Poetry Drawer: Nikisch: Boskovsky: Richter: Mäkelä by Neil Fulwood 

Neil writes: Each poem in the sequence seeks to distil the essence of one of the great maestri, either by capturing their personality or focusing on a formative moment in their life or career.


The father, they will call him,
of modern conducting:

the man who cut the guy ropes
on the past, detaching the art

from periwigged tradition,
staffs beaten on hard floors.

The man who set the blueprint
for a century and a half

of maestri – economy of gesture,
communication as a non-verbal act,

the score as holy writ, understood
on the deepest, most intimate level.


Intended or not, there’s a hint
of the vaguely pejorative:
waltzmeister instead of Maestro;
the chocolate box evocation
of old Vienna on the album covers.

It’s too easy, the cloyed recoil
from the Musikverein’s opulence.

Listen: done-to-death repertoire
is brought back to life, agile
and joyous as it was ever meant to be

with a seriousness of purpose,
a depth, that would befit Bruckner.


Maestro, choirmaster, organist,
harpsichord virtuoso; workaholic.

Driven; relentless; no quarter
asked of himself or given.

Workloads shouldered in an agony
of against-the-clock momentum.

“My time is now” – raison d’être
as epitaph in waiting. Self-discipline

as an act of self-destruction.


In interview, he is charm
itself; enthusiastic
to the point of boyish:

the transformation comes
as he takes the stage,

metaphysical as it is palpable –

a rising, a deepening;
something to do with stature,
with aura. Something to do

with an almost impossible synergy.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has three collections out with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled, with a fourth scheduled for publication next year.

Leave a Reply