Another aspect of the life of sounds, of their instability, is that the sounds live through
the interpreters, and that each interpreter is different. Each person has, so to speak, their
personal phenomenology. For each person you have to discover the things that are valid. Music
has to acknowledge fully the uniqueness of persons and the fact that sounds only come alive
through persons. It is not the person in the voluntary sense, but in the more objective,
"given", sense. For example, I've literally dreamt my music two or three times; an
unimagineable splendour, my ears exploding with a sound so magnificent that I had no way
to recreate it. But, when I woke up, I was left with a kind of glowing emblematic image in
my memory. This stayed with me, it had a kind of precision, very concrete, very real. What I
am saying is that this is just me, a personal experience, and that my music reflects something
that is in my unconscious. So it's not something artificial, imagined: it's ingrained in me.
The ideal is in my unconscious. Of course there are other conceptions of the ideal - social,
and so on - but here, in the case of my music, there is this inner ideal which I've been able
to possess in a completely concrete form in a completely realised experience a very small
number of times in my dreams. This is something really fabulous, to have this ideal sound
in all its richness, its harmonic complexity...
So I was criticised not only by the official people but also by these unofficial people. Later, when they started to win official prizes, they thought of me as a wasted talent. What they didn't see was that real talent means being driven to go into as yet unknown areas, to find a space that is uniquely your own.
What I offer to musicians is a re-education in musical technique which goes back to the source, to the basis of rhythm, to the pythagorean monochord, to the thousand other possibilities for making music with a single string, or blowing a single note. Clearly my associates are not always able to follow this musical adventure. If they also happen to be working in orchestras several times a day, they get contaminated by other musics. There is a lack of exposure to techniques of concentration such as Zen and Yoga in Romania. Musicians - and I'm talking not just about Romanian musicians, but about all musicians here - find it hard to concentrate spontaneously on what is happening in the moment; they can only concentrate in a consciously directed way.
... my music has a primitive aspect, like primitive painting: a human primitivity. In my musicians, I'm looking for a region of the psyche where there are nuances of the pre-cultural.
I realised that Western culture is only aware of a small part of a much wider rhythmic conception based in biological rhythm, and the notion of feedback in information theory. Western musical culture has succeeded in abolishing real pauses. If you listen to Beethoven, the thinking is actually all continuous; there is this projection of an external meter that always carries on, even when the music is taking little breaths between the notes. But this is just one possibility. It is not necessary to coordinate music only by meter. Of course this has given us tremendous riches. The idea of symphonic music depends on synchronization. But there is also a lack of freedom, of diversity. In my music there are coordinated parts and also free rhythm parts. Measured music is just one case in a potentially vaster musical world that acknowledges birdsong, breath...
Something that arises from this difference in conceptions of rhythm, is that when you are working with conventionally trained musicians, and you persuade a musician in the group of the rightness of a certain rhythm of playing, then all the others get contaminated and follow the same rhythm. In fact what you want is to get each musician's part coherent in itself, to have it played in its own rhythm, which is also the rhythm of that musician at that time.
What is Orphism for me? There is, of course, the cultural link, that Orpheus was a hero of the Thracian people who lived in my country. But what is my personal reading of Orphism?
First, all or any part of reality can be sacralised. But this domain of the sacred is unknown, uncertain. You need a special courage to go towards it. Secondly, this Orphic domain is the domain of metaphor, linked to art. It's not the world of reality; in music you are making something which is behind reality. Sometimes I even try to show that to the audience in the way I conduct the group, to make people's minds look further than what is physically in front of them. Music is not sound, it's behind, beyond sound, revealed by sound. It's a type of communication, but what is communicated is not rational, and to this extent, music is "like" mysticism. The aesthetic is aurioled by something that is evident but indefinable. Hence the attitude is mystical, even if the music is not.
The third aspect is that the Orphic geste is unique, unrepeatable. Orpheus did things in a new space, entirely new things. You arrive in this space, you have this experience, and it dies immediately after you have it. I come to London, and my intention - I failed on this occasion, tragically for me - is to do something absolutely unique, unknown even by me, that can never happen again. I have a schema, and I want to aim for a new experience, and this is the Orphic experience.
How can I prepare for this? By opening myself to the flow passing through every instant, which is outside me, which descends onto everyone. This I learned from my great teacher, Sergiu Celibidache, the conductor and philosopher, who I was fortunate enough to meet around 1973. I can describe his attitude like this: Celibidache is going to tour with an orchestra, conducting Beethoven's Third. After twelve days of rehearsals with the orchestra he says, "I come to the performance empty; I refuse to know what I'm going to conduct." He comes onto the podium and raises his baton for the auftakt, and in that instant of suspension every single detail of that moment in time becomes relevant to the performance.
Only by opening the whole configuration in this way can it have a chance of acknowledging every aspect of the living situation. You are putting your heart on the table. You throw away the guarantee of a merely satisfactory, but at least competent, performance. The awareness of every musician is opened out to all the possible combinations of the instrumental parts that come alive from the score.
complete interview here