Kudos and endless gratitude to Tim Mangan for originally finding and sharing this blast from the past: Carlo Maria Giulini rehearsing the opening of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
According to the voice over at the beginning of the video, this was filmed during one of ten(!) days of rehearsal leading up to the performance that occurred during his first week as Music Director of the orchestra. That would put it in Fall of 1978.
So many things to love in this video, I won’t even try to enumerate them — just watch it. It’s 8 minutes and 35 seconds of your life that is very well spent.
This was the very first piece CMG rehearsed with the LA Phil as its music director. This clip shows one of the very first rehearsals. Unfortunately, it does not show how he described to the orchestra his interpretation of the opening of the Ninth. It was imaginative, vivid and inspiring.
Daniel Rothmuller said he described it as “the firmament . . . the Creation,” though I’m not sure if Mr. Rothmuller’s story of CMG describing it that way were from this particular rehearsal or one later in his tenure as MD.
The way i remember Maestro’s description of the opening, whether he shared it with the orchestra during this rehearsal or possibly one immediately preceding (or following) it, is approximately as follows: this is the “story” of the creation of the world; tremolo in the strings is darkness of space, and upbeat accents are flickers of light in distant galaxies; then gradually that light is increasing and eventually conquers the darkness; finally life is created when the main theme appears at the end of this big initial crescendo. The rest of the opening movement is the development of different aspects of that life.
Thank you, sir!