The Art of Possibility

foreign thank you I'm having the best week of my life I mean that I just performed Beethoven's 9th Symphony in Carnegie Hall on Sunday to an absolutely packed out crowd you know what it's like standing on the stage of Carnegie Hall and looking out four balconies High 2 700 people at the end of a concert with everybody applauding and crying and nine minutes Standing Ovation is nothing like it
and next week I'm with my Youth Orchestra in Symphony Hall in Boston we're doing a concert on on Friday night with rehearsal tomorrow and so and I'm turning 84 on Wednesday and I'm happy and I want to yeah I'm I'm having such a good life and I just want to share a little bit about why I'm having such a good life it's a great time I want to share with you two flip charts this is a flip chart we call this the downward spiral this is shaped like this and this is a place for competition and winning and losing and success and failure and this is disease and this is where most of our life is spent it actually goes up as well but like the stock market when it's
going up we're worried about it coming down so we call it the downward spiral and it's where most of our grandchildren live their lives this is a totally different world this is a world of radiating possibility and it's shaped like this it's completely different and these arrows are going out and we know not where they're going now classical music lives here and so by definition when we're in this place if I play this even though you're tired and you've been sitting here for four hours you don't feel tired when you hear that
music it affects you so deeply and so powerfully and so our job is to make sure that we learn to move from this world of downward spiral where fear lives and of course it's driven by ambition and fear and the place here is driven by community inclusiveness and by love it's a different totally different world so the discipline of the art of possibility and we have a book called The Art of possibility the discipline is learning to move from this place of argument and tension and anxiety and pressure and all the downward spirals into the world of possibility and Leadership is taking people with you it's as simple as that
and classical music takes us inevitably there now it cannot it doesn't happen just because it's classical because classical music can be very boring too my former wife told me she was in a dental chair the other day and there was classical music playing on the loudspeakers she preferred the drill yeah but it's not it's not that difficult to get to the world of classical music as we want to hear it if you have grandchildren at home who play the piano and they play like this that's not yet classical music
and they practice and they take lessons and then they they were that was the seven-year-old the eight-year-old plays like this and the nine-year-old plays like this and the 10 year old plays like this the point they usually give up because they waited one more year you would have heard this what happened was there was a reduction of impulses a reduction of impulse that's all so if you have a seven-year-old grandchild child or
great-grandchild just tell them to reduce the impulses and they'll sound like an artist so the the classical music way of being if you like is that it has to be buoyant it has to be Lively Leon Fleischer said classical music is an act of anti-gravity and so when it takes us up into that world of the anti-gravity then we're really in that world and Mozart does that Mozart just by hearing Mozart by hearing any phrase of military love you
when you hear Mozart you think that everything is right with the world foreign of course we had to fill Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall with people and how do we do that will we do anything we can we stop at nothing you know the other day I was sitting at the piano and I was playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony which we were just about to perform and I was playing or it was like
and the phone rang and the phone was right there and I picked up the phone but I didn't stop playing the piano I went on and I just put the poem like that and it was a telemarketer usually when the telemarketers call I say he's dead somebody said I'm sorry to hear it I said actually I was quite relieved anyway I was playing away and he went on Turkey he wanted to just sell me some silver and eventually he said you sing beautifully and I said I'm not a singer I'm actually a conductor he said what's that I said I conduct orchestras and we talked for a while and he turned out he
lived in New York and so he came to the concert and then he and he brought his mom she'd never been to a concert either so we stop at nothing to enable people to come now the characteristic of the person of this is that we have shining eyes that's the state of being and I discovered something very important when I was about 45 I discovered that the conductor doesn't make a sound he's powerful but he gets his power from his ability to make other people powerful and when I discovered that I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in other people and you know how I know if that's being done if the eyes are shining if the player's eyes are shining I know I'm doing it if the eyes are not shiny
I asked myself this question who am I being that my player's eyes are not shining and we can do that with our children too and our grandchildren and our spouses and our workers because the eyes will always tell you what is really going on there but you know after a while I wanted to know more than I could find out by looking at those eyes so I invented a new way of finding out I took a white sheet of paper like this and I put it on the stand of every single musician in every orchestra that I conduct like that and the invitation is to speak to me about anything that they have on their mind and I just got one at about eight o'clock this morning I thought I'd share it with you it's beautiful it's from a a side drum player you know the side drum players usually don't have much to say they're stuck in the back they're playing
she wrote dear Maestro hello I wanted to start by saying that I'm incredibly excited about our concert in Symphony Hall next week that's on Friday night if anybody's in Boston please come um not only because I love the repertoire the last time I heard Tchaikovsky's Symphony Number Five in person was in Malaysia before covid but also because it will be a very important moment for me being given the chance to play the solo snare drum part for the Bartok concerto for orchestra anybody who knows that's the one of the great solos for the side drum in the incredible Symphony Hall which is even better than Carnegie Hall imagine that I just threw that in um all right where it was originally premiered imaginedly Bartok was lying on his deathbed in a hospital and kosovitsky came to visit him and said you have to write a piece for the Boston Symphony he said I'm too ill I can't do
it he said you have to do it I'll give you this princely sum of a thousand dollars and bought off very close to death and very worried that he was leaving his wife without any resources got out of bed and wrote the most affirmative piece of music written in the 20th century imagine that and we're playing that on Friday in Symphony Hall with this Youth Orchestra it's so exciting oh yeah exactly um now what did she say uh all right so be given the chance to play the solos now about Trump for the Bartok and the incredible Symphony Hall where it was originally premiered but now with our amazing Youth Orchestra just thinking that there will be people coming to our concert listening to classical music for the first time or listening to Tchaikovsky or Bardock for the first time makes me determined to create a memorable experience for them I am thus taking extra care in order to
perfect my plane and truly convey my love for the music we are playing to our audience this is an 18 year old kid who's just about to burst into life here therefore I would like to ask for your opinion on the Lost Tempo section in bartok's concerto for orchestra movement two now she's telling her conductor what worries her about the performance all right she's been very specific in starting from measure one two three one to 123 during which the brass and the snare drum have several exchanges of phrases my main concern is that right after my [ __ ] snare phrase ends in bar 129 and the brass takes over there's a gap of Silence in between where they are breathing that seems just a little too long
which I feel creates an interruption in the flow of the music this also happens in measure 135 I wanted to ask you if there is anything I should be keeping in mind during this section in order to allow the exchanges of phrases to happen more smoothly and if it would be possible for us to revisit this section in particular for our next rehearsal hope to hear back from you soon you wonder why I'm happy right is this incredible this is a member of 130 kids in the orchestra they all have a free path to to me to ask me anything and she's worried about that moment and so she writes to you this morning just arrived so that's happiness I don't know about you but that's happiness for me because they're totally engaged they're totally in love with music and you know what they're not in the down downward spiral of competition and fear and
anxiety and pressure and who's better and winning and losing it's all about love and Community communication and we have for our rehearsals on Saturday afternoon and they go and that the youngest is 12. 12 to 21 right and just like you you've been sitting here for four hours too right but you know isn't it interesting when you're engaged in something that is creating possibility you don't feel tired isn't that amazing and that's not because I'm highly entertaining which I am but um no you know the vicar who thinks people come to the church to see him gets taken away in a white van this is not about the vicar right this is about this power that I call possibility that is available to everybody at every moment of every day and we have a choice every time we open our mouths whether we're going to speak
in the downward spiral or speaking possibility that's open to us at every single moment and we have this incredible music to back it up to express it what can I share with you uh here um heroicum a March let's say you lose somebody you love very much foreign terrible sadness and loss now I'll tell you a lovely story there was a young girl in Vienna called Alma and Alma fell in love with Marla and one
day he wrote a letter to her but it wasn't with words it was with music and she could read it because she was a musician so she just read it she didn't need to hear it she she had and this is how it went again foreign inside me
imagine getting that message and she said oh my God he loves me and she went to see him just from that music now that piece has been very misunderstood over the years people thought it was about death and it was a kind of music for the funeral they used it in Death in Venice imagine completely playing it at the wrong Tempo and that's what happened to me with the Beethoven Ninth Symphony as I realized that they had played this piece largely at the wrong Temple and so I was followed by a crew of filmmakers and they just completed the film in Carnegie Hall last Sunday it's going to be a documentary about my 40-year journey with the Beethoven 9th Symphony and that's going to come to fruition in a documentary you're wondering why I'm so happy this is an incredible journey and every
Temple of Beethoven has been restored to the original idea that he had and it's it's so so so so so exciting and sorry would you like to sing that right let's let's see if you have a sheet of paper in front of you with the words should we do this that'd be great where's where they were here so what we have to do is we have to get the words first let me teach you so the first line I'm going to read it in German it's going to come out sounding in in English no I'm going to read it in English it's going to come out sounding in German right I got it right okay so I read it and you read after me Elysium
foreign foreign sounds exactly like German brilliant brilliant let's do it one more time all together so you really get to know it and then we'll sing it everybody from the beginning Freud shernugget of funken via betrayton foyer Tonkin
himself where you know the song Let's sing it foreign well done it sounded really good I was looking around and I saw several of you going Freud uh
so we want a little bit more string to it so we're going to do it again but with a little bit more swing like that I'm going to eat here we go yeah I hear some serious holding back in this room I'm going to tell you I had a student who came to me for a audition he was going for a very important audition he wanted to be the cellist the associate principal cellist in Barcelona and he lived in Barcelona and he came to play for me he played well but he um was holding back and so I said to him you know I think you may get into the orchestra but I don't think they'll make you the associate principle cellist because to be a leader you have to open up possibility for people that they don't
even know about and you're not doing that and so I went to the piano and I started playing and he started playing in his hair was flying and his sweat was pouring like this and he was playing flat out and I said that's it that's the way to play now if you play that way they won't be able to resist you you'll get that job and so when he left for his audition I said now Marius don't play the first way play the second way he said oh yeah I play second wave so he came back three weeks later and I said how did he go and he said I didn't get the job I said what happened he said play first way so I say never mind never mind I was about to tell him you'll get other chances he said no no and then in his very heavy Spanish accent he said I was so pissed off he said I was so pissed off I said [ __ ] it he said he said I'm gonna go to Madrid
and I'm going to do the audition in Madrid for the first cello position and I won the job twice the salary of the other job I said what happened he said I play a second way so we introduced a new distinction into my class which was beyond the [ __ ] it right and all my students know beyond the pocket and he I was at a Catholic Girls School in California and they had mistress and I told them that the headmistress wrote me a letter btfi has become our school motto this is the song they sang over the plate over the loudspeakers in chairman Square during the revolution this is the song they played when the wall fell down in Berlin and I'm going to tell you now exactly what Beethoven was saying when he said this song Joy freuda
funken god-like shining bright light daughter of Elysium We Stand foia trunk and drunk with fire him him at your heavenly holy Place talking to God then he says Dinah talba your magic binden Vida binds together child what habit and fashion have torn apart Allah mentioned all human beings will be as brothers where your soft wings dwarfed so this is the song to the possibility that human beings can be the vision is Allah mentioned verden Bruder we will live
together as as brothers but the line before is the crucial one we cannot get to that Vision unless we are willing to give up our assumptions our prejudices our habits our Fashions what we all carry into into Life as a burden if we give those up we have the possibility of a vision of Brotherhood between all mankind that's a powerful idea and Beethoven found a way of expressing that in music with such Simplicity a theme so simple every child can play it on the on the Block flute on the on the yeah you know on the on the on the violin on there any chance just
but a music of such beauty such what on the recorder exactly yeah exactly it's a genius idea it's it's a vision for all of mankind it it takes terrific discipline just as moving from the downward spiral to radiating possibility it takes vigilance and discipline at every single moment because we easily fall into the downward spiral of demeaning people you know I give my students an A in the first class of the year before the class begins they get an A and the only condition is they have to write me a letter in the first two weeks but it's dated May of the next year when the class ends and it has to begin Dear Mr Xander I got my a because and then they write who they will have become by next May to justify this
extraordinary grade and I tell them to fall passionately in love with the person they're describing in the left and they do they write about who they could be who they would be who they see themselves as if only that damn voice on the right hand side left-hand side didn't tell them that they couldn't do it and you see when I come into class the person I teach is the person they've described in their latter I only take a students they're nice means I'm surrounded by stars right so that's an act of possibility that's moving from the constant measuring comparisons comparisons comparisons any measurement is in the downward spiral possibility lives beyond measurement and that's what Beethoven is talking about it's a it's an extraordinary vision for human beings if we can get that
Journey from here to there and he helps us with the most glorious music so can we sing it one more time b t f i are you willing here we go and if you can stand up stand up because it's even better to sing standing up than it is sitting down okay here we go Freud ashes dinos
that was fantastic you know every every week I give my students an assignment and um they get a different assignment every week and it's not an assignment they can accomplish it's a side assignment they can live into as a possibility and I wanted to share this week what the assignment is have a week in which intensity is raised in every aspect of your life all communication all experiences in everything you do that's their assignment and they start at 12 and you know by the time they're grown they're leaders by definition and they're leading the world you know and I think we have reason to be very excited about what's happening in the world with all these amazing stories that going that are going on in the
scientific world but you know human beings have through the intellect have gained dominion over the entire world but what they've forgotten is the need for the heart thank you thank you thank you let's have lunch that is the most fun I'm gonna have all week I guarantee you that was awesome great what a BT what btfi yeah and say what it means again beat beyond the [ __ ] it btfi all right remember that let me let
me tell you one last thing I have I have a website which is not to promote my work but it's to promote your life and what it is it's an immersion in music and possibility and it's full of music I'm the guide and my dream is that you will go into that and take people with you particularly your grandchildren and share all about classical music because it will enhance their life it's Benjamin and it has the Ted Talk which I gave which was has been seen by 22 million people which proves that my theory that everybody loves classical music they just haven't found out about it yet so please go there and enjoy it and share it with other people thank you thank you foreign