Have you seen the extreme conductors gif?

Folks have been having fun with their fave conductors in extreme positions.

Click here. You won’t be disappointed.

valery-gergiev ossetia
The swallowed lozenge look

Do add some more.

bernstein schooltube
I’m gonna sneeze

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  • Silly looking, aren’t they? I suppose that all that dramatic gesticulating impresses some, but they should take a look at Reiner, Monteux, Walter, Szell, Ormandy, Karajan, Cluytens, and many other greats of the past who got just as good results (if not better) and remained calm, cool, and in control.

  • Some of the cool and calm brigade – Boulez, Haitink, Kempe, Boult – have sent me to sleep or left me in tears (of boredom).

  • Hans von Bülow famously described the conductor-orchestra relationship with the term “orchestral coitus.” Several of these clips seem to illustrate the concept. Power and public subjugation, threats, the whipping and slashing of the phallic baton, and the orgiastic build to climax under the watchful and absolute authority of the conductor are part of what patrons expect from orchestras. At times, the relationships seem to contain vicarious satisfactions of sadism, especially in the days before unions. Why do sublimated sadomasochistic tendencies seem to be an inherent part of western music? Are these tendencies essential to our self-expression, or is art just an excuse?

    • I don’t know about the masochistic side but I think a good conductor, like a good teacher, has to have a touch of sadism in him if he is to get his protégés to surpass themselves.

  • Bruno Walter got fantastic results by appealing to the best side of musicians, and he did it nicely., They respected him and that’s all it took. Admittedly that approach didn’t work for Mitropolous in NY. So the best pairings are too complicated to reduce to static rules. The NY Phil sought out an East German (Masur of course) and then freaked when he yelled at them. It’s, how shall I put it, complicated.

    • Complicated? Yes, “orchestral coitus” is one of those more difficult human endeavors. It’s interesting that no other culture has anything similar to the conductor-orchestra relationship.

      • Played much sport, have you? I can think of quite a few coaches — Romanian gymnastic coaches come very much to mind, but there are also tales from US college football…

        • Yes, quite a few college football teams have coaches who stand in front of a group of line-backers, and they all emote according to how he waves his arms….

    • In Paul Tortelier’s memoirs he tells how he had to intervene with the Monte Carlo orchestra for mocking Bruno Walter who, in their estimation, had no rhythmic sense.

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