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At a moment when classical music is said to be divided between traditionalist audiences and progressive musicians, the Phil draws large, enthusiastic crowds to concerts of challenging new music. This fall, it started an ambitious centennial celebration, a yearlong dazzle of world premieres and spectacular performances, with Dudamel squarely at the center. ” The orchestra was in great shape before he arrived, under its previous music director, the acclaimed Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, but under Dudamel, it has soared. “I see people here sitting, they can be Democrats, they can be Republicans, they can be Catholics, they can be Protestant, or they can be whatever. And they say hi and they embrace each other and they talk.”Many conductors see their roles as explicitly political.
Not so many people believe in higher beauty these days, but Dudamel, the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, believes in it.
He believes in truth too, and in joy — especially in joy — and in the brotherhood of humankind and the freedom of the human spirit.
When you are under pressure to be the voice of a whole country, Iñárritu says, “the weight of it can be destroying. His evenings are a long montage of applause, flowers and someone else holding the door.
And I think he hasn’t been destroyed.”Dudamel is aware of what some people say about him. He recently married the Spanish actress Maria Valverde; he has a young son, Martin, from his first marriage, to the Venezuelan journalist and actress Eloísa Maturén, which ended in divorce in 2015. The music is marvelous, the long days are full of pleasure and all the time, he says, “I get more and more and more in love with what I do.”Didn’t Rousseau say somewhere that we carry our own happiness with us, in our hearts?
Dudamel moved his hands on the air like a person describing the ocean, and the strings melted. When everything comes together like this, when hundreds of people work as one to create something so special, he knows he is right to believe what Maestro Abreu taught him. The world will change — he believes this sincerely — if people only listen. Phil musician is more than $150,000, with the top principal making $500,000 or more; Dudamel himself earns just over $3 million a year.
He shook his fist like a king defying god, and happy avalanches crashed down on the empty seats. What can sound naïve and superficial in hard times is actually fundamental. Gustavo Dudamel, famous, handsome and rich, lives as if he wants to disprove Rousseau’s famous maxim on happiness. Ah, yes: He said we lose our happiness as soon as we gain it. In Los Angeles, Dudamel conducts one of the best-paid, most critically acclaimed and most financially stable orchestras in America. The orchestra reported 1 million in revenue in its 2016 tax filings and 0 million the year before that.
Everywhere he goes, he brings a dog-eared copy of Rousseau’s “Confessions” and the battered “Also Sprach Zarathustra” that he has carried around since his youth in Venezuela.
Now he and his orchestra, along with the chorus of the London Symphony, were about to tackle one of the purest expressions of the ideals he finds most stirring — the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the “Ode to Joy.”Dudamel has been the music director of the L. Phil for almost a decade, since he was hired as a 28-year-old wunderkind out of Caracas. Then came the slashing string and wind lines, like rain blowing sideways, with which Beethoven conjures maximum chaos and desperation before the bass soloist suddenly breaks through, singing When Dudamel conducts an orchestra these days, he feels a ghost at his shoulder.
The problem is whether the world will let him this happy — whether joy can be a viable artistic perspective in a time of social crisis; whether the ideals he cherishes can hold up against the unrest and chaos of history. The first time Dudamel stepped onto the conductor’s podium, at just 11 or 12, he meant it as a joke. His father, Oscar, played trombone in a salsa band, and his mother, Solange (she went by Sol), gave singing lessons.
As a little boy, he would arrange his Fisher-Price figurines in the shape of an orchestra, then put classical LPs on the record player and conduct them.