Toscanini, Bernstein, Karajan, Szell, Kleiber—these are the names of noted conductors, but what exactly is a conductor, what are they actually required to do, and how do they achieve it?
At first look, it seems they just beat time with gestures and bark out orders. But to achieve results of artistic uniformity, coordination, style and mood, the position entails a high degree of control and power. Every musician in the orchestra is a highly trained professional and will have a firm idea of how each work of music should be presented, but there can be only one perspective, one interpretation for overall success. Consequently, the role of the conductor encompasses a variety of skills and knowledge that involves music, history, business, marketing, coaching, teaching, psychology and philosophy.
But most important, a conductor must be a great leader. There are many different methods to get the job done—from dictatorial temper tantrums and threats, to benevolent, patient teaching and coaching. There is not one way to achieve results on the podium. It is a personal approach to music and people that must be sincere and committed. Using recordings and film footage, our seminar will look at the careers of several top-name conductors, seeking insight into their leadership, methods, artistry, success and the power of music.
To learn more, read Rick’s blog post Is Music a Universal Language?
“The principal task of a conductor is not to put himself in evidence but to disappear behind his functions as much as possible.
We are steersmen, not oarsmen.”
– Franz Liszt