The Virtuoso Conductors

The Central European Tradition from Wagner to Karajan

Raymond Holden

View Inside Price: $65.00


October 11, 2005
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
10 b and w halftones
ISBN: 9780300093261
Cloth

Out of Print

An expert’s guide to the skills of the greatest conductors

While Weber, Spohr, Mendelssohn, and Berlioz were all conductors of repute, it was the thoughts and practices of Richard Wagner that laid the foundation for the modern virtuoso conductor. Though he was more celebrated for his dramatic operas, Wagner’s experience as a conductor brought a set of practices and principles that affected the interpretations of future generations, and conductors continue to pursue his example today.


This book examines Wagner’s conducting career and the principles of his musical performance. It then tracks the central European style through some of the greatest figures of modern music—Nikisch, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Weingartner, Furtwangler, Toscanini, Walter, Klemperer, Beecham, Boult, and others through to von Karajan, Bernstein, and George Szell. In each case Holden, himself a professional classical conductor, traces the rise from apprenticeship to international acclaim, comparing rehearsal technique, the baton, eye contact, repertoire, tempo, recordings, vision, style, and performance practice. The result is a deeply informative, intriguing, and highly readable portrait of the finest exponents of the conducting tradition.

Raymond Holden was formerly an orchestral, choral, and operatic conductor, and is tutor in postgraduate conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

"Holden's book enhances our understanding of those figures who have been neglected in the English literature... Holden's meticulous cataloguing of the developing repertiore of each conductor is perhaps the book's most impressive and useful feature..." - Michael Downes, Times Literary Supplement

“Holden’s strong suit is his practical experience as a professional conductor. Abundant enthusiasm and love of the craft ensures a stimulating book.”—Cyril Ehrlich

"This is no superficial fan review—the accounts are heavily footnoted and fact-laden."—Library Journal

"[A] tightly focused and well-researched volume. After an introduction describing the theories, practices, and influences of Wagner, the author devotes each of nine chapters to a single conductor. . . . Each chapter places the chosen conductor in biographical, social, and musical context. Especially good are discussions of repertoire and programming choices and of the role of the conductor as arbiter of musical taste. Highly recommended."—Choice

 

 

"...a book that promises much, and actually delivers it too."---Chris Walton, Musical Times
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