Emanuel Ax

Gustavo Dudamel celebrates his 36th birthday with some Schoenberg

Gustavo Dudamel celebrates his 36th birthday with some Schoenberg

Instruct Gustavo Dudamel not to conduct; he conducts.

Thursday was the Los Angeles Philharmonic music and artistic director’s 36th birthday. As Dudamel walked off the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage before taking his final bow at the end of his program of works by Schoenberg and Mozart, players in the orchestra surreptitiously placed sheet music on their stands and turned them around so nothing would catch the conductor’s eye.

Pianist Emanuel Ax, wearing a black sweater and to make him look (not very convincingly) like a stagehand, wheeled out a birthday cake in the shape of Frank Gehry’s concert hall. As the orchestra was about to strike up “Happy Birthday,” with...

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