When the baton breaks, the orchestra plays on

At 3:12 on the video that follows you will see half a baton flying up into the air.

The other half remained in the conductor’s hand.

And the band played on.

Well done, Paul Mauffray.

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  • Makes no difference, or shouldn’t. It’s the hands that should convey the information, not the stick.

    Although it can be easier to see a baton in your peripheral vision without having to look up, even that doesn’t matter if the information is not helpful (e.g. circles instead of beat patterns).

  • I saw that once. Last year when Jean-François Rivest was conducting the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal. I wasn’t sure what I saw at first. Something flew up into the air. I thought it was the baton – I’ve seen that several times. But when I looked down Rivest still had a stub in his hand. He quickly got rid of that and conducted batonless. Maybe conductors should carry spare batons?

  • Not an uncommon event. I was at a Tennstedt concert when his baton flew away, the same happened to Leinsdorf’s at another concert. An audience member caught his and returned later. Both times the orchestra kept on going.

  • I’m a little confused by the negative reactions to Bruce’s observations…my own experiences on the podium and in orchestras fully back them…and a lack of stick doesn’t seem to have dimmed the communicative powers of Stokowski, Mitropoulos, Boulez…

    • The conductors you mention chose to conduct without a stick. Yet there are or were others whose stick technique is or was integral to their conducting style? How would Maazel or Boult be affected by missing their baton? I suppose they would have found ways to compensate, but their conducting style would suddenly change, wouldn’t it?

  • The occasion when John Pritchard’s toupee came loose whilst conducting the RLPO is still remembered on Merseyside.

  • Well Mark Elser has never used a baton with the Halle, and one of the finest orchestras around – and a thoughtful
    non-flamboyant conductor as well.

  • Thanks for sharing, Norman. And the band that played on was the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic to which I am indeed very thankful that they played on after the baton broke.

    In reply to Bruce, well sometimes it does make a difference if the conductor uses a baton. You may notice in the video that there is a bit more precision with it and a bit more freedom without it. Now I am trying to decide if I should try more often to conduct completely without baton …

    • Don’t think the lack of precision has anything to do with the lack of the baton. I’ve looked at a few of your other videos on youtube and the orchestras never sound together. Charlatanism at its finest.

      • I always welcome professional criticism and would invite you to send your comments for my consideration by email or in the comment sections of my videos.

  • Why, Mr Lebrecht, is this deemed newsworthy – this happens often but no-one (in the profession) – well almost no-one, gives it a second thought!

  • The orchestra keeps playing just fine. Some musicians smile. So do some of us upon noticing that.

    • at what moment did you think there was any sloppiness? They seemed quite fine to me both before and after the baton broke.

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