Le Web ’08 – Itay Talgam

In a very interesting speech Itay Talgam, Israeli conductor of orchestras and musician, talked about leadership and “love” as seen from the perspective of music and conductors.

The idea of music and love go well together. Love, in particular, is an easy object for music. When you just love music everything is easy, but when you have to play music it’s more difficult. Even more difficult it is when there are many people that play and that you have to coordinate, or to conduct, such as in an orchestra.

Conductor in French is chef – and the meaning is similar to winner. The job of a conductor, however, is not just to lead, but to connect people through happiness. And connect not only the musicians, but also the audience.

Talgam showed a movie clip in which the conductor Carlos Kleiber doesn’t just lead the orchestra, but shows his feelings and leaves space for the whole orchestra to add value to the performance. And he doesn’t forget the audience too (and that’s not easy, especially if you are in Vienna). This is an act of love.

Compare it to classical conducting, for example Riccardo Muti. This is a different kind of love. It’s love for order. In the movie clip Muti tells everybody what has to do. Players  not only know the orders, but also the sanctions.

Kleiber instead doesn’t tell them what to do, but how he feels about the music. He opens up space for them to give interpretation. It’s about the meaning, it’s a process, not just instructions.

How to make love and keep things in control? If you are in charge in a process you need also to have the authority when somethings go wrong. In this way you are able to tell someone that he is out of line (another movie clips showed how Kleiber does that).

Kleiber is able to give space to the different elements going forth and back on the orchestra scene.

The feedback he gives to his orchestra are the kind of feedback you would like to have when you cook something for the ones your love.

Itay Talgam, Conductor