‘Dvorak was a brilliant specimen of a bad conductor’: From the archive: July 1932


The great cellist and pedagogue Carl Fuchs (1865–1951) recalls some of the great players and composers seen during his time in Manchester – including the original Brodsky Quartet

For the first visit to Manchester of Richard Strauss I do not remember a worse fog. The concert was at the Schiller-Anstalt (German Club) in Nelson Street, where many great artists (Casals among others) had made their first bow to a Manchester audience. The hall was filled with a dense fog, and when we were playing his quartet with him, a most irritating freezing draught descended on to us from the stage. Strauss told me afterwards it was the first time he had had to skate on a piano!

Dvorak was a brilliant specimen of a bad conductor, and when he produced his “Mass” in Birmingham Dr. Richter acted as interpreter at rehearsal. The selection of our great Manchester conductor for that purpose had a touch of the comic, for who does not remember the many stories of unintentional humour caused by his imperfect English? At the performance Dvorak’s cuff threatened to come out. Instead of letting it do so he stopped conducting, and in his gauche way tried to push it back. The performance became very shaky, and disaster was only just averted…

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