Death of a Conductor / Dimitri(s) Mitropoulos

29 Dec

Have just started reading the Dimitri(s) Mitropoulos biography Santa brought me for Christmas and being my usual non linear biography slut, I picked a few chapters to start with. The most startling fact was that when he collapsed on the stage of La Scala, he was carrying a letter giving instructions for his funeral. I think it is worth quoting the whole letter here as seen in the book.

It is my irrevocable desire that in the event of my death a notice should be published to the effect that flowers should not be sent. If anybody wants to remember me, then he can make a contribution, in my name, and any capital that accrues thereby should be used to support American Composers, under the aegis of the New York Philharmonic Society. My mortal remains should not be put on public view; they should be cremated without any ceremony and in a manner which does not give rise to excessive cost. My ashes should be given to Mr. James Dixon, resident of the state of Iowa. They are to be placed in an amphora or some other suitable container, which shall be purchased for a nominal sum. The aforementioned James Dixon may, if he wishes, donate this amphora in order that burial can take place in Greece.

Page 441-442  Priest of Music: Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos by William R Trotter published in 1995 by Amadeus Press.

It is remarkable how a man known for his ascetic lifestyle remained humble and true to himself to the end. One of music’s great heroes and a totally uncharacteristic personality that rose to the ranks of legendary Conductors.  Maybe not exactly be a jolly blog post to end 2011, but a quietly inspirational subject for reflection amongst the noise of the fireworks and the tail end of the party season. Integrity and humility are maybe old fashioned values but they can never be underestimated.

Apologies for the ugly brackets but I’d rather use his proper Greek name Dimitris, as in this day and age we are more adept to cultural differences and don’t have to approximate to the nearest Anglicised form.

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