Teodor Currentzis

Teodor Currentzis
interview: Lina Stefanou / photo: Yannis Bournias

Albert Camus had said that “Freedom is not a reward or a decoration … it’s hard graft and a long-distance run, all alone, very exhausting”. Do you agree?

Freedom is an ideal, small morsels of which we have in our daily lives. But it is the carrot you dangle before the horse, and as the horse runs to catch the carrot it moves the cart.

You changed many countries and cities to earn that carrot.
But you cannot have absolute freedom. Once you realise this, you become freer. And first of all I mean one’s personal freedom which is not dependent upon other areas, upon religion or the State. The problem is that man is like the camel who laughs at the other camels’ humps because he has never seen his own. We put the blame on the world we live in, the awful politicians that rule us, etc. We don’t realise that it is we who have built all this; that the only possible change in the world, and the only way to liberation, is when you start your own personal revolution; when you activate that second vision and you start changing; when you establish the other logic. That’s when you change, the others around you change and so the whole world gradually changes.
Do you consider it easy?
It’s very hard; but this is the reason for our existence. Evolution.
Bataille had said “I communicate only outside of myself, only in letting myself go or throwing myself out. But outside of myself, I don’t exist”. How easy is it to come out of ourselves, and what do we find when we do?
Bataille had thoroughly explored the literature of evil and in particular the great writer Marquis de Sade, and what he says has to do with the moral aspect of death. “Out” means death. And that’s where the fear of death appears. The ancient Greeks said that we fear death because we cannot imagine the existing world without ourselves in it. This “out” is the destruction of the Ego. It’s like that saying, that if you die before you die you will not die when you die. And this relates to the liberation we discussed before. When we are able to love without our own participation, that’s when we attain integrity. That is, you love a world without being yourself in that world. Without having an identity. What does love mean? It’s what Tristan says to Isolde: “Tristan you, I Isolde, no longer Tristan”… Destruction of names, destruction of identity. That’s when you are liberated and the new person is created. Why are two people joined together? To forsake themselves. That’s how perpetuation comes about.
Yet in love few people let themselves go. The fear of losing what you have already is greater.
Yes, because it is a fear of death.
Even you have said that dreaming of someone is more divine than consummating a relationship with them.
That’s true.
It is as if you preclude the possibility of starting a family at some point.
I do want to have a family very much, but not a family like the ones I’ve known. It takes a lot of consciousness and a lot of self-negation to stand fast against the tsunami. To me the family is not a gang of friends, it’s a spiritual work; a great spiritual edifice you need to build. And where others build huts, you need to build a Taj Mahal (laughs).

Teodor Currentzis the famous Greek conductor and composer speaks to Lina Stefanou about music, poetry, love and death. (NOMAS, Moscow, p. 62)