Stravinsky on conductors

It is said that one morning in London he was with a friend in a taxi when, just as they came to Ludgate Hill, the bells of St. Paul’s began to ring.

He leaned forward to listen and tapped on the window for the driver to stop.  Then he turned to his friend and said:

‘That is really the ideal way to make music.  A man pulls a rope; but what happens at the other end is of no importance to him.  He cannot make the bells ring more softly or more loudly; he cannot alter their rhythm, nor increase nor diminish their tone.  He has nothing to do, except pull the rope the bells do all the rest.  The music is not in him; it lives in the bells. The man at the rope is the prototype of the ideal conductor.’

From Stravinsky A Critical Survey by Eric Walter White.

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