This history of conductors argues that their lust for power and wealth has brought maestros to the brink of extinction, and it claims that this particular profession has too often been the object of sycophantic reverence. It is aimed at music lovers who enjoy having their opinions challenged.
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Music critic/provocateur Norman Lebrecht didn't make the high muckety-mucks of the classical music industry at all happy with this iconoclastic book, but he did open a lot of eyes. In 328 fascinating pages, he exposes the foibles and failings (musical and otherwise) of the great conductors of the last century. Why are there so few really outstanding conductors, and so many surface-skimming mediocrities? How did the conductor go from a mere time-beater to a powerful, immensely well-paid figure who jets from continent to continent and from podium to podium, hobnobbing with presidents and tycoons instead of with other musicians? Lebrecht explores all these factors, along with the history of conducting, and in the process dishes a few good anecdotes. He also shines the light on Ronald Wilford, the superagent of Columbia Artists Management, Inc., who controls the careers of more than 100 conductors--and, therefore, controls much of classical music. Lebrecht gets a few facts wrong (mostly minor--there haven't, for example, been stockyards in Chicago for some decades), but most of his points are well taken.From Kirkus Reviews:
Here, music-journalist Lebrecht (Mahler Remembered, 1987--not reviewed) cannonades world-famous, power-hungry conductors for their facades and for placing money over the welfare of orchestras. Lebrecht bolsters his thesis with an anecdotal history of conducting since Beethoven's Ninth. The first conductor of great fame, he says, was Hans von B low, Wagner's prot g , who was necessary for organizing Wagner's gigantic operas. Unhappily for von B low, Wagner stole his wife, Cosima Liszt, in the summer of 1865, following which the humiliated conductor led the four-hour premiere of Tristan und Isolde. Then Wagner cast von B low out of his service and von B low went on to become the first internationally acclaimed wandering conductor, despite bad nerves and mental problems. According to Lebrecht, von B low set the style that led to Leonard Bernstein, once the most traveled conductor on earth. Lebrecht sets forth the good example of Mahler, who exhausted himself trying to forge a great opera house out of Vienna Court Opera: ``He set the standard by which all operatic regimes are judged,'' Lebrecht says. The early great conductors, from Arthur Nikisch up to Wilhelm Furtw ngler, had a sense of family with their players and, like Mahler, focused on the growth of their home orchestra. But post-WW II conductors, Lebrecht argues, have spread themselves thin and become divorced from the players while building mythic images and raking in fees from recording companies. Lebrecht scores lacerating cuts to the reputations of Bruno Walter (``a pig''), Arturo Toscanini (the icon whose brutality became widely imitated), Herbert von Karajan (the ex-Nazi who became the richest classical musician in history), Leonard Bernstein, and many others. Vital, delicious--and dangerous to imposters behind the baton. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Descripción Pocket Books, 1997. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería 067101045X