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Show ALL Forums  > Art/Music  > The classical music conductor      Home login  
Joined: 3/26/2007
Msg: 1
The classical music conductorPage 1 of 1    
I know there are classical music threads, but I wanted to ask a specific question about this. WTF is the deal?? The musicians are reading their music during a concert, not watching some bozo flap his arms around like a retard. Right? What do they need this guy for? I hear that some of those conductors make a lot of money. Why not ditch him and cut ticket prices?
Joined: 4/13/2007
Msg: 2
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 5/21/2007 7:39:23 PM
It is quite true that a conductor is only as good as the orchestra in front of him, but, in fact, the ensemble does need him/her to guide the musical performance. He/she guides tempo and stylistic changes, gives cues to particular sections or musicians in tricky areas, and is the defining factor in inspiring the orchestra to become artistically one with him/her and thus projecting that magic to the audience.

So much of what you don't get to see by simply attending a concert also rides on a conductor's shoulders. The way in which the music will be performed comes down to his/her decision (tempos, length of pauses, stylistic liberties, etc.). The conductor also is in charge of full ensemble rehearsals. Or, in other words, he/she leads the rehearsals and guides the musicians, musical sections, and ensemble as a whole in connecting with one another and the music to produce a specific piece. The passion, depth, dedication and demeanor of a conductor definitely makes or breaks an orchestra experience for musicians and that, in turn, will impact the orchestra's performances.

There is so much more that could be said on this topic, but in a very basic fashion, it all comes down to the concept of preventing "too many chiefs and not enough indians". Musicians are highly passionate, driven, and intense. Each one has his/her own style, views and feel for a piece of music. No one is wrong, per se, but someone has to be in charge and make the decisions or nothing will ever get accomplished in rehearsals which would create disaster on stage. Once the production makes it to the stage, that conductor transforms into a vessel with which to encourage, inspire, and center the orchestra throughout the performance.
Joined: 9/5/2005
Msg: 3
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 5/21/2007 9:23:47 PM
You always have one eye up front and one eye on your music. There are also times where you've got both eyes up front, like when there's a tempo change or a big cadence or something where their interpretation is "key". Also waiting for an entrance. You might have 16 measures rest. WATCH for your cue, and listen for the instrument that comes in right before you. Its the last benevolent dictatorship.

I performed in orcherstras for 20+ years.
Joined: 10/3/2006
Msg: 5
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 6/6/2007 10:40:06 AM

WTF is the deal?? The musicians are reading their music during a concert, not watching some bozo flap his arms around like a retard. Right?

Spoken like a person who has never been in an orchestra. I played the flute for nine years, and BELIEVE me, a conductor is necessary. He or she determines the tempo of the piece, helps to cue when the musicians are to come in, helps determine how loud or soft the different instrumentalists play. Would you go on a boat with no one to steer the ship? I don't think so.
One of my all-time favorite conductors is John Williams. I had the privilege of seeing him twice when he came to conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony. He conducted pieces from his various films (Star Wars, Superman, ET, Harry Potter, Jaws, etc.) and it was PHENOMENAL.
Joined: 3/26/2007
Msg: 6
The classical music conductor
Posted: 6/6/2007 11:00:05 AM
Does Bugs still conduct or is he retired?
Joined: 2/15/2007
Msg: 7
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 6/7/2007 10:00:56 AM
Actually, the musicians have their stands positioned so that they can see the conductor and the music at the same time. The music's there as a reminder, but by the time of the concert you're not reading the same way as when you first saw it. The strings also have to watch the bows of the first stand of their section to make sure that all the bows in the section are doing the exact same thing. Musicians are an extremely opinionated bunch and the musical score is a recipie for music rather than a manual with everything in it. So, the conductor has to pick the way the orchestral as a whole will play the piece, and everyone has to do what he/she says, regardless of whether or not they like it! That's one of the reasons why so many of the important conductors are old--it takes time to establish your musical credibility and authority. It's also one of the reasons why they're egoists and conceited! Imagine being able to tell 100 people that they have to do things your way. By the way, conductors are only very recent entities. It used to be that the violinist sitting in the chair closest to the audience in the first stand started and ended things off, or the harpsichordist.
For what it's worth.
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 8
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 8/11/2009 4:55:09 AM
Granted, the biggest part of the conductors job is in the rehearsal. Most usually, the conductor is also the musical director and decides what music gets performed.

It's very common for composers to conduct their own music. Beethoven and Stravinsky are infamous examples of why maybe they shouldn't.

Very few conductors today start out as aspiring conductors. They most commonly come from the ranks of solo artists and composers.

One of the great things about classical music is being able to listen to the same music being played by completely different artists. There's nothing better than finding a performer who brings out something in a well known piece which you've never thought of before.
Then again, there are some performers who should go away and never be thought of again.
Joined: 5/10/2008
Msg: 9
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 8/12/2009 11:52:47 PM
To put it basicly...he's like the silent metronom.
Joined: 4/5/2009
Msg: 10
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The classical music conductor
Posted: 8/16/2009 9:56:25 PM
No, he's much more than a metronome. He guides the ensemble stylistically. He guides them in articulation, dynamics, and pace. In rehersals, he may tell them verbally, if necessary. Most of what he does on concert night is show, but everything he expects from the ensemble is represented in how he moves on the podium. His frequency dictates tempo. The magnitude of his waving arms dictates volume. The way he moves the baton dictates stylistic nuances eg. legato (smooth and flowing) vs. staccato (short and separated. He also uses it to indicate accents and to cue specific entrances. Without his guidance, you'd have a musical tower of Babel.
Joined: 8/5/2009
Msg: 11
The classical music conductor
Posted: 8/25/2009 12:23:10 PM
I've heard that Mehta's baton would sometimes fly out of his hand. I finally saw it happen to a conductor this summer. It was Dutoit though, not Zube.
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