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.