[[ Read Prime ]] Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting Author John Mauceri – Andy-palmer.co.uk

Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting ChapterHow Do You Learn to Be a Conductor The house lights go to half The concertmaster signals to the principal oboist to sound an A natural, from which the orchestra tunes It is their North Star of intonation for the concert, and all the musiciansno matter how they make their sounds or what the individual characteristics and histories of their instruments areagree on this point of departure Then, after a short, or sometimes dramatically long, wait, the maestro enters and bows with the orchestra to general applause and occasional shouts of Bravo Perhaps you might ask yourself how he or she got there Like all stories about the conductors art, there is no single way to the heart of the labyrinth As I said earlier, the maestro can be an instrumentalist who rose from one of the orchestras various sections to a leadership position, like the violinists Bernard Haitink, the long serving principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Alan Gilbert, the music director of the New York PhilharmonicNikolaus Harnoncourt also made the transition, from playing within the cello section of the Vienna Symphony to becoming the leader of the Concentus Musicus Wien, an orchestra that performed music from the classical period, and earlier, on replicas of original instruments of the period Conductors Daniel Barenboim, Georg Solti, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, and Michael Tilson Thomas all began as pianists John Adams leads not just his own music but the music of other composers, much as Mendelssohn, Berlioz, and Wagner did in the past Stravinsky, Copland, Villa Lobos, and Mikls Rzsa mostly focused on their own works in concert and on recordings A few singers, like Dietrich Fischer Dieskau and Plcido Domingo, moved to the podium from the stage, and at least one choreographer, Mark Morris, frequently conducts performances of his own ballets For every one of these seemingly logical progressions, there are the exceptions Leopold Stokowski was a trained organist, for example, and never played in an orchestra or formally studied conducting As a teenager, he watched Hans Richter conduct concerts in London Richter was the man Richard Wagner had chosen to lead theworld premiere of Der Ring des Nibelungen Stokowskis other inspiration was Arthur Nikisch, whose concerts and opera performances the young man attended and about whom Johannes Brahms had said, It is impossible to hear my Fourth Symphony any better For Stokowski, having graduated from Londons Royal College of Music at age sixteen, there simply were no courses in conducting at that time It also does not follow that a great instrumentalist has the interest or the capacity to conduct, even the most brilliant ones Soloists like Jascha Heifetz and Vladimir Horowitz did not pick up the baton and some former members of orchestrasgreat virtuoso playershave attempted conducting careers with mixed success Teaching the art of conducting is as amorphous as defining who will become a conductor Like Stokowski, Arturo Toscanini never studied conducting It was thrust upon him Serving as the assistant chorus master and principal cellist of a traveling Italian opera troupe in , he was pressed by the singers to take over a performance of Aida in Rio de Janeiro after a crisis erupted in the opera house due to factions for and against the Brazilian conductor who was scheduled to lead that night Conducting the opera from memory, his triumph was absolute, and the nineteen year old became, on that night, a conductor Today, every conservatory has a conducting program Indeed, some students can be given a doctorate in it These young people are trained in score reading and stick technique They may take history courses and learn music theory, which will give them tools for analyzing a score They will be given various opportunities to practice As one can imagine, this is the most cumbersome part of the process You can conduct in front of a mirror, imagining music in your mind, but that in no way prepares you for when you actually appear before an orchestra and receive the energies of so many people looking at you expectantly You can conduct along with a recording and probably everyone who loves music has done this , which is fun, but it is the very opposite of conducting in that you are responding to something, rather than engendering it Recordings, unlike real performances, remain the same every time you play them At first, conducting students wave their hands in a class, standing before a piano sometimes two, in order to give the sense of an ensemble Later on in their studies they will stand before the student orchestra directing an excerpt or symphonic movement that the conducting class has studied A young conductor may also be called upon to conduct new compositions by fellow students or an ensemble needed for a degree recital in which the soloist plays a chamber work that requires a conductor In European opera houses, a young aspirant who is a pianist will accompany rehearsals and move up the chain as an assistant chorus master or a junior level kapellmeister In the European house system, the young conductor will at some point be given a performance within the run of productions scheduled for the season He will most likely have no rehearsals for this and or be given a less desirable work from the repertory, like a production of Annie, Holt Deine Pistole , better known as Annie Get Your Gun It will most likely not be Siegfried If all else fails, he will join the administration of the orchestra and sit behind a desk, hoping to find fulfillment in making it possible for others to do what he had hoped would be his lifes work American orchestras generally audition young conductors for positions within their music staff They become assistant conductors, and then associate conductors, and are given responsibility for leading childrens concerts, outreach concerts, pops concerts, and occasionally serious concerts on the classical subscription series After a few years of this, they move on, usually to regional orchestras and if they are noticed and there is belief in their potential, they can move up However, as a colleague pointed out, It is generally a good thing not to be an American To that one can add, or a woman All of these are generalizations, of course, and every conductor you have ever heard of has a different tale to tell, a different journey, and, significantly enough, different weaknesses, which will prove irrelevant to the greatest in our profession while being disqualifying for lesser mortals There are a few common denominators among all conductors, however Every one of us must have an innate capacity and desire to lead We are, after all, sergeants Our devotion to our troops is also commingled with a necessity to achieve agreement and commitment, and that can be done in many ways employing fear, love, respect, and, yes, pragmatism In the so called Golden Age of the Maestro, the conductor was dictatorial and all powerful Well into the middle of the twentieth century there were vestiges of the tyrannical maestro to be found, for example, in the rehearsal tapes of Toscanini and the NBC Symphony The enraged conductor can be heard screaming and apparently throwing over his podium inbecause the playing was not to his liking No No , is followed by Corpo di Dio santissimo Noooooo By the body of most holy God, no The sound of his voice, choked with rage, is terrifying to hear If he were alive today, as great as he was, he would be lucky to be teaching conducting and leading a university orchestra, provided he wasnt fired for inappropriate behavior Until American orchestras were unionized during and just after the Great Depression, a music director could point to a player and demand that he play a certain passage and, if he was found wanting, fire him on the spot There also were no rules to determine the length of a rehearsal When Serge Koussevitzky built a summer home for the Boston SymphonyTanglewoodit was his personal playground, and members of the orchestra never knew when they might be released to go home and have dinner with their families While Gustav Mahler, for example, ran short rehearsals, others could verge on being sadistic in their behavior toward orchestra players It was how they got results and raised the standards we have come to expect from our great conductors In , Toscanini was brought to trial for apparently attacking a member of his orchestra in Turin, Italy, breaking the mans violin bow and striking him in the eye with his baton The charges were dropped because Toscanini was under the exaltation of his genius and therefore not himself A full page and perhaps exaggerated story in the JanuaryWashington Times recounted how a contemporary psychologist, a Professor Pastor, testified that Toscaninis subconscious was acting out, much as a mother would do anything to protect her baby, to excuse the maestros violent response to the violinist playing flat in a rehearsal of Beethovens Ninth Symphony Professor Pastor was doing research for a paper appropriately entitled, Enthusiasm In the first place, Professor Pastor said that he had made a special pathological study of Toscanini, and had found that on great occasions this prince of conductors becomes so possessed by sublime frenzy that his normal personality forsakes him He becomes transfigured by genius, beside, or rather outside of, himself, so that the inhibitory nerves are completely paralyzed There is truth in Professor Pastors conclusion, of course When we conduct we are not ourselves Sometimes it feels as if a low level electrical current were passing through us from the very moment we enter the room to rehearse, and an even higher level of electrical disruption during a performance It can take hours to return to normal, even as one is greeting well wishers and presumably saying things that other people remember, but you do not Toscanini frequently could not sleep after a performance But while the image of the all powerful tyrant still remains part of the mythologyit is something many people want to believeit is absolutely untrue today No one ever saw a photograph of Fritz Reiner smiling In general, if a conductor was smiling in an official photograph, he was a pops conductor The young Simon Rattle and James Levine had the courage to be photographed smiling, leading to todaysapproachable image of the maestroEngaging, funny, and profoundIn clean prose and witty asides, Mauceri explains the method behind the ostensible magic of orchestral conducting, and leads a whirlwind tour through some of the last century s memorable maestros Zo Madonna, The Boston GlobeTo read Maestros and Their Musicis to come away with a much clearer understanding of what its author calls the strange and lawless world of conducting Terry Teachout, Commentary Frank and informative about many aspects of the job of maestrofew authors have expressed so vividly the huge role of the score itself in a maestros daily work, or the non glamorous status of the guest conductor Opera News Mauceri demonstrates what its like to work closely with brilliant conductors, bringing their artistry to life Publishers WeeklySymphony lovers will be thrilled with the behind the scenes details, and aspiring conductors will enjoy the rich industry insight Those simply curious about how classical music happens will feel drawn in by Mauceris palpable passion BooklistInformative and entertaining Mauceri has an insiders grasp of the vagaries of the music business Maestros and Their Music will appeal to both musicians and others seeking a broad base of information about conducting and conductors Library JournalYou think conducting is a matter of a maestro merely knowing the score Let John Mauceri open your eyes and ears to the mysterious, solitary, itinerant world of the conductor and have all preconceptions blown away Mauceri rips the smoke and mirrors off his profession with wicked and gleeful lucidity, filling us in on its history and answering questions you didnt even know to ask This irresistible and unique book is guaranteed to send you to the concert hall and your CDs with newly educated earsand heart John Guare, playwrightArticulate and insightful, John Mauceri unapologetically invites us into his world, offering a perspective seldom shared and little understood Conductors are largely mysteries and intentionally so John leads us on a journey, taking apart the complex and rebuilding it in a way that creates a narrative anyone can understand This book not only unmasks a profession, it does the same for meeting and knowing John himself Whether you are a board of directors looking for your next music director or simply a music lover, I highly recommend reading this book Anne Parsons, president and CEO of the Detroit SymphonyWritten with the profound insight that comes out of a lifetime of conducting experience, John Mauceris brilliant book about maestros and their music will transform your understanding of every concert and opera you attend Everyone who cares about classical music should read this book Larry Wolff, author of The Singing TurkCombining rare insights with personal, sometimes hilarious, recollections and historical anecdotes, John Mauceri has created a remarkably perceptive and charming guide into the mysterious art of the conductor Part personal confession, part wise explication, Maestros and Their Music will be of tremendous value to anyone who wonders just what that person waving a stick in front of an orchestra is actually doing Stuart Isacoff, author of A Natural History of the Piano

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