We've been talking about his sartorial prowess for ages (since back when OC was writing for WMag's Editors' Blog) and last week British conductor Daniel Harding was back in one of Europe's fashion capitals to conduct Filarmonica della Scala in a Dvořák/Beethoven one-two punch.
Between throwing an open rehearsal the day prior to his January 9th concert and ducking into Tom Ford on via Verri for a personal fitting, Harding shared with OC a few thoughts on his Dvořák/Beethoven concert, Carlo Maria Giulini (who the concert was dedicated to) and Milan's winter sales.
If your Italian skills are better than Hans Landa's, click here to read the interview on OC's Grazia.it Stasera Esco column. If your Italian's more like Aldo Raine's, click the link below and say ~Gorlami~.
Since his high-profile Teatro alla Scala premiere in 2005 with Mozart's Idomeneo, 37-year-old British conductor Daniel Harding hasn't forgotten about Milan. He's returned a handful of times through the years to conduct opera, ballet and symphony.
The Oxford-born, Paris-based conductor was in Milan on January 9 to conduct the Filarmonica della Scala’s first concert of 2012. The concert was in homage of the great Italian Maestro, Carlo Maria Giulini, Music Director of Teatro alla Scala from 1953-1956.
The evening prior, on January 8, Harding hosted an open rehearsal to open Teatro alla Scala's new project, "La Filarmonica incontra la città",a cycle of five open rehearsals in which Filarmonica della Scala collects funds for Milan's official volunteer organizations.
Harding led soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann on the violin (he plays a 1711 Stradivarius) in Ludwig van Beethoven's Concerto for Violin. In the second half, the orchestra played Antonín Dvořák's Ninth Symphony.
The young British Maestro shared his thoughts on his Dvořák/Beethoven concert, Carlo Maria Giulini (and a huge shout-out to his favorite conductors) and Milan's winter sales!
Your concert with Filarmonica della Scala on January 9 sold out in only a few hours. In January, during a post-holiday period when everyone wants to save money and because of Italy's new austerity measures, why do you think it was such a hot ticket?
Honestly, I have no idea! I'm thrilled that so many people wanted to come. But who wouldn't want to hear great music in a beautiful theatre played by one of the world's greatest violinists and orchestras, regardless of who conducts?! It's worth pointing out that -- thanks to the Prova Aperta scheme and the dress rehearsal for young people scheme -- we played the program three times to full houses. That's fantastic! I think that, for many of us, sharing our passion with others is a fundamental reason for playing music. The more people we can share that with, the better! These are, of course, hard times financially for many people. I am happy if we, as a community, understand that art and culture have a huge role to play in feeding our imaginations, curiosity and fantasy.
Your concert at Teatro alla Scala earlier this week was dedicated to the great Italian conductor Carlo Maria Giulini, former MD of La Scala from 1953–1956. What's so exemplary about his legacy? Are there any other conductors living or dead that you greatly admire?
Giulini was a musician of extraordinary elegance and subtlety. I think he is a prime example of this strange phenomenon of a conductor seeming to carry his 'sound' with him. Orchestras play differently always, depending on who is conducting. Giulini got a glowing, warm sound with his musicians that the rest of us can only dream of!
Other conductors that I admire? Abbado and Rattle were my mentors so they hold a very special place for me. With them (and with so many musicians) the more one gets to know their understanding of music, the more one is enthralled! Harnoncourt has been a huge influence on me. Not everybody will always agree with his way of music-making, but I think that is unimportant. I never hear a piece the same way again after hearing him perform it. The depth of his understanding and thought is astonishing. Muti, Karajan, Toscanini, Thielemann, Weingartner, Bernstein, Furtwängler, Walter, Gergiev, Gatti, Chailly, Jansons. I could continue. There is much to learn from everybody!
You’re known as a stylish maestro, wearing brands like Tom Ford and Trussardi. You’re in Milan during the first few days of the winter sales. Any purchases planned? Any stores you'll visit?
Milan is a shopping paradise. For men, there is nowhere better. But austerity is important for everyone these days. This time in Milan, I got measured for a new morning dress – there is nothing more elegant for a man to wear. I’m happy that my job guarantees that I get to wear such beautiful and elegant clothes. Of course, I went to Tom Ford for that. When it comes to tailoring, I know how much he respects the traditions and knowledge of Savile Row. And as an Englishman, that makes me just a tiny bit proud.