Mravinsky- Neither fast nor slow

I’m putting the finishing touches on my lecture “Shostakovich in Leningrad” (taking place this Sunday at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Details here). I’m currently finalizing the portion of talk on Mravinsky, and have found some very interesting material.

Conductor Alexander Polyanichko played in the violin section of Mravinsky’s Leningrad Philharmonic  in the 1980’s. His description of his indoctrination into the orchestra’s way of working is worth repeating here:

“When I first came to rehearsal the musicians asked me:”Do you know how to play in this orchestra when Mravinsky’s conducting?”

This sounded strange, and I asked; “How?” And they said:

“Neither fast nor slow, not quiet, not loud, not well, not badly-

Just identically to everybody else.””

You can bet I’ll be hoping this is a mindset I can instill in some of the orchestras I work with

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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