Music can be magical, and it also can be pretty mysterious.
Stop in at Kleinhans Music Hall, and questions surround you. How many people does the place seat? That big Steinway grand in the middle of the concert hall -- how much does that thing weigh? And look at all those musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Who can boast the longest career?
It's natural to be curious about things like this.
The greatest musicians have been fond of numbers and trivia. Mozart came up with puzzles and published them in his hometown paper. When Beethoven wanted a cup of coffee, he counted out exactly 40 beans.
Modern composers have had all kinds of adventures mixing and matching music and numbers. Ever heard of John Cage's "4'33"? It means four minutes, 33 seconds. That's how long Cage called for the pianist to sit on the piano bench, doing virtually nothing.
Let's continue this rich tradition and have some fun with trivia about our hometown orchestra:
Number of musicians in the BPO in 1946: 82
Number of musicians in the BPO now: 73
Number of conductors the BPO has had: 9 (Franco Autori, William Steinberg, Joseph Krips, Lukas Foss, Michael Tilson Thomas, Julius Rudel, Semyon Bychkov, Maximiano Valdes and JoAnn Falletta)
BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta's longest-tenured predecessor: Josef Krips, 9 years, 1954-63
Tenure so far of JoAnn Falletta: 8 years (She began her tenure in fall 1999)
Number of rehearsals Josef Krips, in his farewell letter of May 1, 1963, estimated to have had with the BPO: 600
Number of people who set up chairs before a concert: 2
Entries in "JoAnn's Blog," which you can click on at www.bpo.org: 0
Number of times JoAnn Falletta has called in sick: 0
Number of batons Falletta owns: 10 ("But I tend to use the same one over and over.")
Number of frequent flier miles Falletta racked up last year: "About 130,000."
Rehearsals required for Mahler's Fifth Symphony: Five, adding up to 12 1/2 hours
Longest piece without a pause that Falletta and the BPO have performed: Mahler's Third Symphony, 90 minutes long
Oldest work Falletta has performed with the BPO: Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons"
Newest work: Buffalo composer Persis Vehar's clarinet concerto, to be performed April 28 and 29 featuring BPO clarinetist John Fullam
Number of BPO musicians from Western New York: 6
Number born in Taiwan: 2
Number born in China: 1
Number born in Russia: 3
In Japan: 1
In Poland: 1
In Cuba: 1
In Morocco: 1 (bass trombonist Stefan Sanders, who has lived in this country since he was 12)
Number of Native Americans in the BPO: 1 (Don Harry, tuba, a member of the Oklahoma Nation)
Number of BPO musicians who are women: 29
Number who are married: 44
Number who are married to another BPO musician: 4 (2 couples)
Weight of a Model D Steinway concert grand: 990 pounds
Number of predecessors Suzanne Thomas had as BPO harpist: 6
Number of those predecessors who were men: 0
BPO musician with the most seniority: Clementina Fleshler, violinist, 48 years
(runners-up, bassist William Burns, with 44 years, and cellist Monte Hoffman, 43 years)
Gift amount that qualifies a BPO patron to "sponsor" a BPO musician for a season: $5,000
Number of recordings in BPO history: 28
First recording, 1947: Shostakovich, Symphony No. 7, with Steinberg
Most celebrated recording: "Gershwin on Broadway," used by Woody Allen as the soundtrack to "Manhattan"
Age of Michael Tilson Thomas, the youngest-appointed music director, at the time he was appointed: 27
Age of Julius Rudel, the oldest: 58
Length of the concert then-Music Director Lukas Foss gave with the Grateful Dead at Kleinhans in March 1970: Four hours
Symphony most popular with the BPO over the years: Beethoven's Fifth, featured on 24 programs
Opera most popular with the BPO over the years: "Die Meistersinger," by Richard Wagner, featured on 44 programs
Next-most popular opera with the BPO over the years: "The Marriage of Figaro," by Mozart, featured on 20 programs
Number of times the BPO toured with Arthur Fiedler under the name of the Boston Pops: 1
>Falletta's forerunners and their factoids
BPO Music Director: 1936 to 1945
Born: 1903, in Naples. (Died in 1990.)
One claim to fame: BPO historian Edward Yadzinski reports that Autori's romance with a young American opera singer was the basis of the 1934 movie "One Night of Love," "which set attendance records, won two Oscars and provided a major boost to Columbia Pictures at a critical time."
Quote: "I opened one of the newspapers and there were four pictures of me on the front page - I was so unshaven I looked like a murderer." - Autori recalling his arrival in Buffalo, in BPO archives
Michael Tilson Thomas
BPO Music Director: 1971 to 1979
Born: Dec. 21, 1944, in Los Angeles
One claim to fame: MTT, as he is now often called, is the grandson of noted Yiddish theater stars Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky. Where is he now? Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony.
Quote: "I found being snowed in during the famous Blizzard of 1977 a wonderful experience. I had Old English Sheepdogs and frolicked in the snow with them." - To The News, in 2001
BPO Music Director: 1945 to 1952 Born in: Aug. 1, 1899, in Cologne, Germany. (Died in 1978.)
One claim to fame: Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Quote: "When Steinberg heard poor playing, it was never, 'How can you do that to me?' - it was 'How can you do that to the music?'" - Remark made by a musician at the inauguration of the Steinberg Society in Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall
BPO Music Director: 1954 to 1963
Born: April 8, 1902, in Vienna, Austria. (Died in 1974.)
One claim to fame: "Josef could draw off almost an entire cigarette with one enormous inhalation, then drink a whole glass of beer in one huge swallow," wrote family friend Carl Vigeland, in a memoir published in The News.
Quote: "It was a kind of musical marriage for 10 years, and as marriages go, there was sunshine, rain and sometimes storms, but most of the time our work was blessed with success." - From farewell letter to BPO in 1963
BPO Music Director: 1963 to 1971
Born: Aug. 15, 1922 in Berlin, Germany
One claim to fame: Didn't mind when people walked out of his avant-garde concerts. BPO first violinist Marylouise Nanna, recalling Foss' time here, told The News: "He loved music. He always made it fun and a joy."
Where is he now? In New York City with his wife Cornelia, a painter. Foss is a professor of music at Boston University.
Quote: "I was so arrogant when I was young. I was never intimidated by anybody." - To The News, in 2003
BPO Music Director: 1979 to 1985
Born: March 6, 1921, in Vienna, Austria
One claim to fame: Famous for opera, Rudel is credited with discovering Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo.
Where is he now? In New York City, still active in opera.
Quote: "My grounding is very European, and then when I came here, I fell in love with American way of music making - the openness and the quite well-preparedness." - To The News, in 2002.
BPO Music Director: 1985 to 1989
Born: Nov. 30, 1952 in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), Russia
One claim to fame: "Everything he did was intense." - BPO first violinist Clementina Fleshler, to The News in 2002, remembering Bychkov's tenure here.
Where is he now? In Europe, married to pianist Marielle Labecque, conducting opera and leading the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne
Quote: "Buffalo was a hotbed of new music. Can I say that word, hotbed? Hotbed." - To The News, giggling, in 2002
BPO Music Director: 1989 to 1998
Born: 1950, in Chile
One claim to fame: Red wine and expensive cars. "It is a sickness in my life. Suddenly I begin asking myself why I choose old things, old Mercedes, where the engines are destroyed at the end. I go very fast," he told The News in 1990.
Where is he now? Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain and Chief Conductor at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile.
Quote: "Don't go to my concerts just to see me conduct. Close the eyes and listen to the music because I am conducting an orchestra. I am not giving spectacle." - To The News, in 1990
- Mary Kunz Goldman