it is beautiful or, for example, free from nuances.

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