tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg September 9, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT
>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." ♪ charlie: a world-class conductor who has been the artistic general director of the mariinsky theatre since 1996. theater'se became the musical director. he was the conductor of the london symphony orchestra. in 2000, he had a vision for a new opera house, which after several technical setbacks, opened on his 60th birthday in 2013. it stands along the mariinsky
theatre, which is one of the largest opera houses in the world. it is the central hub of all things mariinsky. on june 20, i visited st. petersburg where valery gergiev , gave me a tour of the mariinsky campus. here is my conversation with him at the new opera house. let's start when you came to mariinsky. you were in your 20's. what was your first job? valery: assistant conductor. but i was asked to assist and then conduct public performances of famous "war and peace." the met audience knows that because we shared the production, which was shown here that years ago, then in new york and the met. a great, great opera. if there is anything written on
a grand scale for any opera, "war and peace" will be there on the first list immediately along with the ring cycle by wagner and maybe sergei prokofiev. the beginning was not by choice. i was simply told i was just going to assist others and then conduct my own performances. i'm very grateful the music boss,or was my first the only boss i had in my life. he told me to prepare yourself for "weaar and peace." i was waving my head. he says, why don't you come and hear how it sounds? that was my first time i conducted the mariinsky orchestra and nobody knew me.
assistanthis is my and he will do it. i thought it would conduct two minutes. i conducted the entire opera uninterrupted. strange, unusual, maybe i had some fear him a but it was the beginning. the orchestra, the chorus, many singers in the opera for two or three hours they knew if someone unknown was on the podium, young and inexperienced but i managed , to go from this large opera . then it was the end of 1977, december. i remember it very well. one of the very last days of december 1977. my first performance was the second of january 1978. that was my public debut in the kirov theater. a longtime, 37 years?
charlie: this is the 232nd season. valery: correct. charlie: it was named after? valery: tsarina alexandra, the empress of russia -- wife of alexander the second, czar of russia. the old theater was built in 1860. charlie: that is where your old office is. still very active. valery: it is full time. there are still seven or eight performances are even more. we also have 14 chamber music halls in this new theater, which is, by the way, in its own right, a very beautiful building. charlie: i want to get a sense of the history of the place.
at 35, you become a director. valery: i was not even 35 when i was told in april 1988 that all of the artists of mariinsky, then called kirov, voted for me to become artistic director. charlie: i'm sorry, how old? valery: 34. gorbachev brought a lot of changes. this is a well-known fact. the most unexpected came to the lives of artistic institutions, but also factories, the economy. yes, it was stagnating, maybe collapsing. talking to the orchestra, the
company in leningrad, saying we made the decision -- this is a man or woman appointed by the leadership of the country. that was not anymore accepted. the real change gorbachev brought. people started to feel they meant a lot, people started to feel they were professionals with their own opinion that should the expressed. they should insist that their opinion is heard. charlie: not just the dictator of the state. valery: when you say the state, you can speak of 100, 500, maybe 1000 people who think they make all decisions. but gorbachev brought this important change. i know him very well. we're friends. charlie: he lives in moscow. valery: he is maybe not so well for his age.
i was conducting a big concert in london celebrating his 80th birthday. i was doing it with the london symphony orchestra. he brought historical changes not only to this country but to the world. charlie: the history of music, is interesting. chavinsky, composers who worked here. wagner. there is a link to music, great music of our times. valery: enormous. the history here is really big. well-known, but i think it is important. great russian composers.
all over the world, all of the time. musosky is good to know. all of the world again. recent production. charlie: at some point you decided you wanted this theater to expand. muriinsky would have, this is a huge commitment. valery: it is a now it is over 1000 performances a year. then it was only one theater. then i was nearly 35 years old. i understood a huge opportunity. in a way, it was a huge generosity. a trust which of the company that included 60 plus or 70 plus artists, very famous. and the ballet company, the most important are 80 plus.
first of all, it would be stupid to ask them, okay you have to stop. these are legendary people. from her famous mariinsky ballet company, these are the most precious people. they know how to teach, how to affect this and make them young. make these 16-17-year-old girls to take it for the rest of their lives. it is very important to have them with us. the people who voted for me were twentysomething or 80-something and suddenly, surprisingly i was supported by a good 85% of the company. charlie: why? valery: maybe somebody remembered how i directed "war and peace" and maybe somebody thought i was hard-working.
maybe somebody remembered that i was insistent. will or was a stronger stronger character. they were difficult times. in 1980, gorbachev was still admired by many. losing, my mayf be losing the country, but losing the confidence. the economy has to be stable, then you can bring other reforms. salaries. we need more openness. we need more rapid changes. the tragedy of gorbachev was this was not brought to the certain level, this openness. and the strong will for the change was benefiting the wrong people. it couldn't benefit every family
because the economy was not working. in china, they made the same situation. they made wise decisions to start with the economy and start investing. charlie: you made a commitment to build here and then you had an architect who built the foundation. you saw a building you like to so much, well, toronto. there is more to the story than that. valery: i was never thinking of building a new opera house or a concert hall when we started. what i was thinking, the only one advantage i have over everybody is i love music and they do, too. but as a leader, i have to prove , i can work hard. then, looking at me, they will also believe they have to work, and perhaps prepare. then we will expand. then we will have quality and international recognition, which
followed very quickly in 1988. i started in 1989, the orchestra of the opera company. then it was famous in any case. we were seen in london or paris or in zurich. and maybe two years later, the met. in 1992 our first arrival in new york. it was my first time in america in 1990. 25 years since i came the first time to america. of course, that was not one single year that we wouldn't go to either opera or ballet. it was very important for us to build relationships. of course, san francisco and chicago and los angeles. charlie: how do you feel now about what this place represents?
not only are you a music director and conducting, but you are a builder. guy, with your own energy, trying to transform an institution. where do want to go from here? valery: i have two legendary americans that come to mind. i met them. it would be too much to say. a man with russian. -- with russian roots. we spoke a lot about them and so forth. lenny did travel with the new york philharmonic. he did travel to other orchestras as well. lenny was there to conduct when the berlin wall went down.
charlie: he was in washington? valery: and isaac was there to defend carnegie hall, the life of it. i know jim was there as well to give his tremendous support. there were many others. charlie: there were all there for the fall? valery: there would be hole anymore. there was someone who could make a decision. the hall should go down as something built. shops, whatever. it was a symbol of the musical world. the music of the world overall. and so, yes, you need leaders. i do not know if i was a born leader, but i was born most
in my own small way, maybe this city our country needed a leader who would make sure that the ballet opera orchestra would not disappear like the soviet union. no more. we do second, they say, there is a problem outside the walls. i thought in 1988 and especially in 1999, i will make whatever it takes. this place becomes like a vatican. and whatever happens. funny it sounds now. but i did my utmost best to make this kind of scenario work. and it did. ♪
charlie: riccardo muti is here, one of the preeminent conductors working today. he has led some of the world's best orchestras, including the vienna philharmonic and the philadelphia orchestra. he became the 10th music director of the chicago symphony orchestra in 2010. here's a look at a performance of beethoven's fifth. ♪ charlie: he will lead the
them? riccardo: this is a good question. people feel happy on the podium. i feel always that to conduct a great orchestra in front of the public that knows what they are listening, it is a big challenge every time. you cannot be completely happy. charlie: is it thrilling to be there, and each time think, i can get a better this time? riccardo: every time. one of the most difficult moments is the end of the performance, because if the public likes the performance, the public applauds, sometimes with standing ovation. if you are honest with yourself, you will start to think about all the things that you didn't achieve. you are starting a criticism against yourself, and you have
to smile to the public, giving the impression that you are happy. it's a contradiction. charlie: is there a metric for the perfect conducting of a symphonic piece? there is no way to measure if it is perfect or the best because there is no real judge. riccardo: perfection does not exist. and you can try all your life to discover some of the truths that is in a score. you are faithful to what is written in the score but it is not just one part of your work. behind the notes, you have the universe. the truth with a capital "t." you cannot possess, cannot reach that point because if you are able to know the universe behind
the notes, you are god. charlie: and you are not god. riccardo: we all have a little piece of that. we altogether become god. altogether. because altogether we can have the real truth. the complete truth, nobody has, not even the critics. [laughter] charlie: but, it is the pursuit of that that makes a lifetime in music so exciting. riccardo: unique, yes. that is the pursuit of that. it takes all the entire life. i remember when i was a music director in florence and there was 27 years old, the founder of the festival. he was one of the greatest conductors of the time. he was still alive in florence. he was 90 years old.
when we met, he said to me, what a pity to be near the end of life when i was starting to learn how to conduct an orchestra. that didn't mean 1, 2, 3. to conduct an orchestra means being able to get out the musicians, the best of their culture, of their soul, of their feelings. that is what he is conducting, not to jump onto the podium and make all kinds of noise. charlie: getting the best out of the musicality of the musicians. riccardo: you get that, especially when you reduce your beat. the great conductor who died , said to me one time what would , be so wonderful if one day we could conduct an orchestra without moving our arms.
many times the conductor is an impediment for the public to enjoy the music because we are becoming more and more a visual society so we are attracted from what we see on the podium more than what we hear. charlie: what do you think you have accomplished in the past five years since you have began in 2010? more, i likee and and love the city. i think chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in this country. it is really a beautiful city. the public, the people are really what we think are the real americans. charlie: strong shoulders. riccardo: i like being a southern italian. then with the musicians, in five years we did not have one time a friction. it was always a wonderful time to be together. i think working together, as
every conductor brings, i have brought part of my culture. i come from europe and the mediterranean. i think we italians, especially the italians of the south, we have this kind of sense of delight of the beautiful sunshine that we bring into the music. melancholy. charlie: melancholy. riccardo: but for light. -- but full of light. charlie: you have also said the next five years are much more important than previous times. riccardo: yes, we are really one body now together. me and the musicians. we have to use the chicago symphony and the music to heal as much we can, the world. -- inrld is an incredible an incredibly difficult time. a bloody time. everywhere.
the music is the only -- music does not bring words generally. forget the opener or in auditorium. pure music itself -- words are the problems. in life. because with words you can save -- you can say lies. charlie: with words you can offend. riccardo: yes, especially when you say the truth you can offend somebody. if somebody says you are ugly, you are bad, you are saying the truth sometimes. charlie: when you came to chicago, you left lascala. why did you leave? riccardo: because after 19 years of wonderful time together with the musicians and many good things that we did around the world, it was a big problem between me and him.
a big friction. two different views, visions. that brought this fight which sometimes happens in italy -- they became political. you know the fact that some workers were on the left, some were on the right. it became a problem of unions. it became another thing instead of being artistic, and became political. when the politics comes into theater or opera house or concert hall, it is better for the musician to go away. charlie: at the same time, i i have her conductors say to me they tire of this sort of responsibilities of a conductor or the music director of the symphony because of fundraising, because of entertaining, because of all those other things that
have to do with maintaining the orchestra, but not leading the orchestra. riccardo: yes. it depends very much on the people that are working for the orchestra. the board of directors. in chicago, it is very well-balanced because the sponsor is bank of america which has been very helpful and still very helpful. then, we have a family, sam and helen, they are friends of mine. they gave a huge contribution to the orchestra for the chair of the music director. so, staying together one or two times a year, having dinner and making jokes, it is pleasant. charlie: are you going to take the orchestra to cuba? riccardo: i hope. because that would be a statement of friendship.
as nixon when he went to china, the philadelphia orchestra went. that was one of the cultural statements. and it helped. when lascala went to japan the first time, it was such a revolution. even in the restaurants, the french restaurants, they lost their competition with the italian restaurants. charlie: what would you conduct at carnegie hall? riccardo: now it is three programs. quite interesting because we bring two symphonies. it is one of the greatest composers of the russian school together with the others. we do the first and the third symphony, the divine poem of the symphony. in the first program, we do the first piece dedicated to the sea.
mendelson. prosperous voyage. then "la mer." then the third symphony. the second program will be the concerto number two. and schumann, a german program. the third program will be the fifth symphony. and then one we did in chicago a few days ago. having one day before the film of eisenstein. in two year's time, we will do another product of the collaboration between a film
director and a great composer which would be ivan the terrible. charlie: on the 125th season of the orchestra? is it? riccardo: yes. it will be the third shakespeare verity opera. i did mcbeth and this will be the end of the season. it is an opera i have done many times. i recorded and made a video. it is an italian baritone. it started with me. i worked with him and made him. not because he is large, but because he is the right voice for this role. charlie: are you concerned about the future of music and the future of symphonic music?
riccardo: i think the music will not disappear because if it does, it means mankind is gone. humanity is. but -- we have -- i'm thinking what would be the future -- music will exist. but it will change completely, especially the new music. i think all of these cultural influences that we are having from different parts of the world from the east -- china, , korea, japan and south america and other parts of the world. this globalization, even though it is a bad word that i hate, but the mixture of all these new cultures getting together certainly will bring a new language in music. and maybe we'll bring also a better relationship between public and composers. because now the distance between
the public and the composers that are writing music is too wide. and so this makes it very difficult for the new music to survive because we have thousands of composers around the world. they write their music. when we conduct the score one time or two times, we feel morally inrder. and then we forget the piece, after the second performance and the public also. incredible composers we had at the beginning of the 20th century -- with their life also the music is gone. and so what that means we have to find in the future a way that
for the past 40 years, he has created more than 40 operas and some scores, and chamber music for solo piano. his new memoir takes a look at the life that accompanies the music. it is called "words without music." i am pleased to have phip glass back. anything you want to disagree with respect to that introduction? philip: what i usually say is i write theater music. it changes. that's what i like. it is what i do. charlie: writing theater music? what is it? philip: it is opera, it is film. it can be dance. anything that involves collaboration. charlie: collaboration and performance? philip: and performance. but in this case i'm talking about collaboration with movement, image, text, and musical form.
i was going to do a different one and i started looking at myself. charlie: but you started to write another memoir and that reason is? philip: i was going to do a different one and i started doing it by myself. i wanted to talk about the people i knew. charlie: and you ended up with this opening sentence. "if you go to new york city to study music, you will end up like your uncle henry, spending your life traveling from city to city and living in hotels." say, "that was my mother, ida glass. when she heard of my plans, i was sitting with her at the kitchen table in baltimore heading back to home after returning from the university of
chicago." philip: that was a pretty good reading of what my mother felt. [laughter] philip: she was a school teacher, librarian. the family wanted me to study music. everyone in the family had to take music lessons, we weren't supposed to be decisions -- we weren't supposed to be musicians. there was a history of musicians in the family, and that was considered not the best way, that was not what they had in mind for us. i had just finished the university of chicago and i was a young guy. i had gone to the early entrants -- entrance program, i graduated from university at 19. i did not go into medicine or law or anything reasonable. i decided to pursue what i wanted to do, which was music. charlie: god bless you for that. everybody ought to do that, pursue what they really want to do. philip: my mother lived long enough to see me at metropolitan opera. in a way -- we never referred to that conversation. she was also concerned about
what i was doing. my dad had a record store. she was a literary person. she liked books. she was a librarian. charlie: she thought you had talent. philip: i don't think she would have known. my dad like music. she did not particularly like music. i would practice in the kitchen. i did not like playing alone. i was probably performing for my mother when i was eight or nine years old. charlie: is the ability to be able to create music either as a composer or vocalist, a player, some different skill that people have? or is it something you can develop? philip: i think it is both, really. for some reason, at least in the world of concert music or theater music, we tend to start fairly young.
that is not always true. the beatles were finishing art school when they formed a band, they were in their 20's. that is very common in popular music. not in as the world of concert music, european art music. whatever you want to call it. i began when i was very young. i was six or seven years old. charlie: you began because you had some instinct. and you showed some -- philip: i wanted to do it. and my parents also felt that -- this was also the phase where everyone should have some music education. my sister and brother had piano lessons. i had flute lessons. i was the only one who became a musician. i would say i bonded with music early. charlie: you said, when someone asks you, what does your music sound like, it sounds like new
york city? philip: i was not born here. so, i discover new york and the music. i really discovered it -- i talk about in that book. on my first train ride to chicago on the railroad train, an all-night ride. there was nothing on the train. charlie: baltimore and ohio? philip: you remember that. it has been gone a long time. i remember the click and clack of the tracks. in those days, there was nothing in the mention of lights. i could not go to sleep. i was so excited to be going. i was 15 and going away to school with a couple of friends, but really on my own. i heard the sound of the train. i heard the sound of music in a lot of things. charlie: what influence did richard sarah have on you? philip: he was a great friend and i worked with him. i was in paris on a fulbright.
this was 1963 or 1964. he was there on a yale traveling fellowship. he was great. he was a very good drawer. you might not know that. he developed those skills. we can friends there -- we became friends there. he got back to new york before i did. maybe 1969 or 1970. he met me, i think he met me -- i came back on the boat. in those days we took the queen elizabeth. and he said, don't worry. i've got my truck waiting for you. i said, what is it for? he said, for moving furniture. i moved furniture for a while. one day, he called me up and said leo wants me to do a show , uptown, can you come and work
for me? i had been helping him at night. partly because he needed someone to move the stuff around. we were friends and i did that for fun and also because i had the truck. [laughter] i became his assistant for a number of years. charlie: you both shared a passion for jackson pollock. philip: and a lot of other things. i had a layman's knowledge of modern painting. he took me to museums, gave me books to read. he basically educated me so he could talk to me. [laughter] that was true. charlie: he wanted to talk since somebody. philip: we were always good friends, but i got involved with his work up and until later. charlie: this is him talking about the importance of modern art and the influence of
pollock. here it is. richard: the generation that comes after misinterprets the generation that comes before so it can either mock it or extend it. with had the history of it through dada, surrealism. every generation challenges the efforts and procedures and motifs of communication of the generation before. that is true of language also. charlie: who challenged to you the most? richard: pollock. charlie: jackson pollock challenged you the most? richard: he broke the rules in a great way. in breaking those rules, he produced great art that you can look at right now. it is still here and it is still breathtaking. i think art is something we need. we need that expression. that expression that we ourselves cannot understand in ourselves. artist opened the door to that feeling. i think great poetry doesn't, great commuting -- great poetry,
music, great painting does it. it is what makes society rich. charlie: amazing. have the critics been good to you? philip: i think they have been confused. charlie: confused by what you are doing? philip: my generation, we were not doing what we were supposed to do. we're supposed to follow in the track of marvelous music. they were fabulous composers. these are big -- great, enormous talents. my generation said, why would we do that? they had already done it. it never occurred to us. partly because i spent a lot of time with painters and sculptors. as you know the rate of change , is every 10 years. music is every 75 years. much slower rate of change. my generation, we turned the apple cart and started someplace else.
one of the people, a very good critic of mine. when he first heard my music, the title of his review was, "glass invents new sonic tor ture." charlie: that gave birth to my question. philip: he became interested in music. in fact, he began helping me write a book about music. a guy named robert jones. sometimes, there were -- tim page was another fellow. he was a young fellow i met who had a radio program at columbia university. one of these all-night video guys. he played my music. he became a writer about music. let's put it this way, i cultivated critics who liked me. the ones i did not like, i did
not read. charlie: what is the biggest misconception about the music you compose? philip: the needle stuck in the groove? it does not repeat. it repeated, it would be unlistenable. what makes it interesting is it is changing. charlie: what makes people think it is repetitive? philip: it keeps repeating. [laughter] but it is about transformation. i do something which people were also doing in the art world. we were working. and many of us and the theater working towards a kind of nonnarrative expression. with beckett, he would take a piece and cut it up and put it back together. charlie: you are akin to beckett in what you are doing? philip: when i was a kid in
paris, i was writing music for his place. -- for his plays. we had a little theater company. we were expatriates, i was studying music there. we were working with this material. he was very friendly. he did want to spend any time with us, but i wrote music for him. i wrote music for about eight of his plays. charlie: if for some reason, you could not do music, what do you think you would do? philip: i do know. i have no idea. -- i don't know. it never occurred to me to do anything else. charlie: how lucky are you? philip: i was lucky in two ways also. i was in the generation between the vietnam and korean wars. when there was no draft. i just slipped through that little window. i didn't even have to go into the army. charlie: alex ross on your early was severe andss
his amplified ensemble of winds focused on the basis of repetition and addition and subtraction. philip: very good. charlie: you like alex on that? philip: i think it is a good description. what happened later on is i became, by the 1990's, i got interested in all the things i had repudiated. i began doing operas based on films. romantic stories. i decided, let's do that now. i got interested, i became interested in narrative work. i was still working with wilson at the time. we did other pieces together. charlie: did you meet in paris? philip: i met bob in new york city. we took einstein to paris. that was years later.
i became interested in everything eventually. i started from a narrow place. i had a very good music education, not only from juilliard. i had the technical equipment. i began with a very reductive place and i expanded from that. for example, they are very rich, in terms of the depth and thickness of the music. they are not necessarily what people would call minimalism. charlie: you don't like minimalism. philip: i liked it when i did it. [laughter] it was pretty much overbite 1975 or 1976. -- over by 1975. after einstein, an opera about gandhi. that was the first piece where i brought social issues into the opera.
i got interested in, how do we as artists, how do we talk about the world we live in? i got adjusted in social change for nonviolence. much later, it was here in new york here at the met. one of the things i liked about the theater was we could include other ideas. movies work.ing on -- he is talking about the impact of technology on traditional life. he is talking about things that are threatening, exhilarating, maddening, revolutionary. he makes movies about it, and i got involved in it. charlie: are you interested in how technology can enhance music? philip: yes, but however, to do that, i have to write stuff on paper. i have run out of a certain kind of paper i like.
i have to have it printed myself. there used to be five places in new york where you could buy music paper. i have to send away for it now. charlie: do you really? could you get it on amazon? philip: it is easier for me to print it myself. that is what we are doing. but that is the starting place. i have a music staff in my office. they take the music and they put it into the computer. from there, we can make parts. a lot of the technology, i don't need it for writing music, but it is helpful preparing music for people to play. charlie: i am looking for the right word. i want to go out on "einstein on the beach." give me the right words to introduce it. philip: that is a hard one. you know, einstein was -- it was a surprise to everyone. when i said it was a surprise for bob and myself.
from, he came from the world of theater, i came from the world of music. we were in similar places. we put our talents together. we became great collaborators because we trusted each other. it was about how artists trusted each other to make new work. it was a work of collaboration. the way to enter it is, as young people, we were in our 30's. i think i was 35 or 36. we did a piece no one had seen before. we had not seen it before, either. charlie: the book is called, "words without music." with an annie leibowitz photo , which i think is sensational. thank you. it was great to have you. we will do more. take a look at "einstein on the beach." ♪ >> i think people have heard
♪ 9 rishaad: it is thursday and you are watching "trending business ." ♪ rishaad: this is a look at what we are watching in the asia-pacific, the global rally hitting the brakes after wednesday's remarkable gains. slumping, mixed messages and rising food costs in china. there was gathering gloom in manufacturing. prices are falling more than anticipated, it is the 42nd
straight monthly drop. it is epitomized the problems facing japan. low prices, reluctant and consumers, and an aging demographic. do let us know what you think by following me on twitter. some, well, we have interviews to get that inflation read out of china. indeed, we are getting an interpretation of what that jobs report in australia is telling us, here is sherry. shery: markets are digesting a lot of economic data out of asia. the nikkei is leading the decline down more than 3% after that historic rally we saw yesterday. we have disappointing data out of japan showing machine orders rising much less than economists had expected. we also have data out