MUS103: Survey of Music History II Dr. Kathleen Bondurant, Ph.D. Famous Orchestra Conductors
Why a conductor for an orchestra?
The principal conductor of an orchestra or opera company is sometimes referred to as a music director or chief conductor , or by the German word, Kapellmeister . Conductors of choirs or choruses are sometimes referred to as choral director, chorus master, or choirmaster, particularly for choirs associated with an orchestra. Conductors of military bands and other bands may hold the title of bandmaster . Respected senior conductors are sometimes referred to by the Italian word, maestro ("master").
The CONDUCTOR is the coordinator of the orchestra personnel, keeper of the beat, and interpreter of the music.
The conducting baton.
In the 17th century, devices were used to indicate the passing of time. Rolled up sheets of paper, smaller sticks and unadorned hands are all shown in pictures from this period. The large staff was responsible for the death of Jean-Baptiste Lully, who stabbed his foot with one while conducting a Te Deum for the king's recovery from illness. The wound became gangrenous, and despite the efforts of doctors the gangrene spread to his leg and he died two months later.
A modern conducting baton with wooden handle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conducting
The Principal Violinist was sometimes the conductor.
In instrumental music and small ensembles, a member of the ensemble usually acted as the conductor. This was sometimes the principal violinist, who could use his bow as a baton, or a lutenist who would move the neck of his instrument in time with the beat. It was common to conduct from the harpsichord in pieces that had a basso continuo part. In opera performances, there were sometimes two conductors - the keyboard player was in charge of the singers, and the principal violinist was in charge of the orchestra.
The 1800’s – Conductors were “usual”.
By the early 19th century, it became the norm to have a dedicated conductor, who did not also play an instrument during the performance.
The size of the usual orchestra expanded during this period, and the use of a baton became more common, as it was easier to see than bare hands or rolled-up paper.
Among the earliest notable conductors were Louis Spohr, Carl Maria von Weber, Louis Antoine Jullien and Felix Mendelssohn, all of whom were also composers. Mendelssohn is claimed to have been the first conductor to utilize a wooden baton to keep time, a practice still generally in use today.
Hans von Bülow is commonly considered the first professional musician whose principal career was as a conductor.
Hans von Bülow http://www.sunrisemusics.com/filarmonica.htm
Hans Guido von Bülow was a German conductor, pianist and composer, born in Dresden on 8 January 1830.
As Hofkapellmeister, Bülow conducted Wagner’s masterpieces.
Bülow's musical studies began relatively late, and it was not until the age of nine, that he began to receive formal piano lessons.
After studying law in Leipzig and Dresden, he abandoned his legal career in 1850 to make his debut as a conductor in Zurich.
In 1851 he began piano studies at Weimar with Franz Liszt, whose daughter Cosima he went on to marry in 1857.
After teaching in Berlin (1855–1864) and giving piano recitals, he was appointed Hofkapellmeister in Munich in 1865, where he conducted the premieres of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (1865) and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868).
Bülow premiered Tchaikovsky in Boston in 1875
After his wife first Cosima (Liszt's daughter) left him for Richard Wagner after eleven years of marriage in 1868, Bülow resigned his post in Munich the following year, and began to tour widely in Europe, Russia and the United States.
It was in Boston in 1875 that he premiered Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, which the composer dedicated to him. Although closely associated with the New German School of music, Von Bülow also championed Tchaikovsky's works, and conducted the premiere of his Suite No. 3 in Saint Petersburg in 1885.
In 1882 Bülow married again to the actress Marie Schlanzer, who had friendly relations with Tchaikovsky.
Hans von Bülow died in Cairo, Egypt, on 12 February 1894, aged 64, following a long period of ill health.
Berlioz was the first “virtuoso conductor.
Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner were also conductors, and they wrote two of the earliest essays dedicated to the subject. Berlioz is considered the first virtuoso conductor. Wagner was largely responsible for shaping the conductor's role as one who imposes his own view of a piece onto the performance rather than one who is simply responsible for ensuring entries are made at the right time and that there is a unified beat.
Some conductors did not use batons.
Amongst prominent conductors who did not or do not use a baton are Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Boulez, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Kurt Masur and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Leopold Stokowski -- Flamboyant conductor and musician. 1882-1977 http://media.npr.org/programs/pt/images/2006/Stokowski200.jpg Autocratic conductor Leopold Stokowski scolded the audience at a concert in New York in 1945.
Leopold Stokowski (Conductor, Arranger)
Born: April 18, 1882 - London, England Died: September 13, 1977 - Nether Wallop, Hampshire, England
The celebrated, spectacularly endowed, and magically communicative English-born American conductor (and arranger), Leopold (Anthony) Stokowski, was born into a Polish and Irish mother, but was raised as an Englishman. His famous, vaguely foreign, accent somehow appeared later in his life. (It is widely believed this was an affectation, as was his name, adopted in favor of the less exotic-sounding "Leo Stokes.") The young Stokowski was a precocious musician, and as a child learned to play the violin, piano, and organ with apparently little effort. At the age of thirteen, he became the youngest person to have been admitted to the Royal College of Music.
By eighteen, Leopold Stokowski had been appointed organist and choirmaster at St. James', Piccadilly.
He attended Queen's College, Oxford, receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1903.
He moved to the USA in 1905, but returned to Europe each summer for further musical studies in Berlin, Munich, and Paris. When a conductor fell ill in Paris in 1908, he made his debut as an emergency substitute.
The impression he made led to a position with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in which he quickly achieved notable success.
However, a more tempting prospect faced him when he was asked to take over the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1912. It was during his long and fruitful association with this ensemble that Stokowski established himself as one of the leading musicians of his day.
Pierre Boulez http://aeijtzsche.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html
Pierre Boulez born 26 March 1925
He studied with Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire (1942-5), inheriting Messiaen's concern with rhythm, non-developing forms and extra-European music along with the Schöenberg tradition of Leibowitz. The clash of the two influences lies behind such intense, disruptive works as his first two piano sonatas (1946, 1948) and Livre pour quatuor for string quartet (1949).
The violence of his early music also suited that of René Char's poetry in the cantatas Le visage nuptial (1946) and Le soleil des eaux (1948), though through this highly charged style he was working towards an objective serial control of rhythm, loudness and tone colour that was achieved in the Structures for two pianos (1952). At this time he came to know Stockhausen, with whom he became a leader of the European avant garde, teaching at Darmstadt (1955-67) and elsewhere, and creating one of the key postwar works in his Le marteau sans maître (1954).
Once more to poems by Char, the work is for contralto with alto flute, viola, guitar and percussion: a typical ensemble of middle-range instruments with an emphasis on struck and plucked sounds. The filtering of Boulez's earlier manner through his 'tonal serialism' produces a work of feverish speed, unrest and elegance.
Born: September 1, 1935 - Fenytien [now Shenyang, Liaoning, China]
The Japanese conductor, Seiji Ozawa, studied music from an early age and later graduated with first prizes in composition and conducting from Tokyo's Toho School of Music. In 1959 he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors held in Besançon, France. Charles Munch, then music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, subsequently invited him to attend the Tanglewood Music Center, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize for outstanding student conductor in 1960.
While working with Herbert von Karajan in West Berlin, Seiji Ozawa came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season. He made his first professional concert appearance in North America in January 1962, with the San Francisco Symphony.
He was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Ravinia Festival for five summers beginning in 1964, music director of the Toronto Symphony from 1965 to 1969, and music director of the San Francisco Symphony from 1970 to 1976, followed by a year as that orchestra's music adviser.
He conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first time in 1964, at Tanglewood, and made his first Symphony Hall appearance with the orchestra in January 1968. He became an artistic director of Tanglewood in 1970 and began his tenure as music director of the BSO in 1973, following a year as music adviser.
With the 2000-2001 season, Seiji Ozawa marks his twenty-seventh anniversary as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Since he became the BSO's music director in 1973, Ozawa has devoted himself to the orchestra through the longest tenure of any music director currently active with a major orchestra, approached in BSO history only by the twenty-five-year tenure of the legendary Serge Koussevitzky. In the fall of 2002, Ozawa will begin a new phase in his career when he assumes the post of music director of the Vienna State Opera.
Born: July 28, 1874 - Vyshniy Volochek, Russia Died: June 4, 1951 - Boston, Massachusetts, USA
The first major Russian conductor, Serge (Aleksandrovich) Koussevitzky was born in Russia to a family of musicians.
At the age of fourteen he was given a scholarship to the Musico-Dramatic Institute in Moscow to study double bass and music theory. He excelled at the bass, joining the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra at age twenty and succeeding his teacher as the principal bassist at twenty-seven.
As a soloist, he made his Moscow debut in 1901, and won critical accolades for his first Berlin recital in 1903. Koussevitzky married his first wife Natalie Ushkov, daughter of a wealthy merchant, in 1905 and moved to Germany.
In 1908, Koussevitzky made his professional debut as a conductor, hiring and leading a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
The next year he founded his own orchestra in Moscow and branched out into the publishing business, forming his own firm and buying the catalogues of many of the greatest composers of the age, including Stravinsky, Scriabin, Prokofiev and Sergei Rachmaninov.
During the period 1909 to 1920 he established himself as a brilliant conductor in Europe. After the Russian Revolution, he returned to his homeland for a brief time to conduct the State Symphony Orchestra in Petrograd; in 1920, he made his way to Paris, where he organized the Concerts Koussevitzky, presenting new works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Ravel.
In 1924 he accepted the directorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra beginning a golden era for that ensemble that would continue until 1949.
In Boston, Koussevitzky championed new music,commissioning important works from Copland, Harris, Piston, Barber, Hanson, Schuman, Bernstein, and his old friends, Stravinsky and Ravel. In 1936 he took over the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Mass. and in 1940 added a school, the Berkshire Music Center. In 1942 the Koussevitzky Foundation was established to commission and provide performances of new works. At Tanglewood, Koussevitzky held classes in conducting and was succeeded in the post by his student, Leonard Bernstein. Since its founding, Tanglewood has grown to become one of the world's major centers for musical education and has served as the musical springboard for countless instrumentalists, singers, conductors and composers.
Leonard Bernstein http://aeijtzsche.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html http://www.hmd.lu/concert/Gala2003/Leonard_Bernstein.jpg
Leonard Bernstein – American Conductor
Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was a multi-Emmy-winning American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist.
He was the first conductor born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim.
He is perhaps best known for his long conducting relationship with the New York Philharmonic, which included the acclaimed Young People's Concerts series, and his compositions including West Side Story , Candide , and On the Town. Bernstein was the first classical music conductor to make numerous television appearances, all between 1954 and 1989.
Additionally he had a formidable piano technique and was a highly respected composer. He is one of the most influential figures in the history of American classical music, championing the works of American composers and inspiring the careers of a generation of American musicians.