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HCB: Absolutely ... work in a busy opera house, and you get lots of experience really quickly. Actually, I did work as an assistant once, for a couple of years, at Saarbrücken Opera in Germany.

JD: It didn't work out? This didn't launch your career?

HCB: Well the truth is that they and I didn't really get on. They didn't like my conducting style, my lack of German, my repertoire -- the way I presented myself, even. I lasted out nearly two years, but my circumstances there were very stressful, and so I decided to leave and look for something better.

JD: I assume, like Mitropoulos, you're a champion of modern music?

HCB: That couldn't be further from the truth! But Mitropoulos and I had Bach in common, at least, although, as I used to say, his Bach was worse than his Beithoven. Hah! Actually, I'm really happy that 2006 is Mozart year, and that I can programme hours and hours of Köchel numbers.

JD: Do you think Mozart and his music are relevant in the year 2006?

HCB: Mozart's timeless, old chap, and the human character hasn't really changed that much in 250 years, so in a sense Mozart's works are still contemporary. We can all do with a bit of Wolfgang Amadeus in our lives, whether we like it or not, believe me!

JD: So, moving forward a few years, how are you, repertoire-wise, with, say, Beethoven?

HCB: That old mongrel! Hate the stuff, really. All those stuffy, heavy weather symphonies. Give me Mozart any day.

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Copyright © 1 April 2006 Jabez Dolotz, Isle of Dogs, London UK


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