The maestro myth : great conductors in pursuit of power / Norman Lebrecht Lebrecht, Norman, 1948-

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Lebrecht, Norman, 1948-
Conductors (Music); Music - History; Conducting.
"There is no profession which an imposter could enter more easily," wrote the violinist Carl Flesch of conducting. The truth may be that "great conductors" exist primarily because we demand mythical heroes, visible leaders, cultural icons. In this vigorous anatomy of power on the podium, Norman Lebrecht argues that the great conductor's musical purpose is secondary to his commercial necessity. Lebrecht traces the rise of the orchestra conductor from Bulow, Richter and Nikisch in the nineteenth century, when composers abdicated responsibility for directing their increasingly unwieldy scores, to the stars of today, masters of the musical world and the media. Lebrecht contends that the supreme example of the omnipotent conductor was Herbert von Karajan, the richest musician in history. With the aid of previously inaccessible material, he exposes the roots of Karajan's career in the Third Reich and on New York's 57th Street. He reassesses the mercurial Arturo Toscanini, looks behind Sir Thomas Beecham's wit and patrician charm, dissects the myriad legends surrounding Leonard Bernstein and examines the fierce professional rivalry between Riccardo Muti and Claudio Abbado. Portrayed here, too, are the obstacles faced by black, female or openly gay conductors. The author also highlights the phenomenon of the "semi-conductor" in the newly fashionable world of "early music" and lays bare the mounting crisis in a profession where real talent grows ever scarcer--with rare exceptions like Simon Rattle. Finally, he probes the awesome power of Ronald Wilford, who singlehandedly masterminds the careers and fortunes of the world's top conductors through the largest classical music agency, Columbia Artists Management Inc. A lively chronicle of individual ambition and achievement, The Maestro Myth delves into conducting's social, psychological, political and economic dynamics. For music lovers who enjoy having their opinions and prejudices challenged, here is a refreshing iconoclastic history of a profession which has too often been the object of sycophantic reverence [Publisher description].
Read associated articles: Karl Böhm, Norman Lebrecht, Serge Koussevitzky
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