His father, esteemed Russian conductor Mikhail Jurowski, studied with a protege of Mahler's protege. "At first, studying with my father seemed like the most natural thing in the world," Jurowski, 37, said when he assumed the role of principal conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra two years ago. "But then I started feeling embarrassed about my privileged position, uncomfortable about all his help and advice - which was silly, but it was my attempt to gain autonomy. I needed to discover things for myself."
Saturday night, Jurowski leads the London orchestra in a benefit concert for Tilles Center's endowment fund. The program, to hear Jurowski talk about it, is all about discovering one's own musical autonomy.
BEETHOVEN The concert opens with Ludwig van's Violin Concerto in D major, featuring wunderkind soloist Yossif Ivanov, 23, who recently wowed Europe, debuting to rave notices in all the important musical capitals - London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg and Geneva. Beethoven, of course, was part of "the great pantheon of the dead," as Jurowski puts it. His greatness so intimidated even a genius such as Brahms that he was well into his 40s before completing his first symphony.
BRAHMS But once he got over the hurdle of the first one, it took only a few months to write No. 2, which Jurowski will conduct at Tilles. "We sometimes forget what a composer had to go through before it came to the creation of this beautiful and seemingly easy work," he says. "It was a long and painful process, coming out of the shadow of Beethoven and finding the courage, when in his own words, he considered himself not strong enough, not independent, not autonomous."
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MAHLER Though there are no Mahler pieces on the program, consider putting money on it as an encore. And not just because of Jurowski's musical lineage. Mahler's "Das klagende Lied (Song of Lamentation)" was part of his premiere as the London Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor. But Jurowski declares his own autonomy: When asked to compare himself to an "emotional" maestro, notably the late Leonard Bernstein, he says, "Bernstein was a performing composer. I am not. He came to conducting through composition - like Mahler - and that gave him a totally different perspective." Jurowski prefers to express rather than emote. "Expressivity," he says, "is the active force that unlocks emotion."WHAT Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday at Tilles Center, C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, Brookville
INFO $50-$100; tillescenter.org, 516-299-3100