Regarding his choice to appear on Maestro: I wanted to learn something. It opened up a whole new appreciation for classical music.
These composers are hipper than anything we’ve got today, and it was an opportunity to learn a discipline that I hadn’t ever experienced before.
Conducting is not just flapping your arms around. It is a deceptively intricate craft and therein lies the frustration. You don’t learn overnight what it’s taken the best conductors in the world a lifetime to understand. I’m a bit past the point in my life when competition is the most important thing. You know, I’ve competed most of my life. This is more about learning. … I grew up in Berlin. This was in late 1949–1956, you know, when really the greatest gift — because nobody had any money then, nobody had anything then, because they were still pulling themselves out of the rubble of the Second World War — what they did have was music. My mother was a Lieder singer. She sang Schubert and Schumann; we sang the Bach Cantatas as a family, and that kind of thing … and I remember sitting in concerts with my old man , my Dad, and a certain strain or certain section or certain segment was played, and I could feel him sitting next to me going [takes in several quick breaths] … that sort of thing that babies do when they cry, you know when they try to get their breath, and I knew — because my Dad really didn’t show his emotions very much — how much it touched him. And I think that’s one of the things that sort of made me curious. … I still see myself as a kid standing in my living room with nobody around directing this stuff, and that part of me is never dead. …
David’s reaction to the physical demands of his first conducting session: I never worked so fucking hard in my life! Holy cow! [laughs] It’s been a real challenge, but very exciting. I’ll tell you, it’s a lot scarier to face them — the musicians — than it is to turn around and pick up my guitar and sing a song for 10,000 people. … If you have a chance to look at this music and sort of pull it apart, and now I can go to a concert and really, really enjoy what I’m listening to. So in that sense, that’s one of the real values of having been a part of this experience. It’s opened me up. You’re never too old to learn.