Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer, September 23, 2009
I finally had a chance to sit down with Paavo Järvi yesterday and here’s how he remembered Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel, who died Sept. 1:
“The things I will always remember were the personal experiences. He was a very personable and warm man. I remember when my kids were born, he sent me these (he holds up a ceramic plate and vase, engraved with the names and birthdates of each of his daughters). These were personally made for me, from him. To me, that was such a touching gesture. He could have just sent me an e-mail congratulations. But he was very thoughtful, and a good colleague.
“The main thing to me, which I think I’ll remember and miss the most, is the personality. It is one of the last ones of that era, when people were larger-than-life personalities. He knew how to be a larger-than life personality because he was one. It wasn’t something that he put on. This era of those people is coming to an end. Now people are very often, sort of, smaller than life. People you expect to be big in some major way, they don’t dare to interact in a powerful and positive way, like when you had Bernsteins and Karajans and Soltis and all those giants. He was part of that era. It was that type of personality that took the lead.
“I remember being in his house (in Naples) and he walked me around the garden. There were hundreds of plants and trees. He planted each of them himself, and he explained why: Because of the way the sunlight hit at 4 p.m. for one, and so on. It was amazing. He pointed out renovations he had done, and designs he made. The guy was full of creativity and creative energy. Just positive energy, that’s what I remember about him.”
Järvi conducts CSO concerts Friday through Sunday in Music Hall, and he’ll lead the first “Pathways” concert on Sunday, including a post-concert discussion.
Watch for the full interview in this Sunday’s Enquirer.