A Conversation with Bruce Duffie
When I first met Christian Lindberg - way back in 1992 - he was just the foremost trombonist
touring the world. His career was going at a great pace, and now,
in 2008, he has increased his fame and artistry, and has added both
"conductor" and "composer" to his impressive list of
achievements. In 2002 he was back in Chicago to perform the Berio
SOLO with the Chicago
Symphony, and in 2006, Charlie Vernon, the bass-trombonist of the CSO
was giving the world premiere of Chick'aBone,
which Lindberg had written for for him. Charlie had previously
premiered a work by Ellen Taffe Zwilich in casual garb, but this time
he came out in a white suit and hat which elicited ooooos and ahhhhhs
from the audience. The performance of the music garnered an
ovation which the composer then shared with the performer. At
that point, we were treated to the two of them playing together the
Henry Mancini theme music from the TV series Peter Gunn. The photo below
captures that very special moment.
Being a progressive person who thrives on the cutting-edge, his website has all the latest
details of his adventures and keeps the world up to date on his
career. With that in mind, it's fascinating to look back and see
where he was at the earliest stage of his international success.
This interview shows him then and we note that most of his ideas were -
and still are - right on target . . . . .
Bruce Duffie: You're on a tour
of the U.S. How long are you here in Chicago?
Christian Lindberg: Two
days, I think. Then I go down to Texas and Oklahoma for two
solo recitals and on to Oregon for four concerto appearances with the
BD: What concerto are you
CL: That is the U.S.
premiere of a piece by Swedish composer Jan
Sandström (b. 1954) called The
Motorbike Concerto. [A
on a Motorbike, for trombone and orchestra (1989)]
BD: The Motorbike?
BD: [Buzzing lips and
humming to produce a very convincing imitation of a high-powered
motorcycle revving up]
CL: Yeah, yeah.
It's a 30-minute-long piece about a journey around the world.
BD: Oh! Oh, I
see. And you make the sounds of the motorbike?
[Chuckles] It's involved in the whole piece. I'm dressed up
as a motorbike driver! [Laughs]
BD: Oh, with a leather
jacket and everything?
BD: Well, let's come back
to that a bit later in our chat. First, how do you divide your
career between solo recitals and concerto appearances?
CL: This year I do 94
appearances altogether, and I would say maybe 60 of them are with
orchestra. And then I do chamber music work with a pianist,
Roland Pöntinen. We do about ten or so concerts a year, and
then the rest are complete solo, unaccompanied solo recitals.
BD: A full evening of
CL: Yeah! [Chuckles]
BD: I would think that
would be taxing both for you and for the audience.
CL: Yeah, well, the thing
is it's not unaccompanied, actually; it's with tape. Some new
pieces with tape, and there are a lot of pieces which have theatrical
elements in them, so it's actually quite exciting. It works quite
well, I think.
BD: Is it received well?
CL: Yeah! Very
well. Very well, I think.
BD: Good. Now
you've decided to be a solo touring trombone player. Are you
unique in this, so far?
CL: I think so, yeah.
BD: Even Stuart Dempster
[(b. 1936)] doesn't do that full-time.
CL: No, no.
BD: Why did you decide to
embark on all of this?
CL: I decided quite early,
actually. I was 19 when I started in a symphony orchestra.
I was in the opera orchestra and I was a little frustrated, actually,
so after a year I decided to quit and go for a solo career. For
five years I did no extra jobs, no gigs at all. I just studied
BD: Literature or
CL: Literature and
technique, art, all that you have to do to be able to be a concert
artist, to be something for an audience to listen to. We can't
just play, of course. So that's what I did for five years.
Then from age 25, I decided I'm gonna live on this. I had two or
three pretty bad years, [laughs] and then I had about three or four not
bad but not good, either years. And now the last three, four
years are very, very good.
BD: You've established
CL: Yeah! Yes, it
works very well now.
BD: What kind of response
did you get when you went to agents and said, "I want to be a touring
CL: [Bursts out
laughing] Well, I had a Swedish agent in the beginning and they
were trying to get me an agent in London. We wanted them to come
and listen to my recital debut in London, and they answered that before
they would go to a trombone recital they would have to be heavily
drunk. So there was a lot of resistance in the beginning.
BD: So how did you break
CL: With determination,
quality and humor, I think.
BD: You could break it
down for agents. How do you break it down now for audiences?
CL: For audiences it's
not very difficult, actually. I think the trombone is the
instrument of our century. [Earnestly] The audience needs
something new. The way classical music is shown to the audience
is in a 19th century format, which is out of date, I think. It
has to come with something new. I think that's the reason why the
pop music is so extremely much bigger than the classical music.
Classical music is not more than eight percent of the whole music
business. I think something new really has to happen, and I see
that now because there's a big response in what I do.
BD: Are your concerts
sold out, then?
hesitation] Yeah! Yeah, in most the whole world! I
did my debut in Japan quite recently, and it was sold out a month
BD: You seem to have done
mostly new repertoire rather than transcriptions of others' music.
CL: I want to do old and
new. But I don't want to do transcriptions in a way I don't want
to. I don't want to be put into a certain... what do you say... ?
[Laughter] Thank you for that.
BD: The Germans call it a
CL: Yeah, yeah, Fach. I want to be serious,
and I don't want to do too much Flight
of the Bumblebee and things like that. I do it, because I
think it's fun to do it, but as an encore. My goal is, first, to
put all the solo music of the trombone on record as a document to show
that there is a repertoire, because people don't think there is a
repertoire, and there is. I play classical pieces with orchestra,
such as the Michael Haydn Concerto
in D major for alto trombone (1764) but then my main goal, I
must say, is the contemporary music. Now Xenakis has written me a
concerto which I will premiere next year. [See my Interview with Iannis
Xenakis.] Takemitsu is writing me
one, and there is a young Swedish composer who is making a concerto for
me and the whole process will be filmed by a German film team on 16
millimeter high definition TV.
BD: And made into a
CL: Yeah! Into a
BD: Are these composers
who come to you and say, "I'd like to write a piece for you," or do you
go to the composers and say, "Please write for me"?
CL: It depends who it is.
[Laughs] Xenakis was a hassle. A big hassle.
BD: You mean he didn't
want to write for you?
CL: Ohhh, no, he didn't
want at all to write something for the trombone. In 1984 I
approached him and he had no interest whatsoever to write
something. He had so many other things. He had to write a
piano concerto for the New York Philharmonic, he had to write a piece
for the Berlin Philharmonic, he had to write this, he had to write
that, he had, maybe, 50 commissions by big orchestras - a violin
concerto or piano concerto or things like that
BD: And you were just
heaping a trombone concerto on him.
CL: Yeah! And he
couldn't really understand why. But there was another trombonist,
Benny Sluchin [Boulez's trombonist in the Ensemble intercontemporain],
who had approached him for five or six years about a solo piece, and
when I came he said, "Well, I might write that solo piece now. I
might do that."
BD: Because he now had
two players interested in it?
CL: Yeah! Then I
recorded it and sent the record to him, and that was when he changed
his mind. That was really a big moment for me when I got the
letter he's saying, "I will write a trombone concerto. I could
have it ready in '92." That was in 1989.
BD: That's not too bad a
BD: Do you have the part?
BD: How long will it take
you to learn it and do it justice?
CL: I got the part in
good time, which I was very happy for. I got it last summer and I
will do the premiere in March of '93. So I have a lot of
time. But it's incredibly difficult and I work on it every day.
CL: Yeah. I work on
it every day.
BD: Are there any things
in the score that make you call him up and say, "What do you mean by
this little squiggle?"
CL: No. I don't
think so. I don't think he would tell, anyway. [Both
chuckle] He's a very interesting personality, too. He's
very straight and that's what I like with him, no compromises
whatsoever. When he wrote the piece he said to me, "Here is the
score; there's no effects in it, nothing like that. You might not
like it, but I wanted to write it like that because I wanted it to last
more than ten years. I think effects get very fast out of
fashion. If you don't like it, don't play it. If you like
it, play it." That's what he said.
BD: So he was willing for
you perhaps not to like it and let it sit on the shelf, then
BD: I can't imagine that
you would've not liked it, though.
CL: [Without hesitation,
holding the word out in a low voice signifying the impossibility of
such a premise] No. No way, no way. [Both laugh]
BD: Is there anything
that someone could write, within the compass of the range of the
trombone, that you could not play?
CL: Of course.
BD: Obviously someone
could put pedal notes or top notes that you can't get to, but within
the limits of the trombone, is there anything that is not
accomplishable by your technique?
CL: Of course there are
some things. You never know. What Xenakis has done now is
to write something that is out of the register. When I saw it, I
said, "Now this is really very difficult, it's almost impossible."
He has about 25 high Fs and G-flats which are the top
register. You can have one or two and then normally your lip
BD: Take your mouthpiece
off and put a trumpet mouthpiece on. [Laughs]
CL: Something like
that. And I said to him, "This is so difficult." And then
he said, "But it sounded so good on the record. The F and the
G-flat sounded so easy there." Well, that was once or
BD: So he exploited it.
CL: Yeah. But for
me it's a big challenge. We made an arrangement: I will try
and be able to play it in September or October. I will see if
it's possible or not. If it's not possible he's gonna change it,
but I want to give it a try and I think I can make it now.
BD: If the whole concerto
is all right except for a half-dozen tiny notes, will he change those
notes for you, or will he change the whole shape of the piece?
CL: No, no, only these
things. Only these things, of course. The whole piece is a
huge piece, and it's already composed and everything. [Chuckles]
BD: So when you get a
piece that looks impossible, then you try to make it possible!
Yeah. That's a big challenge and I like that very much.
I've started a special training program which is building muscle.
I do one hour every morning now. [Chuckles]
BD: It sounds like
they're asking you to run a three-minute mile!
CL: It's like that, it's
something like that. But the good thing with it is that now,
having worked on this, all the other pieces become so easy! The
ones that I've struggled with in the top register feel like middle
register. So it has some good things. [Chuckles]
BD: You don't lose the
bottom, the pedals, do you?
CL: No, no. You
have to make sure that you keep them. Keep working on them,
that's very important.
BD: If you were in an
orchestra, playing first trombone, you wouldn't ever (or very rarely)
have to use the pedal register; and if you were playing third trombone
you wouldn't have to get up into the top. But as a soloist you
have to encompass the whole range.
CL: Yeah. Yeah, I
BD: Do you ever wish you
could just take half of it and concentrate on that?
CL: [Wistfully] No,
I don't think so. I think once you reach something it tends to
stay there if you just keep it alive.
BD: But I assume you have
to practice it every day to keep the chops in shape.
CL: Oh, of course, of
course. I practice four to five hours every day. I do it
when I'm on the road, too. So that's part of my life, but I like
it. I like practicing.
BD: You can never take a
day away from it?
CL: Not really, no.
If I take two weeks off from trombone playing, that means six weeks
without playing concerts, because it takes a month to get up to shape
again. I did it last summer. I took six weeks off and took
three weeks without playing, but I didn't like it.
[Chuckles] I missed my trombone.
BD: Do you always use the
same instrument, or do you use different size instruments when called
CL: Of course I play the
alto, tenor, and alto sackbut, tenor sackbut, but I think it's very
important to get used to one instrument, to be one with it.
BD: Has it got a trigger or two?
CL: One trigger, yeah.
BD: What about
mutes? Do you find yourself using a lot of mutes, and are new
mutes being designed for you?
CL: No! There might
be in the future but I, personally, don't like mutes. I think
that the trombone itself can make different sounds by using different
kinds of vibratos, different kinds of techniques. I think it's
better to use the trombone itself than to put a mute in.
BD: So you'd rather do it
in the lips.
CL: Yes! I think
so. You rarely use a mute on a violin but the rest you do with
different bowings and things. I think we have to create a
tradition to do that with brass instruments, too, to make it more alive.
BD: I would think that a
bunch of mutes, though, would give you more colors on your palette.
CL: [Thinks for a
moment] Yeah, but you have to change them, [chuckles and goes
through the motions, in an exaggeratedly cumbersome manner, of changing
mutes] in and out. Of course, for the pieces that need it,
I use it. In the Xenakis there is a straight mute, but personally
I think I think the trombone is so rich in itself, so I rather stay
with just that.
BD: Do you ever play a
CL: [Quietly, but a bit
quizzically, as if surprised to be asked such a question]
No. I don't.
BD: You have no interest
CL: [Emphatically and
without hesitation] No. [Laughter] Ahhhhhhhhh, I
think it's something that doesn't work. It takes away the whole
uniqueness of the trombone, the sound created with a tube that goes
like this. [Makes a gesture showing the curved shape of a
trombone's slide] You can move the slide and play blue
notes. Also you can do all sorts of things like that.
BD: Do some composers
demand different intonations, different tunings?
CL: Yes, of course!
Of course. It's expressionism. Yeah, Xenakis, of
course. There's a lot of quarter-tones in the pieces that I
do. The Sandström concerto, of course, asks to play the
glissando and the motorbike sound.
BD: Do you ever have to
speak into the trombone?
CL: Yeah! [Chuckles]
BD: Is that as weird as
it sounds on a couple of records I've heard?
CL: [Explodes in
laughter] It is weird, yeah. Yeah.
BD: There's a piece I'm
thinking of called General Speech...
[Composed in 1969 by Robert Erickson (1917-1997), commissioned by
Stuart Dempster. See my Interview with Robert
CL: Oh, yeah. It's
a fantastic piece which Stuart Dempster does. Fantastic,
yeah. He does it very well. It's a great piece.
BD: That's a very
theatrical kind of piece.
CL: It is, yeah, and I
think he started an era which is very important for the trombone.
Dempster did something very important for the instrument. He got
Berio to write Sequenza, for
instance, [Sequenza V
for trombone (1965)] which he should've had more recognition than
he had. I think that was a very important step when the Berio Sequenza came. [See my Interview with Luciano
BD: When you play in
different halls, do you adjust your tone or your technique at all if
it's a small hall or a large hall?
CL: Yeah. Very
much, I think. But you do it naturally. You have to get
used to the hall and you have to play differently. You do it
almost automatically, but you also have to get used to it and think
while you do it. If you have a small hall it's like double the
amount of work you have to put into it. You have to do all the
reverbs yourself, and at the end you have to tail off the notes.
And in a big hall with a big acoustic, you have to be very, very
careful with a staccato so it doesn't become ugly because it sounds
like a bang against the wall. So it's quite intricate because the
hall, the room, is very important to the sound.
BD: And are you conscious
of the audience when they're sitting there?
CL: Oh, yes. Of
course, definitely. Definitely. It's very important.
The contact with the audience is something that's very exciting
especially in a piece like the Cage Solo
for Sliding Trombone [(1957-58), a segment of Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra.
See my Interview with
It's very difficult to put it on a record, actually. I put that
on a record and I didn't know how to approach it because there are a
certain amount of pauses in there which are spaced in the music.
But it's your own choice, how long these pauses should be. In the
concert version I do a certain length. Then when I came to
record, I thought, "Well, what should I do now? Should I do it
less when you don't have the visual effect? Or, should you do the
same, or what?" But I decided to go the opposite way, to make the
silence even more important. So I did a very long version of it
which pauses for a moment. It's very controversial, I think.
BD: Probably some people
would think their CD player has died.
CL: Ah, yeah, of
course! Of course. My colleague, Roland Pöntinen,
the piano player, used to put it on when people came to his home
as guests because there is sound and then it's complete silence, and
then suddenly it's sound. They don't realize it's a record
on. They just hear those noises suddenly coming out and then they
BD: They think someone's
practicing next door?
CL: No, they think they
heard something wrong. [Chuckles] Yeah. It's very
exciting. He's done it a couple of times and it's really
BD: We'll see how it
comes across on the radio. [Chuckles]
CL: Yeah! It will
be exciting to hear the response! [Bursts out laughing]
BD: Now in all of this
you're making new friends for the trombone and you're also making new
friends for new music.
CL: Yeah, I hope so, yes.
BD: Is this is one of
CL: Oh, of course, of
course! I think the new music is very important. And the
performances of new music are so important - the way you do it and the
work you have to put into it. A lot of people who do contemporary
music put in far too little. They do premieres and that's
that. If you want to make a career as a contemporary musician,
the way most people do it is by doing world premiere after world
premiere after world premiere. They're doing all they can get...
BD: And then dropping
CL: Well, dropping them
or not, but they do so many world premieres they don't learn the pieces
by memory, which I think is one of the most important things to
do. I learn everything by memory. Even if it's a new
piece. Even if it's complicated. I think a piece of music
deserves that. And if you don't do that, you can't get through
enough, I think. If you don't work on it for a long time, you
can't get through to the audience, and the audience will sit there and
it will have the opposite effect from what's desired. That's why
contemporary music concerts are so badly attended, I think.
BD: So where's music
going these days?
CL: That's very difficult
to see. Very. I think rock music has quite an important
role, actually. More than we thought in the '60s. People
like Prince, for instance, and also the jazz musician Miles Davis, and
Coltrane, of course, have a big influence on the music. The
serious composers, like Xenakis, Stockhausen, Cage, Berio, the new
ones, will be a mixture of those together, I think. The young
composers now, with the computers and everything, have enormous
possibilities. They can hear the pieces, how they sound, with the
computers. So many possibilities. I think there's gonna be
a lot of more influence and involvement from African music, from all
sorts of music. That's where the music goes now.
BD: It seems like it's
Everything, everything. And it's already done that. A lot
of composers, like Schnittke for instance, are mixing everything and
they call it postmodernism. That is something that doesn't work
yet, but the first person who can get all these together and make one
thing of it, that's the one that's gonna be the 21st century composer,
BD: Do you think they're
going to make something of this, or are they going to find the part of
it they want to use and then use that part?
CL: No, I think someone
is going to produce the mixture of everything in a certain essence, in
a certain form. But this form will be very stable, like
Stravinsky did in the 20th century. He is, in my opinion, THE
20th century composer. Everyone says that nowadays, [both
chuckle] but there's no comparison. He is the one, much more than
Berg, Schoenberg, or...
CL: ...Webern. Much
more than those people. Those people are one part of it, but
Stravinsky made everything together in a shape that works as art.
And the person who does that for the 21st century will be the one, I
BD: Do you think that
Stravinsky will last into the 21st century?
CL: Of course. No
doubt about it. His popularity will grow. He will be the
Bach, the Mozart, the Brahms of our century, I think.
BD: I know this is an
unfair question, but do you see anyone emerging, yet, for the 21st
CL: I don't know,
actually. I think the young Swede, Jan Sanström, who wrote
this Motorbike Concerto, is
getting there with this piece. It's a piece that has a mixture of
everything. It's contemporary music, and it's a piece that has a
big effect on the audience and gets a big response, at least in
Europe. We will see what happens at the U.S. premiere in
Oregon. So he's getting there, but I don't know; it's very
difficult to say.
BD: When you play a
concerto, you are often the soloist on a mixed program. Is that
better, or just different, from an all-contemporary program?
CL: It's much better, I
think. That's the way to do it, I think, so I'm very happy in
Oregon they have the Motorbike
Concerto and the Alpine
Symphony of Strauss that also includes sound effects from a wind
machine and thunder machine. When I did the premiere with with
Esa-Pekka Salonen, the program also had Mahler 7. So it's the best way to
get it across to the audience.
BD: The audience is not a
contemporary-music audience, they are really there for the other piece,
and you are giving them something new.
CL: Yeah! They're
there to listen to music, they're not just there to be a contemporary
freak. [Both chuckle]
BD: You like winning over
the unsuspecting people, then.
CL: Yeah! I think
so. I think music is music. I don't want to put it into a Fach, as you say. Music is
the same in every century. They say the same thing, but they find
the language of the century. They had to use the language of the
century. That's very important. But they say the same
thing, I think.
BD: Well, let me pursue
this just a little bit further: what is the purpose of music?
CL: [Quietly, as if
speaking to himself] What is the purpose of music? [In a
normal tone of voice] It's communication, I think. That's
what it is. And communication is the base for human beings.
A human being can't be without communication, and this is a language to
communicate with. You have the normal speaking language where you
can reach certain emotional areas within another person, but with music
you can reach other areas. This is another level of
communication, I think, and that's what it is - communication.
BD: Is contemporary
music, then, a new language or an expansion of the existing one?
CL: [Thinks for a
moment] I don't know. The language changes. It takes
something from before and mixes the new it into it. [Pauses for a
moment] You're a representative of your period, I think, as human
being. It's a difficult question. I read a poem quite
recently by a great Russian poet named Osip Mandelstam, and he says
that a person is a representative of his time, which means that that is
what you are. You go around here as a representative of your
time, so what you say and what you do will later be related to our time.
BD: You, of course, are
making recordings which, presumably, will transcend your time -
assuming that there are people around to listen to recordings 100, 200,
300 years from now. Is that a good feeling, or does that make you
a little more nervous about what you lay down on the various tracks?
CL: Of course, it makes
me very nervous. Every record is, in a way, like a birth.
It's really difficult. It's tough. You always go in there
with your maximum and then you always come out a little bit
disappointed. But that's life; that's what is it like.
BD: Do you ever find
you're competing against your record when you go back into the concert
hall with the same piece?
CL: It could be.
Could be, but not really. A concert version is more fun to do and
I take much more risks when I do that. On a concert performance,
I allow myself to split notes. I want to do that because it's
part of it. On a record you don't do that. You mix it in a
certain way or you edit it in a certain way so those things go
away. I don't like missed notes. I try to avoid it, but if
it happens... On the other hand, when I go onstage, always when I
go onstage, I think, "Maybe tonight I will do a performance without the
mistakes." If I go in with that thought, it always happens,
probably in the first or the second or third bar... something.
[Chuckles] Probably most of those things are not noticeable for
an audience. It's just for some people who know the piece and
know about it, or have heard it many times.
BD: Do the mistake early
and get them out of the way.
Yeah! [Laughter] But then you just think, "I failed this
time, too, so it's better to just go."
BD: Is there a
possibility, is there even a way of doing a perfect performance?
CL: [Without hesitation,
in a low, gravelly voice signifying the impossibility of such a
thing] No. No way.
BD: So you always strive
for it, but you'll never get there?
CL: Yeah. You'll
never get there. But every performance has something special, a
certain atmosphere with it. And every performance should be
different. That's what it is about. That's why computer
can't take over.
BD: ...We hope....
CL: They are taking over
some parts of the business. It's a big question, actually, it's
really a big issue. But the actual communication system they
can't take over.
CL: Oh, you don't have to
worry about that. [Chuckles]
BD: When a piece is being
written for you, what advice do you have for the composer?
CL: [Takes a deep
breath] Ahhhhhhh. I have now made a DAT tape with all the
possibilities of the trombone, all the different aspects, and I've put
down a long list of what the trombone can do, with examples. What
I want to do is give this to them and put them in complete freedom.
BD: Do you expect them to
use all of them in any one piece?
CL: No, no. Not at
all. I expect them to write what they want to write. I
don't want a person to write something for me that doesn't know me and
understand my performance, that doesn't understand what I do and what I
stand for. I'm not interested in that. If someone writes
for me I would like them to understand who I am. Otherwise, they
can write a piece, of course, for someone else and I can choose to play
it. But if someone writes something for me to premiere, I want
them to know me.
BD: But if they write it
with you in mind, does that preclude its performance by others?
CL: Oh, I don't think so.
No, of course they can. All people can play it if they
BD: Then let me turn the
question around. Do you enjoy playing pieces that have been
tailored for others?
CL: Yes! I think
that's okay. I think that's okay. I enjoy that. The
thing is, even if someone writes something for me and it's written with
me in mind, when another person takes it over and does it, it becomes
something really exciting because it changes a lot of things and puts
things in a different way. I don't want other people to do it
badly. I definitely don't want that. I get very irritated
when I hear people play pieces that I know what the composer intended
and they don't know it. I get very angry then. But if
someone does it well and does it a completely different way from me,
I'd think that's a big success.
BD: What advice do you
have for other trombone players coming along?
CL: I have advice for the
young players to really go for it because the time has come for the
BD: Do you see the time
when there will be many touring virtuoso trombone players?
definitely. There are jobs. At this point I actually have
to turn down half of my offers. So that means there would be a
place for another one.
BD: Unless they're
wanting Lindberg, and not somebody else.
CL: Yes, but certainly
there will be other players that do the same thing as I done. I
hope so, definitely, that when they are twenty-three or so, they decide
to go for a solo career. I know already some people that I have
on my master class that I really have hope for.
BD: So you are doing some
CL: I do a very small
amount of teaching. I have a master class the north of Sweden for
one week where I pick eight students. And I have one in Germany
where I pick eight students. And that's it. Then I do, of
course, a couple of master classes, not very many. I do them in
connection with university concerts in America because it's part of the
way the universities want it. And I think that's a good way to do
it. But otherwise, I try to avoid it because it takes too much
BD: You have to be
selfish with your time and your technique.
CL: Yeah. Otherwise
I'm no use to anyone. [Both chuckle]
BD: Is playing the
CL: [Thinks for a
moment] Uhhh, is it fun? Yes, I think so. [Pauses for
a moment, then speaks the word a bit tentatively, as if unsure of its
appropriateness] Fun. Hmmm... No, it's a
hassle. [Bursts out laughing] I think it's like a drug in a
BD: You're addicted to it?
CL: Yeah, I'm addicted to
it. Yeah, definitely. You go there and have a full day of
playing or having done a full day of recording, or having done a full
recital and after that you feel sort of hyped up. You really feel
that you've got something from it.
BD: And then it takes you
a while to come down?
Yeah. That's right. But you get used to that after a
while. It's not as bad as in the beginning when every concert was
big and afterwards you wanted a reward. But nowadays you can't
get that. You have to immediately think of the next concert when
you end the first. Otherwise you can't live with it.
=== === ===
-- -- -- -- --
=== === === === ===
Christian Lindberg´s achievements for the trombone can
compared with those of Paganini for the violin or Liszt for the piano.
Having premièred over 300 works for the trombone (including more
30 composed by Christian himself), recorded over 70 solo CD:s, and
having an international solo competition created in his name in
Valencia, Spain, Christian Lindberg is today nothing less than a living
At an early stage of his career he joined Yo Yo Ma and Gidon
as the BBC Music Magazine’s soloist of the year. In 2000, together with
Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, he was voted by an international poll
the greatest brass players of the 20th century. He was the first
Swedish instrumentalist ever to be invited to perform as soloist with
the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
And in May 2007 he was artist in residence at the Musikverein in Vienna
– the ‘stronghold’ of traditional classical music. Christian Lindberg
has worked with practically every major orchestra and conductor in the
world today. For a trombonist to achieve all this before turning 50 is,
to say the least, remarkable.
Lindberg took up the trombone at 17 inspired by the jazz
Jack Teagarden. At 18 he gained admission to the Royal College of Music
in Stockholm and after having played for only two years he got a
position as trombonist in the orchestra of the Royal Swedish Opera in
Stockholm. At 20 he left the orchestra, and has since built up a unique
and impressive career as the first trombone soloist in history, as well
as embarking on two new enormously successful careers as conductor and
composer. At the same time, Christian and his wife have raised a family
of four children, now grown up youngsters with their own careers.
Today Lindberg´s schedule is fully booked for years
schedule combines being chief conductor of the Nordic Chamber Orchestra
and the Swedish Wind Ensemble with guest conducting of orchestras such
as the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra of Milan,
working on composition commissions from ensembles such as the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Swedish
Radio Choir; and continuing his solo appearances with orchestras such
as the London Philharmonic, the NDR Orchestra in Germany and Tokyo’s
Yomiuri Orchestra. Parallel with all these activities, Christian
Lindberg makes sure he can devote some valuable leisure time to his
family of four youngsters and his wife at their country residence on a
peninsula of the beautiful Stockholm Archipelago.
© 1992 Bruce Duffie
This interview was recorded in Chicago on April 2,
1992. Portions were used (along with recordings) on WNIB in 1992,
and 1998. This transcription was made and posted on this
website in 2008.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been
transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago
from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of
2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and
journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM,
as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.
You are invited to visit his website
for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of
other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also
to call your attention to the photos and information about his
grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a
century ago. You may also send him E-Mail
with comments, questions and suggestions.