How to conduct with both arms at your side
May 31, 2014 by norman lebrecht
This is Leonard Bernstein’s legendary performance of the finale of Haydn 88 with the Vienna Philharmonic, in which he never lifts a finger. The musicians have learned how to read his facial expressions and the audience in the front rows – just watch those faces – sit there wondering what the maestro gets paid for and expecting the performance to collapse.
It’s a magical human transaction, rooted far back in the history of conducting – it was a party trick of Arthur Nikisch – and achievable only with an orchestra of the highest sensitivity.
Lenny knew his Wieners. Would he ever have tried this in New York?
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