Bernstein's SECRET to INSTANT SUCCESS on Stage: Best Music Lesson Ever!

15 May 202421:45

TLDRIn this insightful video, the host discusses the concept of playing music at a slower pace, as was common in the 19th century. They argue that composers like Beethoven and Chopin used the metronome differently, correlating the note value with each other click rather than each click of the metronome. This 'whole beat metronome practice' is presented as an authentic way to approach the music of that era. The video also features an interview with Leonard Bernstein, who shares his unconventional approach to conducting Wagner's 'Tristan,' playing it slower to allow for deeper expression and audience engagement. The host emphasizes the importance of courage in performing music true to the composer's intentions, despite potential audience expectations, and hints at an upcoming special event related to the release of their symphony recordings.


  • 🎼 **Authenticity in Music Performance**: The video discusses the idea that playing music slower can be more authentic to how composers like Beethoven, Chopin, and Mendelssohn intended their pieces to be heard.
  • 🕰️ **Whole Beat Metronome Practice**: It is suggested that 19th-century musicians used metronomes differently, correlating the note value with each other click rather than each click of the metronome.
  • 👩‍🎤 **Breathing Room for Singers**: Singers and wind players reportedly find it easier to breathe and perform when music is played at a slower tempo, contrary to the belief that slower tempos would be detrimental.
  • 🎶 **Paradigm Shift in Music Interpretation**: The video posits that a fundamental shift in how we understand historical musical tempos is necessary, which will be further explored in an upcoming book.
  • 📚 **Historical Evidence**: The book will provide extensive historical evidence dating back to the 15th century to support the claim of a different approach to tempo in classical music.
  • 👴 **Bernstein's Experience**: The video references Leonard Bernstein's approach to conducting Wagner's Tristan, where he played it slower than usual, leading to a profound experience for the audience.
  • 🎵 **Importance of Pauses**: Bernstein emphasized the significance of pauses in music, noting how they can create tension and anticipation, leading to a more engaging performance.
  • 🚀 **Courage to Challenge Tradition**: The video encourages musicians to have the courage to challenge traditional tempos and performance practices to bring out the true essence of the music.
  • 👂 **Listening Experience**: Playing in whole beat changes the listening experience, requiring a different touch and accentuation, which can be more engaging for the audience.
  • 🎙️ **Bernstein's Contradictory Stance**: The video points out a contradiction in Bernstein's approach, where he sometimes prioritized his personal interpretation over the practical needs of singers, as evidenced in a performance of Mahler's Lied von der Erde.
  • 🌟 **The Impact of Bold Choices**: The narrative highlights that when musicians make bold choices in tempo and interpretation, the audience's experience can be deeply affected, leading to a more profound connection with the music.

Q & A

  • Why do the musicians in the channel tend to play music slower than usual?

    -They believe that composers and musicians from the past, such as Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, used the metronome differently, correlating the note value with each other click rather than each click of the metronome, which results in a slower tempo.

  • What is the claim made about the whole beat metronome practice?

    -The whole beat metronome practice is claimed to be an authentic way of approaching the music from the 19th century, as it reflects how the metronome was used during that time.

  • What was the reaction of the singers who participated in the recording of the Ninth Symphony when playing at a slower tempo?

    -The singers reported that they finally had time to breathe, as slower tempos allow for better breath control and management.

  • What is the concern raised by some about playing music slower in modern performances?

    -The concern is that audiences might fall asleep or that singers and wind players might suffocate due to not having enough breath to hold long notes.

  • What does Bernstein discuss in the video excerpt about his experience with Wagner's Tristan?

    -Bernstein talks about conducting the prelude to Tristan much slower than usual, which goes against the trends of his time. He shares an anecdote where the famous conductor Carl Böhm expressed that he was hearing Tristan for the first time due to the slower tempo.

  • Why do some conductors avoid playing Wagner as Wagner wrote it?

    -They fear boring the audience and believe that a slower tempo might make the performance less engaging. As a result, they speed up the tempo to keep the music moving.

  • What does Bernstein suggest is the most boring thing in the world for an audience?

    -Bernstein suggests that the most boring thing for an audience is when performers speed up the music so much that they don't have time to highlight the beauty of each element, causing the audience to miss many details.

  • What insight does Bernstein provide about the effect of long pauses on the audience?

    -Bernstein explains that when long pauses are observed in a performance, the audience initially becomes nervous and restless, but after a while, they start to appreciate the effect and enter a different, more attentive state of listening.

  • Why does Bernstein believe that speeding up music can lead to the audience getting bored?

    -Bernstein believes that speeding up music leads to the audience getting bored because important details and elements of beauty are skipped over, resulting in a lack of depth and clarity in the performance.

  • What does the speaker suggest about the importance of courage when performing music in a slower, more authentic style?

    -The speaker suggests that performers need to have the courage to play from the first note in a slower, more authentic style, regardless of audience expectations, to create a truly impactful and different listening experience.

  • What is the significance of the upcoming release of the physical boxes of the Ninth Symphony recording mentioned in the script?

    -The significance is that there will be a special event or offer associated with the official release of the physical boxes, which fans of the channel and music lovers should look forward to and not miss.



🎵 The Authenticity of Slow Tempos in Classical Music

The speaker introduces the concept of playing classical music at slower tempos than modern standards, referencing their recording of Beethoven's 9th Symphony as an example. They argue that composers from the 19th century, such as Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, used metronome markings differently, correlating note values with each other tick of the metronome rather than each tick. This approach, known as whole beat metronome practice, is presented as an authentic way to perform music from that era. Despite potential criticism that such slow tempos could bore the audience or challenge performers' breath control, the speaker defends this method, citing the positive experience of singers in their recording. There is a mention of an upcoming book that will delve into this practice with historical evidence, aiming to cover 500 years of music history from this new perspective.


🎼 Bernstein's Unconventional Approach to Wagner

The speaker shares an anecdote about the renowned conductor Leonard Bernstein's unique interpretation of Wagner's 'Tristan' Prelude, which was slower than conventional performances. Bernstein's approach was challenged by his sound manager but validated by the renowned conductor Carl Böhm, who felt he was hearing 'Tristan' for the first time due to the slower tempo. Bernstein believed that the fear of boring the audience led conductors to rush through pieces, thereby actually causing boredom by skipping details. This aligns with the speaker's advocacy for slower tempos, suggesting that taking the time to fully express the music prevents audience disengagement.


🎶 The Impact of Tempo on Audience Perception

Bernstein discusses the effect of tempo on the audience, particularly the challenge of maintaining long pauses as intended by Wagner. He describes the audience's reaction to these pauses, which initially cause confusion and concern, but ultimately lead to a deeper engagement with the music. The speaker connects this to the concept of playing in 'whole beat,' suggesting that mastering this language of music allows for a different accentuation and listening experience. Bernstein's insights are used to argue for the importance of courage in performing music as the composer intended, even if it defies current trends or audience expectations.


🎵 Bernstein's Contradiction: Tempo and Artistic Integrity

The narrative presents a contrasting view of Bernstein, showing a moment where he prioritizes his own tempo choices over the needs of a singer, mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, in a performance of Mahler's 'Lied von der Erde.' Despite her concern about the slower tempo affecting her ability to articulate the words, Bernstein dismisses the importance of clarity for the audience, revealing a potential contradiction between his public advocacy for slower tempos and his actual practice. This example is used to illustrate the complexities and nuances in artistic decision-making, suggesting that even Bernstein, a staunch advocate for slower tempos in some contexts, could be swayed by other considerations.


🎤 Courage in Performance: Embracing the Authentic

The speaker concludes by emphasizing the need for courage in performance, suggesting that playing music authentically, as demonstrated by the slow tempos of the Holbein practice, can lead to a profound audience experience. They recount a conversation with a piano teacher about the pressure to conform to audience expectations but argue that staying true to the music's language and not worrying about the audience's immediate reaction can lead to a more impactful performance. The speaker also teases an upcoming special event related to the release of their 9th Symphony recording, inviting viewers to stay tuned for details.




A metronome is a device that produces a steady pulse of ticks at a rate that can be set by the user, commonly used by musicians to keep time. In the video, the metronome is discussed in the context of historical practice, suggesting that 19th-century composers and musicians may have used metronome markings differently than they are interpreted today. For example, the script mentions that they correlated the note value with each other click of the metronome, rather than each click, which would result in slower tempos.


Authenticity in a musical context refers to performing a piece in a manner that is true to the composer's original intentions or the style of the period in which it was composed. The video discusses the concept of authenticity in relation to tempo and the use of the metronome, suggesting that slower, 'whole beat' tempos might more accurately reflect the intentions of composers like Beethoven and Chopin.


Tempo is the speed or pace at which music is played. The script argues for a slower tempo in the performance of classical music, based on a reinterpretation of historical metronome use. It contrasts the common modern practice of faster tempos with the idea that slower tempos might allow for greater expression and a more authentic interpretation of the music.

💡Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein was a renowned American conductor, composer, and pianist. In the video, Bernstein's approach to conducting Wagner's 'Tristan' is highlighted as an example of a departure from traditional tempos, suggesting that his slower interpretation was more authentic and had a profound impact on listeners, including the famous conductor Carl Böhm.


Richard Wagner was a German composer known for his operas. The script discusses Bernstein's interpretation of Wagner's 'Tristan' Prelude, which was performed at a slower tempo than usual. This slower tempo is presented as an example of a potentially more authentic and emotionally resonant approach to performing classical music.

💡Paradigm Shift

A paradigm shift refers to a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. The video describes the move towards slower, 'whole beat' tempos as a paradigm shift in the way classical music is performed and perceived, challenging the established norms and potentially leading to a new understanding of musical authenticity.


In a musical context, breathing refers to the ability of singers and wind instrument players to manage their breath during performance. The script suggests that slower tempos provide more opportunities for these performers to breathe, which can enhance the quality of their performance and prevent issues such as suffocation.


Tradition in music often refers to the established practices and interpretations that have been passed down over time. The video challenges certain traditions of classical music performance, particularly regarding tempo, suggesting that they may not accurately reflect the intentions of the original composers.


Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist, one of the most admired musicians in the history of Western classical music. The script uses Beethoven as an example to discuss the potential misinterpretation of tempo in classical music performance, suggesting that slower tempos might be more authentic to his compositions.


In the context of this video, 'Holbein' seems to refer to a style or method of playing music, possibly named after the Renaissance painter Hans Holbein the Younger, although the exact meaning is not clear from the script. It is suggested as an alternative approach to playing music that involves slower tempos and different accents, which could lead to a unique and powerful listening experience.


Performance in this video refers to the act of playing music, particularly in a public setting such as a concert. The script discusses the impact of tempo on performance, suggesting that slower tempos can lead to a more engaging and authentic musical experience for both the performers and the audience.


The channel plays music slower than usual to reflect historical practice.

Composers and musicians in the 19th century used metronomes differently than today.

The whole beat metronome practice is believed to be an authentic approach to historical music.

Slowing down music allows singers and wind players to breathe more effectively.

There is hesitance in the established circle to adopt this new way of playing.

Leonhard Bernstein's unconventional approach to Wagner's Tristan challenged the trends of his time.

Bernstein played the prelude to Tristan much slower than usual, receiving acclaim from Carl Böhm.

Europeans often avoid playing Wagner as he intended for fear of boring the audience.

Bernstein suggests that speeding up music actually bores the audience by skipping details.

19th-century musicians warned against speeding up music, advocating for a more authentic tempo.

Bernstein's experience with an eight-beat rest in performance demonstrates audience engagement with slower tempos.

Bernstein's approach to the Tristan chord at the climax of the piece extends it to an impressive length.

Despite his insights on tempo, Bernstein also fell into the trap of fearing the audience's reaction.

Christa Ludwig disagreed with Bernstein's tempo in a performance of Mahler's Lied von der Erde.

Bernstein prioritized his artistic vision over ensuring clarity of words in performance.

The video argues for the importance of courage in performing music at slower, more historically accurate tempos.

An upcoming special event will be announced for the release of the Ninth Symphony recordings.