The following is a collection of Ormandian witticisms collected by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Who is sitting in that empty chair?
  • Congratulations to each and every one of you for the concert last night in New York and vice versa.
  • I'm conducting slowly because I don't know the tempo.
  • I conduct faster so you can see my beat.
  • I cannot give it to you, so try to watch me.
  • I was trying to help you, so I was beating wrong.
  • I am thinking it right but beating it wrong.
  • I can conduct better than I count.
  • I guess you thought I was conducting, but I wasn't.
  • I purposely didn't do anything, and you were all behind.
  • Even when you are not playing you are holding me back.
  • Don't ever follow me, because I am difficult.
  • It is not as difficult as I thought it was, but it is harder than it is.
  • The notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.
  • I wrote it the right way, so it was copied the wrong way right. I mean the right way wrong.
  • At every concert I've sensed a certain insecurity about the tempo.
    It's clearly marked 80 . . . uh, 69.
  • Watch me closely. Only one can spoil it.
  • Someone came in too sooner.
  • Start beforty-two.
  • Start three bars before something.
  • Start at B. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.
  • Did you play? It sounded very good.
  • Intonation is important, especially when it's cold.
  • Beauty is less important than quality.
  • If you don't have it in your part, leave it out, because there's enough missing already.
  • Percussion a little louder.
    ("We don't have anything.")
    That's right. Play it louder.
  • More basses, because you are so far away.
  • I need one more bass less.
  • There are no woodwinds at number 6.
    ("We're at number 15.")
    I know. That is why.
  • (To a tubist:) Long note? Yes. Make it seem short.
  • Brass, stay down all summer.
  • Don't play louder, just give more.
  • Accelerando means in tempo. Don't rush.
  • I don't want to repeat this a hundred times. When you see crescendo, it means p.(pianissimo)
  • It's difficult to remember when you haven't played it before.
  • We can't hear the balance because the soloist is still on the airplane.
  • Please follow me because I have to follow him, and he isn't here.
  • Without him here, it is impossible to know how fast he will play it, approximately.
  • With us tonight is William Warfield, who is with us tonight.
  • He is a wonderful man, and so is his wife.
  • Bizet was a very young man when he wrote this symphony, so play it soft.
  • Gustav Mahler wrote it as the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. I mean the fourth movement of his First Symphony. We play it third.
  • The trumpet solo will be played by our solo trumpet player. It's named Blumine, which has something to do with flowers.
  • (On the death of David Oistrakh:) I told him he'd have a heart attack a year ago, but unfortunately he lived a year longer
  • .
  • Serkin was so sick he almost died for three days.
  • (On William Kapell's death:) Death is a terrible thing. I don't believe in it myself.
  • This is a very democratic organization, so let's take a vote. All those who disagree with me, raise their hands.
  • It's all very well to have principles, but when it comes to money, you have to be flexible.
  • Thank you for your cooperation, and vice versa.
  • I mean what I meant.
  • I never say what I mean, but I always manage to say something similar.
  • I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to.
  • Relax, don't be nervous. My God, it's the Philadelphia Orchestra.

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