From time to time, I will embed videos that show the Ninth’s cultural relevancy in our society, albeit dubiously at times…!


What a museum did to attract people…The Rijksmuseum Holland had an idea:
Let’s bring the art to the people and then, hopefully, they will come to see more – at  the museum. They took one Rembrandt painting from 1642 , Guards of the Night, brought to life the characters in it, placed them in a busy mall  to the tune of Beethoven’s Ninth – and the rest you can see for yourself!

I. Back to the source

Back in the summer of 2002 at the Tanglewood Music Center, one of my mentors made an off-hand remark that a conductor’s first Ninth “will not go well.” (I am using gentler language, but you get the point.) This not terribly reassuring comment stuck with me, knowing that the inventible day would come. I suppose that part of the reason that this resonated at the time was my own fear of the Ninth, one that I didn’t understand and certainly didn’t appreciate. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what seemed like a rambling third movement. (I wasn’t alone; the first critics panned it.) It wasn’t until I heard a revelatory performance (which to this day remains my definitive interpretation) by Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and the Vienna Philharmonic that it made sense to me. Isserstedt’s ability to convey the structure of the work is as clear as the outlines of the Parthenon itself and the sheer beauty of the playing and singing is breathtaking. The first live performance I ever heard was Sir Georg Solti in Zurich back in 1991, but in full disclosure I don’t remember much; I had just lost a piano competition and while Beethoven himself could have been conducting I would have still been sulking…!

My next encounter was at the library of The Curtis Institute of Music where I uncovered a gorgeous, hardbound leather edition (Breitkopf & Hartel) of the symphony from the 1920’s. I simply had to have it and made a mental note that when the day came, this was the score that I would use.  A few years later, I purchased a smaller Peters Edition for the Canford School of Conducting for a summer course with the legendary George Hurst. However, I found the print too small and later bought the Barenreiter authoritative full score, which is the edition that I am now using as my reference.

In early October, I will have the rare opportunity to view two original copyist scores of the Ninth, brought together for the first time since 1824 as part of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s (RPS) bicentennial celebrations in New York. I will also attend a performance by the New York Philharmonic. (OCYSO were the privileged  guests of the RPS in August, attending the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s stunning performance at the BBC Proms. That performance may have in fact shattered the old speed record. Check it out for yourself on BBC 3.)

Next: Gathering the Troops and Assembling the Gear for our ascent up this colossus.

Oxford University and Windsor Castle – and a farewell dinner

Our last full day in England — and it was pretty incredible, as we took in two top sights — Oxford University and Windsor Castle — and finished up with a farewell dinner for the whole crew in London.  We’re packing tonight for a rather early start tomorrow, as we need to get loaded up and out to Heathrow to catch our plane.  So here, in pictures, is our day!  Remember – I’ve been taking literally hundreds of photos every day, so when we return we will figure out how to give you access to all of them so you can share them.   OCYSO staff will be in touch with you on that.  See you soon!!


Entering Oxford. we passed the famous Eagle and Child pub where “The Inklings” writers’ group — including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis — often met.


View of Christ Church College, Oxford



OCYSO members watiting to enter Christ Church College, Oxford


Medieval fan vaulting on ceiling in Christ Church College, Oxford.


OCYSO members on the “Harry Potter Staircase” (seen in the films) in Christ Church College, Oxford.


Also used as inspiration in the Harry Potter films: “The Hall” (dining hall or refectory) in Christ Church College, Oxford.


South transept window of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford: St. Michael and angels battling a red dragon.


Window in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, by the 19th-century pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jones.


A thoughtful pause in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.


The high altar, carved and painted wood, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.


Tom Tower and Tom Quad, Christ Church College, Oxford.


OCYSO students in Tom Quad, Christ Church College, Oxford.


Heading to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.



One of our two great guides, Jan, tells us more about Oxford.


Exploring Oxford, cameras at the ready.


Pondering the history of Oxford .


Oxford landmark the Radcliffe Camera, now part of the Bodleian Library.




Get off the beaten tourist track in Oxford and you’ll find plenty of quiet streets.


Brasenose College, Oxford.


A peek inside one of the locked colleges at Oxford (most are not open to the public).


Group photo (of half of OCYSO, the “Bernstein” bus) in front of the “Bridge of Sighs” at Oxford – a copy of the one in Venice.


Pan figures on a building on St. Mary’s Lane, Oxford.


A boss (a shield at the joining of a groin vault) showing the crest of Oxford University.




Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s royal residences.  (She was not there — she spends August at Balmoral in Scotland.)


The “Long Mile” at Windsor Castle.


A spot of tea with Maestro Wachs and Concertmistress Phoebe Kim near Windsor Castle.


Farewell dinner in London – Maestro Wachs thanks the students for a fantastic concert tour of England!