Since we are exploring classical music

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DaveHo
DaveHo Posts: 3,489
To preface this, I have some classical recordings, and my son plays cello in the high school orchestra. I often see praise directed on a specific conductor. Why is this? At least at the high school level, they seem to be more of a puppet than someone who truly affects the performance. Am I just naive? Enlighten me.

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  • TroyD
    TroyD Posts: 13,077
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    So, think of it like this.

    Think of a song…. Sweet Jane, for example. Do you like The Velvet Underground version or The Cowboy Junkies??

    The conductor basically interprets how a piece is played….
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut
  • tophatjohnny
    tophatjohnny Posts: 4,174
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    TroyD wrote: »
    So, think of it like this.

    Think of a song…. Sweet Jane, for example. Do you like The Velvet Underground version or The Cowboy Junkies??

    The conductor basically interprets how a piece is played….

    Both those versions are good but being Lous tune I’ll give props his way! 😉
    "if it's not fun, it's not worth it & remember folks, "It's All About The Music"!!
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  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 4,427
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    For a professional orchestra a conductor is the leader aka "maestro" responsible for keeping up to 100 highly trained and disciplined musicians under control and in time while also giving their own vision or interpretation of what a composer originally wrote on sheet music. The musicians need a leader. A conductor can spend years shaping the orchestra to be what they want it to be. Most of what goes into a public performance is worked out in exhaustive rehearsals led by the conductor.

    A high school band is similar in intent but at a much lower level of expectations for musicianship.

    Here's one of the best...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJQ8o3A_Cu4
  • DaveHo
    DaveHo Posts: 3,489
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    TroyD wrote: »
    So, think of it like this.

    Think of a song…. Sweet Jane, for example. Do you like The Velvet Underground version or The Cowboy Junkies??

    The conductor basically interprets how a piece is played….

    But this is a studio setting, right? The producer can influence the final product with multiple takes. How does that translate to real time? Sure they practice the piece, during which things are tweaked. But is the conductor a part of that process?
  • DaveHo
    DaveHo Posts: 3,489
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    Let me relate an experience of my own. Back in the day, the Reading Symphony Orchestra had Werner Klemperer as a guest conductor numerous times. There may have been some queues during transitions, but mostly the musicians just played without lifting their heads.
  • mhardy6647
    mhardy6647 Posts: 33,323
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    DaveHo wrote: »
    Let me relate an experience of my own. Back in the day, the Reading Symphony Orchestra had Werner Klemperer as a guest conductor numerous times. There may have been some queues during transitions, but mostly the musicians just played without lifting their heads.

    His father, Otto, was considered a great conductor. You probably knew that. Werner was, mostly, an actor.

  • TroyD
    TroyD Posts: 13,077
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    DaveHo wrote: »
    TroyD wrote: »
    So, think of it like this.

    Think of a song…. Sweet Jane, for example. Do you like The Velvet Underground version or The Cowboy Junkies??

    The conductor basically interprets how a piece is played….

    But this is a studio setting, right? The producer can influence the final product with multiple takes. How does that translate to real time? Sure they practice the piece, during which things are tweaked. But is the conductor a part of that process?

    No.

    Give you another example. "A Case of You". Joni Mitchell wrote it and performed it one way......Diana Krall performed it in a completely different way. A conductor, similarly, will interpret and ultimately conduct a piece according to thier style, taste, whatever.

    In the classical realm, this is pretty easy to discern. Take a piece.....and listen to different versions conducted by different people. The piece is relatively same but the differences are clearly discernable.



    I plan for the future. - F1Nut
  • SeleniumFalcon
    SeleniumFalcon Posts: 3,580
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    I have been following, on YouTube, a channel produced by Dave Hurwitz called: "The Ultimate Classical Music Guide by Dave Hurwitz" and have learned a great deal. He will take a piece of classical music, such as a Beethoven symphony and explain why some conductors and some orchestras do a better job than others. He has written many books on classical composers and how to enjoy their music. He has an enormous CD collection and will do a countdown on the best recordings. The video fidelity is a bit murky for some reason and he can go into minute details, but he is never boring. He comes across as genuinely wanting people to learn about classical music and to develop an enjoyment. He can be really funny and will sometimes poke gentle fun at audiophiles.
  • TroyD
    TroyD Posts: 13,077
    edited June 2023
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    Thanks Ken, will definately be checking that out!!

    Also, what I probably should have said before was that when you are talking about the production aspect....I kind of think of that as the mixed and mastered sound on the recording which isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the conductor interpreting a specific piece of music and how it is performed. Two different things........

    I think as audiophiles we tend get wrapped up in how a recording sounds as opposed to the quality of the performance. I have records that sound great but the performance is so/so and then I have records of brilliant performances that the recording is so/so.
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut
  • engie490
    engie490 Posts: 429
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    The conductor is every bit as much of an artist as the folks with the instruments. The conductor determines the reading of the work and can add their own artistic statement. Listen to Ormandy with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dorati in Minneapolis, or Reiner and the CSO and you may hear the same notes, but other differences are readily apparent as noted above.
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  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 4,427
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  • DaveHo
    DaveHo Posts: 3,489
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    Ok, what I have discerned is that I need to be more observant when attending a performance. I will strive to do so. But mostly I just get wrapped up in the moment.
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,141
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    I’ll have to look and see which Symphony it was, but the reading materials of one of Beethoven’s Symphony’s indicate that orchestra members declined to play it b/c Beethoven was not appreciated as a conductor. He kept trying to conduct, but they would not cooperate b/c he had imprecise baton gestures (get your minds out of the gutter 😂) which made it difficult to follow his lead.

    Only once he stepped down would they play the symphony he wrote lead by another conductor.

    Will get back once I locate the info.
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  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,141
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    jbreezy5 wrote: »
    I’ll have to look and see which Symphony it was, but the reading materials of one of Beethoven’s Symphony’s indicate that orchestra members declined to play it b/c Beethoven was not appreciated as a conductor. He kept trying to conduct, but they would not cooperate b/c he had imprecise baton gestures (get your minds out of the gutter 😂) which made it difficult to follow his lead.

    Only once he stepped down would they play the symphony he wrote lead by another conductor.

    Will get back once I locate the info.

    Here it is:

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    qyu9npe0wkpo.jpeg

    n1txlddpis9q.jpeg

    CD Players: Sony CDP-211; Sony DVP-S9000ES; Sony UDP-X800M2 (x2); Cambridge Audio CXC

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    Streamers: ROKU (x3); Bluesound Node 2i and Node N130 w/LHY LPS // Receivers: Yamaha RX-V775BT; Yamaha RX-V777

    Preamps: B&K Ref 50; B&K Ref 5 S2; Classe CP-800 MkII; Audio Research SP16L (soon)

    Amps: Niles SI-275; B&K ST125.7; B&K ST125.2; Classe CA-2300; Butler Audio TDB-5150

    Speakers: Boston Acoustics CR55; Focal Chorus 705v; Wharfedale Diamond 10.2; Monitor Audio Silver-1; Def Tech Mythos One (x4)/Mythos Three Center (x2)/Mythos Two pr.; Martin Logan Electromotion ESL; Legacy Audio Victoria/Silverscreen Center; Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.1; SVS SB-1000 Pro; REL HT-1003; B&W ASW610; HifiMan HE400i

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  • aprazer402
    aprazer402 Posts: 3,122
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOHl_X_OoIk

    Classical music is best LIVE, you get to feel and observe...

    Our recordings at home serve more to remind us of that, at least for me.
  • txcoastal1
    txcoastal1 Posts: 13,161
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    As Valentina Lisitsa would say "HOLD MY BEER"...well likely a nice glass wine...

    You can listen and watch in entirety for at the least listen at 4:47


    Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

    https://youtu.be/LdH1hSWGFGU
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    erat interfectorem cesar et **** dictatorem dicere a
  • aprazer402
    aprazer402 Posts: 3,122
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    ^^^^ Entire video is outstanding!
  • Moose68Bash
    Moose68Bash Posts: 3,842
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    I consider the conductor a musician whose instrument is the orchestra -- each section and within each section each instrumentalist. He makes music using the composer's score and the members of the orchestra.
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  • jdjohn
    jdjohn Posts: 3,058
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    During an actual performance, the conductor may seem like a puppet, but it's all the hours and hours of rehearsal beforehand where he/they really put their imprint on a piece. They have to get an entire orchestra of musicians on the same page with timing, crescendos/decrescendos, dynamics of different orchestra sections during certain passages, etc. Musicians will write notes, or add highlights, on their sheets of music during the practice sessions to mirror what the conductor wants reflected throughout the course of a piece of music. And remember, these pieces last several minutes, with typically lots of variation throughout...these are not 3-minute pop songs. It takes a lot of concentration and focus to make it through, and Lord help you if you get behind, or lost, especially if the piece is moving quickly. I've done some choral work over the years, including with a symphony, so have first-hand experience with this. It can be a bit like herding cats.

    One metaphor that could be used is like having different chefs cook the same dish with the same recipe. Each version will taste slightly different.
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  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,632
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    Two thumbs up, Valentina!!! Bravo!

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • maxward
    maxward Posts: 1,551
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    Great thread! In a similar vein to Beethoven not being appreciated as a conductor, my Dad once told me a story about Fritz Reiner (Chicago Symphony), which I haven’t verified, but assume that it’s true. Apparently, Fritz was noted for having extremely minuscule baton movements. Once, during a rehearsal, some musician in the back (a percussionist?) took out a pair of binoculars. Fritz spotted this and fired the guy on the spot! Talk about humor impaired.
  • SeleniumFalcon
    SeleniumFalcon Posts: 3,580
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    Classical music enthusiasts have their favorite conductor and will defend him or her with the same intensity as baseball pitchers or hitters. Mark Suskind, Polk's retired project manager, is a staunch supporter of Arturo Toscanini and believed him to be the best there's ever been. Another friend of mine was a staunch believer in Wilhelm Furtwangler's abilities, to the point that he couldn't listen to anybody else doing Beethoven.
  • TroyD
    TroyD Posts: 13,077
    edited June 2023
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    Ken, I was reading something awhile back about Furtwangler and Toscanini not being mutual admirers.....interesting stuff. I've been gathering Furtwangler recordings lately and just am fascinated by his performances.....I've said before, if his recording of the adagio from Bruckner's 7th doesn't move you, there is something wrong with you.
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut
  • msg
    msg Posts: 9,848
    edited June 2023
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    I heard this this morning.
    Available on Spotify, and likely other platforms as well.

    I like old record sets for stuff like this. Watching the turntable spin, some nice, chill, dim and warm ambient lighting, and this rich audio...

    6lvnvr0bdmqe.jpeg
    Post edited by msg on
    I disabled signatures.
  • alexpall
    alexpall Posts: 1
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    Classical music, with its rich history and diverse styles, offers an immense array of compositions from different eras. From the intricate baroque works of Bach to the emotional symphonies of Beethoven, exploring this genre can be a deeply rewarding experience, revealing the evolution of musical expression through centuries.