Friday, November 19, 2010

Interrupting Mozart; on Bernstein and the night in Cambridge when the G minor symphony stopped

Mozart's G minor Symphony is about shocks and surprises, but there was a night in October 1973 when the unexpected caused Mozart to be temporarily silenced.

On the evening of the first lecture created by Bernstein for the Charles Eliot Norton series in 1973, a complete performance of the G minor symphony was to be filmed in performance at the Harvard Square Theater to cap the event.

Midway through the first movement the performance was stopped and the hall needed to be evacuated. Bernstein explains what happened in the WGBH studio the next morning where the lecture was recreated for videotape:

"During that wait," said Bernstein [0:42], "I must say I was sick at heart, and overcome by despair." But when the audience returned and the work resumed "my faith was restored...and doubled," said Bernstein [1:31].

Time Magazine reported on the incident on October 23, 1973:

"There was also an unscheduled theatrical moment in the middle of a filmed performance of Bernstein conducting Mozart's G-Minor Symphony: a bomb threat emptied the auditorium. 'I wouldn't have minded if the bomb-threat caller had only interrupted me,' said Bernstein after the audience had filed back. 'But to have interrupted Mozart was a sacrilege.' The mostly under-25 audience screamed, shrieked, applauded hysterically, and at concert's end, showered the stage with rose petals."

1 comment:

  1. That was very moving - Bernstein seems very genuine in his emotion. "To interrupt Mozart!"


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