I HAD to become a musician

This must have happened in either 1989 or 1990. I was twelve or thirteen years old when my parents went to see the Vienna Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. We kids stayed at home.

Late that night I heard the key of my parents opening our door and something very unusual happend. My father, who was normally very keen on not waking us boys, came up to my room announcing: “This was the most amazing concert ever. You have to experience this. Tomorrow we are going to the concert together!”

Wow. “NEED TICKET”. I already pictured ourselves in the cold rainy night with a handwritten cardboard sign, but no luck.

“No problem!” my father shouted, “we will smuggle ourselves inside. Nobody will notice!”, he shouted triumphantly, waiving the torn-off ticket stubs in his hand. “YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS!”

The next day I felt quite nervous, uncomfortable in fact, after all, we were going to do something forbidden! The twenty-minute drive to the concert hall seemed endless.

“Enter the restaurant, have a coke and water at the bar, then intermingle with the folks who enjoyed their intermission drinks and walk ‘back’ into the hall, covering the subscription series letter on the tickets.” That was our secret plan.

We did it exactly like that. “Tickets, please”. The steward had an authoritative voice. A short flash of the well-covered ticket stubs and a nod later we were inside. Puh! Peaking into the hall, we realized we weren’t the only ones who had pulled-off a “Smuggler’s Trick”. Every inch of the the walls was lined by people who obviously had no valid tickets for the night. What a sight!

The orchestra appeared, tuned, the lights went softer and the eyes of the people around me were all nervously searching for the first sight of Lenny, as Bernstein was called by his fans.

There he was. Lots of applause. A few friendly bows later, there was dead silence in the hall. And then the music started…

To be honest, I don’t remember much of what happened afterwards. I was carried away by the music. Seventy minutes of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Lenny was dancing and jumping and sweating and almost falling-off the podium.

At the end, when the last triumphant chord of the music hit the back wall, the whole hall erupted! People were jumping up in their seats and started moving towards the stage. I also wanted to be close to Lenny, seeing him from a short distance. Tears were flowing down my face, I was totally overwhelmed.

Later at the artist’s entrance, there was a huge crowd waiting for Lenny to come. When he finally appeared the mood was all solemn, eerily quite. We knew we had experienced something amazing, so no unnecessary words were wasted.

On our way back home, sitting silently in the car, the only thing I would think about was: “I want to become a musician as well!”

Today, some thirty years later, music is still what keeps me going. I dedicate all my creativity and love to music – working now for the other „greatest conductor of all times“: Herbert von Karajan.

© Matthias Röder