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Siberian maestro and the mysteries of his soul

People’s Artist of the Russian Federation, Professor Arnold Mikhailovich Katz is one of the most famous people in our city. A lot of books, articles, reviews have been written about this person. But, unfortunately, most of these publications do not explain the riddle of this man’s amazing creative will, which allows him to reappear on the podium after difficult surgical operations1).

They say that in ancient Greece the sounds of the wind musical instrument avlos were used as an anesthetic during surgical operations. I don’t know which avlets and which performers in Roman Tibia played, leaning towards the head of A.M. Katz during the ritual of German surgeons, but the positive result of the treatment is obvious. Perhaps Arnold Mikhailovich was helped by fragments of symphonies that constantly splash in his head.

A. M. Katz is most often scolded for drawing and posturing. I think that these accusations are unfair, because drawing and posturing in one way or another inevitably appear in the activities of any maestro.

The truth about an outstanding person, a famous artist, is always needed by people, always instructive. It’s hard to say. What is needed is not touching words, which sometimes are so many in journalistic reviews, not enthusiasm without arguments, and, of course, not stinging injections of critics, for whom self-promotion is not the most important thing. It takes the truth as it is, a truth that helps people understand the artist tormented by contradictions.

Any assessment inevitably carries an element of subjectivity. I do not expect that all my thoughts will necessarily coincide with the opinion of each reader, but I try to honestly describe the strengths and weaknesses of a person and musician well known to me as much as I can.

To judge the work of a particular conductor, the reasons for his successes and failures, you need to know at least a little about the “secrets” of the conducting profession.

Any profession leaves a mark on the character of a person. Doctors over the years of their professional activity have one thing in common. Prosecutors have different ones. Teachers have third. Conductors gain something unique.

Those properties of the psyche that inevitably form in a person with years of conducting activities are especially acute in A. M. Katz.

How often do we meet officials who are burdened by their duties! Many of them complain that they work a lot, that they get tired. But in reality they are only concerned with how to transfer the part of their worries onto the shoulders of another person. Sometimes, to accomplish this task, the clerk needs a lot of fiction.

The conductor is “molded from a completely different test.” As a rule, he actively “bites” into the matter. He is energetic and persistent. He wants to do everything himself. For nothing in the world, he will not delegate his work to anyone else.

A. M. Katz during the preparation of the next program is aimed only at those problems that are relevant to the concert. He is interested in either that which can help the orchestra play, or that which may interfere with the performance. And nothing else. He does not read books, does not go to the cinema, turns off the radio and TV, he is not interested in non-musical forms of art. For days on end he bustles about the needs of the orchestra, about the upcoming performance, about his image. Concern for personal authority is not in last place.

In previous years there was no director in the orchestra. All administrative concerns were performed by the chief conductor. Katz did it tirelessly and with a creative twinkle, with pleasure. In the orchestra there was not a single, even insignificant event that did not concern this person, there was not a single trifle into which he did not delve into.

You cannot call him a versatile person, but purposeful – certainly a person focused on the main task of life – of course, a person who is infinitely devoted to his profession – unconditionally!

Perhaps these qualities, coupled with energy and perseverance, helped him gain personal authority and get all the regalia possible for the artist.

The profession of conductor contributes to the formation of many positive character traits. But there are also negative ones. This is a tendency to posturing, the habit of pointing people to their mistakes and shortcomings, irritability, categorical judgments, the desire to certainly arouse admiration, always be in the center of the company, attract attention.

All this is hidden in the depths of the psyche of any maestro, but each manifests itself in different ways: some noticeably, others do not. It is important that shortcomings do not interfere with creative work, so that they overlap with virtues.

All conductors in one way or another pose. It is not their fault, it is their misfortune, their inevitability. The most talented successfully hide this feature of their own; others fail.

It is known that musicians reflect their attitude to reality with the help of their instruments. One does this with a violin; he is a violinist. Another with the help of a trombone, he is a trombonist. And the conductor with the help of a pose, he is a pose. He has no other instrument!

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