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Volume 14 - Issue 1 - September 2008

Vladimir Orloff- a life

Vladimir Orloff- a life in musicffim1NUED FROM PAGE 31featured soloist. As a state soloist I receiveda salary from the government. Romania hadonly six musicians awarded this title, includingviolinist Ion Voicu, pianist Mindru Katz,and cellist Radu Aldulescu. Although I hateCommunism, I must say that it worked tomy advantage. The state salary covered soloengagements with the Bucharest Symphony.As a soloist with other cities' orchestras, Ireceived an additional honorarium.However, I was not permitted to leave theCommunist bloc ... until they allowed me togo to the Geneva Competition.How did that come about?In 1962 I met the composer Anatol Vieruand asked him to compose a cello concertofor me. He was reluctant, saying that it wastoo difficult - The cello register complicatesthe balancing of cello and orchestra. To mygreat surprise, at our next meeting he announcedthat he was working on the concerto,had finished the first movement and wasworking on the second. It had to be finishedsoon because it had been submitted to theGeneva Competition for compositions andthe deadline was fast approaching. Vieru finishedthe concerto just in time and a tape ofthe work had to be in Geneva within threedays. I felt that I could not learn this newwork in less than three days. Vieru had goodconnections in Bucharest and a studio, an engineer,and an orchestra were made availableimmediately around the clock. Day andnight, we were living there practically ... sowe learned a little and then recorded it and soon and finally we finished it in time.The Vieru cello concerto won first place!!Now, because we won first prize, the two ofus were supposed to go to Geneva and givethe world premiere at a gala concert. .. andthe authorities could not say no.So when I was there I met some peoplefrom the Geneva competition and asked themwhy I never got any concerts or invitations. Imet the director of the Swiss Romande whotook me to his office and showed me correspondencewith the Romanian Concert Bureaumanagement. I saw that I was invitedmany times but the replies stated that I wassick or I had other engagements. The Romanianswere worried, of course, that I wouldnot return if allowed out. I asked the SwissRomande to send copies to me as well as theRomanian Concert Bureau, the next time. Inthis way, finally they let me go.The first tour in Switzerland consisted offive or six concerts and recitals. I was therewith my wife, Marietta, who was my accompanist,and when we finished the tour wehad one free week before a concert tour inYugoslavia. We decided to go to Vienna. InVienna I went to say hello to a man who metme at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest.Hans was a very nice person. I didn'tspeak German but Hans asked me what am Igoing to do now and suggested that I shouldstay in Vienna. I wanted to say that I wasn'tprepared yet ... we had only my cello and asuitcase. I said that I would do it at the nextopportunity. Hans replied, "How do youknow there will be a next time. Besides,your wife is with you now and this is notlikely to happen again. Wait a minute .. . " Hepicked up the phone and called the ViennaPhilharmonic office saying "I have someoneyou should hear."An appointment was arranged for the nextday and I was immediately hired and told toreport tomorrow for rehearsals. Of course Ihad to do the required official audition. Ishared the news with my wife ... "Do westay or go." We stayed. We were giving upeverything: fame, recognition and possessionsto begin life in Vienna. The positionwith the Vienna Philharmonic provided forrent and food but it was a difficult time forme, particularly because of the language.The VPO is an independent organisationwith the same personnel as the Vienna StateOpera Orchestra. The members drew theirsalaries from the Opera, not from the Philharmonicconcerts. The Philharmonic had 15cellos and, like all other instruments, theyworked in the Opera on a rotation system.Even for Wagner or Richard Strauss, onlyeight to ten cellos are needed; for Verdi sixor seven; for Mozart only four or five.There are always a few members free. Oneday Leonard Bernstein came and we had rehearsalsin the morning, a recording sessionfor Decca in the afternoon, and a concert inthe evening. And still some members werefree. This system was very well organizedand my partner at the cello desk helped mewith it.I still did not have resident papers so Iwent to the police and asked for asylum . TheFlashback: cover of a flyer advertising a March28, 1978 concert at Massey Hall, featuring Orloffplaying the Khachaturian cello concerto as soloistwith the Toronto Symphony. Tickets for theconcert ranged from . 00 to . 00!police officer asked why I needed asylum. Itold him that I was a concert cellist and Iwant to play concerts anywhere in the Westbut the Romanian authorities won' t let meout. In my profession one must travel aroundand not just stay in one place. The police answeredthat they couldn't grant me politicalasylum on the grounds that the Romanianswouldn't let me play music in the West ...ridiculous ... not a good enough reason! Iwas disappointed and went back to myfriend, Baron Otto Meyer, who undertook totake care of everything. I have no idea ofhow he did it but in two weeks I had a passport.This was a passport without citizenship,which meant I had to have visas . So, ifI couldn't get a visa I just stayed with theOpera and the orchestra travelled without me.After two years with the Philharmonic, Iwas invited to become a professor at the ViennaAcademy, which automatically grantedme citizenship. At the Academy I had toteach only two days a week and had lots oftime to play and travel, so I looked out forconcert opportunities. Pierre Fournier and hiswife helped me to get concerts as did GaspardCassado ... I knew them from Genevawhen I played in the competitions. They hadattended the concert of the winners.WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM

Cassada came to Vienna to give a concertwhich I attended and afterward went withhim and his group for dinner. In this group Imet Peter Weiser, who organized all the concertsat the Vienna Konzerthaus. Later, at anafter-concert dinner at the Fourniers, I metWeiser again. Madame Fournier was veryactive in promoting me. After that Weiser invitedme to be a soloist with the ViennaSymphony and I played my favourite, theRococo Variations. That was on January 13,1966 and the conductor was Zdenek Kosier.In November 1968 I played the Boccheriniwith the Vienna Philharmonic and HeinrichHollreiser. Very favourable reviews.Who else do you remember from this time?The Romanian conductor Constantin Silvestriwho had defected two years before me hadbecome very famous. Much earlier, my firstsolo concert in Bucharest had been conductedby Silvestri. I wrote informing him that I hadleft Romania and was not returning. Silvestriwas the artistic director of the BournemouthSymphony and he immediately invited me toplay there and also recommended me to hisUK management. Concerts were arranged inLondon where I played the Dvorak Concertowith Sir Adrian Boult ... a really nice man.He didn't argue at all. Also the Elgar withSir John Barbirolli. In general, very goodconductors don't interfere with the soloist'sway of doing things. They might suggest,but great conductors adapt. So everythingwas great for me ... I had concerts all overEurope and had a good paying position atthe Vienna Academy.So why Toronto?I received a letter. Ezra Schabas, who was incharge of the string department at the Universityof Toronto, wrote offering me a positionas professor. This invitation was promptedby a strong recommendation from JanosStarker. In Vienna I had everything; exceptthat because I left Romania I had been sentenced,in absentia, to 10 years in prison.Romania was close to Vienna and in mytravels, if by chance my plane should touchdown there, I feared arrest. I accepted theToronto offer and contracted for one year. Inthat way I could take a leave of absence fromVienna and, if I were not comfortable in Toronto,I could return to the Academy. Happily,everything worked out. .. the studentswere nice and the political climate peaceful.I was fast-tracked in Toronto as I hadbeen in Vienna. Again, doors opened forme. The next step was to get an engagementwith the Toronto Symphony. Karel Ancerlwas the conductor then and I knew him fromour concerts in Prague. He invited me toplay and suggested Strauss's Don Quixote,an attractive piece but not that attractive forthe cello soloist. I wanted to do somethingelse but Ancerl insisted. While I was back inVienna, winding up my affairs, a letter camefrom Ancerl saying that he had a big scandalwith the orchestra's first cellist, PeterSchenkman, who argued that Quixote wastraditionally played by the principal cellistand not by a guest soloist. Ancerl asked meto select a concerto and I chose the ShostakovichE flat, which I liked very much. It wasa big success, even though it was not yet arepertory piece and many in the audiencewere hearing it for the first time.(The following day, Wednesday, April 11,1973, William Littler wrote in the TorontoStar: " .. . He scampered his way through thefirst movement with pinpoint accuracy andnarrowed and intensified the focus of histone into a pure shaft of silver to sing hisway through the Moderato. Sing, yes, andwhisper, too. By the time he reached the cadenza,he was making more out of the composer'sshadowy plucking and sudden burstsof melody than this listener had dreamt themusic contained. What a bow arm! Andwhat impeccable intonation! In short, hereWholeNote MarketPlace$ ? .~ NEED HELP WITH YOUR TAXES?Specializing in personal, business,partnership, and corporate tax returnsincluding prior years and adjustments.Call Norm Pulker905-830-2985npulker@rogers.comfax: 905-830-9810• free consultation• accurate work• pickup & deliveryarrangedthe business of the arts· fundraising· development· publicity· marketing•LAURA ADLERSwww.lauraadlers.comT: (416) 467-0634la ura@la uraad lers.comwas a performance on the plane of completetechnical assurance - the kind that relieveslistener and player alike of anxiety and freesthem to search beyond technique into themeaning of the music ... "After that I was asked back by the orchestraevery two years, for a total of five engagements.This was the perfect life ... to teachat the school ... to play ... to tour ... andthen become popular and have the studentswant to come to you at the school. I playedchamber music with my faculty colleagues,Lorand Fenyves and Patricia Parr, and in atrio with Steve Staryk and Gloria Saarinen. Ialso presented concerts and recordings withMarietta, my wife. There is nothing Ihaven't played that I wanted to. I have alwaysplayed the full repertoire available.What I enjoy are the Rococo Variations andShostakovich ... These are pieces that resonatewith me.Orloff continued teaching and concertizinguntil 2002. His last tour was in Romania.He had received amnesty from the new regimeand was awarded top state honoursand ceremoniously decorated.Vladimir Orloff may be heard playing allthe concertos mentioned above in addition toSchumann, Khachaturian, Saint-Saens, theBrahms Double, the two Haydn concertos,and a few sonatas. (DOREMI DHR 7711/3and 7896).Professional ServicesRelease pain.Relax. Breathe. Move.'--'Dr. Katarina Bulat B.sc. o.c. r&~1us1c 1A~>Chiropractor 416-461-1906P,ivare practice. 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