Friday, 30 January 2015


Judit Szathmáry speaks out
Something that needs saying

If anyone can be counted a doyenne of conductors in England that is surely Judit Szathmáry.

In the mid eighties she was, I think, the first Hungarian conductor to up stakes and come to England, and become English – and she is still doing her thing. In early years she worked with families and in schools, and for charities (non-profits). She was the first conductor, I think, to form a charity herself. Then she was, I think, one of the first to recognise the danger to conductive ideals and practice inherent in the charitable model, and then to act upon this by launching out into the private sector. She has organised conferences, and boldly gone to work in some strange places. She has been among the first to explore the possibilities of operating without a fixed centre to serve as a base. And she has run innovative holiday scheme, in this country and in exotic locations oveseas, in luxury not in 'camps'. And she is still part of ininnovative practice, for example:

She has not seen it all, but she has lived a lot of it. Doyennes have.

'I think'. Much of what she has done has not been documented, at least in the public domain. A great pity that. Those who follow after might find something of use in her experience.

Judit has remained independent, she has survived and made a living. She keeps well away from institutions and CE micro-politics. A couple of days ago, however, she published a short, powerful statement on behalf of fellow conductors –
I have almost forgotten how cruel some projects can be to their conductors and how misinterpreted Conductive Education still is. Please look after your conductors they are still few and far between. Conductors make your hearts strong, keep your hearts open and pure.

I do not know what particular wretched circumstance she heard to occasion her posting this on Facebook (and were anyone to ask she is far too discrete to reveal it). What she wrote does seem to have struck a chord. 

Over the years I myself have been sometimes vicariously ashamed at how I see conductors referred to, or more often simply discounted, by those who employ them. It can seem as if conductors are a mute proletariat, just helots, instrumenta vocalia tools that speak – slaves. What a dreadful paradox, and what a waste.

Doyennes have earned themselves a certain licence to speak out. I do hope that Judit will continue to exercise her hard-earned licence.

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