In this interview conducted in his studio in Milan, orchestra conductor Massimiliano Caldi talks to us about the importance of dress code in his profession, and about the Gentlemen in the world of classical music.
Today we have the pleasure of meeting Massimiliano Caldi, Principal Conductor of the Rzeszów Philharmonic Orchestra, Poland, and First Guest Conductor of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Gdańsk. Massimiliano, is it true that a conductor has his own uniform? Which is yours?
I generally use a tailcoat. Dress code is important: whether it be a black shirt and black trousers, or a jacket and tie, or a double-breasted jacket, conductors generally remain faithful to their chosen outfit.
And what is Massimiliano Caldi’s casual wear?
Boggi Milano is famous world-wide for its Italian style. Is there a typically Italian approach to the interpretation of classical music?
I think that the Italian style of interpreting classical music is Muti conducting Verdi.
Boggi Milano remains true to traditional menswear, but the brand develops with every new collection. Does the same thing happen in your music?
Yes, definitely. Starting with Toscanini, and then Muti, orchestra conducting has returned to highlighting the composer’s original intentions, just as has happened in piano interpretation, with Michelangeli and Pollini, for example.
You are accustomed to applause and prizes. But is there a more difficult side to your profession?
It’s hardest when the applause ends, or just before it begins. Another difficult moment is the hour just before the concert or opera, when you feel insignificant when compared to the audience and the orchestra that will be playing with you. The second difficult moment is after the applause. There are many variables, and in the end you are on your own, in the hotel or the flat, reflecting on how it all really went.
In the field of music, have you met someone who fits the concept of a Gentleman better than others?
As regards orchestra conductors, the Indian conductor Zubin Mehta is a true Gentleman, with great elegance in his manners, his words, and his interactions with other musicians.
Boggi Milano is not about perfect men, but men who succeed in transforming their defects into strengths. Is there a defect that you would prefer to keep?
My wife says that I am egocentric and don’t let others get a word in, musicians say that I talk too much… but one characteristic that I would like to keep is obstinacy, which becomes a virtue in my job.
At Boggi Milano we think that there are certain rules that Gentlemen follow instinctively. In your opinion, what is the first rule for a Gentleman?
I think that a real Gentleman is a man who doesn’t have to stand out at all costs, but reveals his qualities when truly needed. And he knows how to listen to other people.
A Gentleman knows how to make his partner feel appreciated. What is the secret to winning a woman’s heart?
Thinking of my own, current experience, I would say always being willing to listen.
Some jazz pianists had their own personal chord that they played before a performance to express their musical identity. Is there a chord that you particularly like?
If I had to choose a chord, or rather a series of chords, to which I feel particularly attached at the moment, they would be a phrase from the Prologue to the opera Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito that I conducted at the Baltic Philharmonic in June. If you like, I’ll play them for you on my Bechstein…