18 tips for a young conductor

18 tips for a young conductor


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2021

In our Reader’s Comment of the Day, an orchestra veteran offers important advice to a young conductor, who asked for it.

1- please, educate yourself. Not only in music, but also in literature, arts and philosophy. We had a not-so-young conductor (now with a first class international career) in my first f/t position in a professional orchestra about 20 years conducting Strauss’ Dance that mentioned in the middle of the rehearsal that the libretto of Salome was written by Hofmannsthal. I couldn’t take seriously that man anymore [please see point 3].
2- don’t waste the orchestra’s time with your needs. And if you stop please tell us why. If you make a mistake just say “sorry, I think I can do this better”. And that’s it: we are all humans and make mistakes.
3- please, don’t talk too much. If you have good conducting technique that’s all you need. We can understand you better if you show what you want. And this brings us to…
4- know what you want. And plan your rehearsals (then it is very likely that the plan will change, but at least you have an idea of what you want to achieve).
5- please, finish in time the reahearsal. Some of us might be hungry, need to visit the restroom or pick up our children from school. In my orchestra we are very tolerant, but in some public orchestras musicians might just stand up and leave when the time is up. You have been warned 😉
6- please don’t try to be original just for the sake of being different and unique. It is very likely we have played the standard repertoire many more times than you have conducted it. Please, build on that.
7- remember: we are there to make music. We (the orchestra) want to sound better and you can help us. That is your mission. Please, be the music, and be there for the music. Conducting should not be a way to make you feel “good” or important.
8- please, go step by step in your career. Don’t try to go from riding a bicycle with training wheels to piloting an airplane in 5 years. Earn your stripes in youth/community orchestras, assisting in opera, working as accompanist in opera…. give yourself time to grow, because if you accept being pushed in front of us and you are not ready your mistakes will cause frustration in professional orchestras. The problem is that some young conductors are promoted to these careers because they project “the right image”, and agencies have a lot of money to make from it.
9- what you do with your gestures has to match what we have in the part. If you are jumping like crazy and we have a sustained note ppp you are not helping us.
10- more energy doesn’t mean more sound or excitement. It is rather the moment when you give it. If you give us too much information all the time, too many movements, it can become overwhelming and we might end up disconnecting.
11- please LEAD.
12- please notice that “it is a dream to be here” [followed by some good 2 minutes of talking about themselves] is a speech we hear every time we get a new conductor (and some give the same time when they are re-invited). As someone said around here “Good morning ladies and gentleman. This week we have a beautiful program ahead of us. The plan today is Mahler, and after the break we will do only the third movement so the winds may leave. Mahler, first movement, please”.
13- if you have special requirements for bowings please do it ahead of time. Please, don’t use 5 minutes to sort out bowings with the concertmaster.
14- please make sure that we can all hear you. In the last stand of first violins perhaps there is an old lady who can’t hear as well as she could when she was 20 😉
15- please, in good professional orchestras, you don’t need to repeat a passage just to be sure that the musicians a small minor correction right. We most likely got it.
16- if someone in the winds is playing out of tune, please TELL THEM, and correct the intonation!
17- in general “less is more”. Save the best and for the really big momments it is a lot more effective.
18- please, communicate with your eyes. With your eyes you can show aproval, warn a section that they have an entrance after a long time without playing… what worked for Karajan (eyes closed) might not work for you.

I am sure some of colleagues would not agree. I have never ever stood on the podium nor held a baton, but that is the advice I can give you based on my experience of playing in student, amateur, youth, and professional orchestras (both in the pit and on the stage).

Finally, I wish you all the best of luck in your career. You have a beautiful profession. Do things in a smart way, and maybe some day I will have the pleasure of congratulating you (believe me, when the conductor is good and I feel “wow, that was a good concert” I do it). Perhaps then you will be too busy for that coffee!


  • Marco van de Klundert says:

    Not a wind player I presume…

  • Anon says:

    With all due respect, these are comments from someone who does not play in a top tier orchestra. It sounds like an orchestra which plays a lot under inexperienced young conductors, though.

    So many of these points are non-issues in a professionally run orchestra. Only an amateur or low level orchestra would permit a conductor who does not “stop in time”. It’s means paying overtime or making some other concession to the musicians in compensation down the road.

    Top conductors who come from the best orchestras do NOT correct winds for intonation, as someone else here pointed out. That is on their shoulders.

    Repeating over & over again is something that’s done a lot in youth orchestras. If this lady’s guest conductors are doing that she is getting youth orchestra conductors. Either get a job with a better orchestra or make a complaint to your manager. You can’t ask conductors to turn down work because musicians might feel he/she is not ready.

    And lastly, I will point out again that the choice of which conductors direct an orchestra is the responsibility of the General Manager. Not agents, who are selling their product, the young conductor, wherever they can, or the conductors themselves who are taking any opportunity available.

    This is a very specialized list of complaints which are fairly specific to this lady’s orchestra. I understand what she is speaking of, but you don’t usually see these things in a top level, or professionally run orchestra. Top orchestras choose their conductors more carefully and if this behavior happens, conductors aren’t invited back. A good manager will listen to the complaints of the musicians and make sure the quality of the conductors he/she chooses is compatible with the quality of the players.

    I respect this author and her experience. I can she that she is a veteran player, probably a tutti violinist, in this particular orchestra, or has played in others like it. She is a good professional and says nothing on the job and here she is venting, in a safe place. She has a lot of wisdom about her particular orchestra. Seems like she’s be a good management or committee candidate herself.

    But advice to young conductors in general? No. Some of these points are valid, but most are from the perspective of a disgruntled veteran player who is sick and tired of playing under the same type of inexperienced young conductors which apparently frequent her lower level or poorly run orchestra a lot.

    • Henrik Dahlsjo says:

      Which top tier orchestra has the pleasure of having such an arrogant, condescending boor in its employ?

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      This advice is for young conductors based on the experience of years of playing in very good professional orchestras (and before that in youth orchestras and in school in laboratory orchestras for conducting classes), playing in conducting masterclasses, and knowing what I believe should be expected from a conductor (and all the things that I don’t appreciate in conductors), not on every single guest conductor we get these days or our chief conductor. But you would be surprised on how many of the big names or the younger-big-names out there (many of them conductors featured as super-stars on SD) would benefit from doing (or not doing) the things on the list.

      That said, you don’t know who I am and where I play, and I don’t know who you are nor what you do. That’s the beauty of anonymity. You can speculate, but it will never be more than that. Like it or not, I could not care less.

      • Anon says:

        Dear Frau,

        I am not trying to identify you or your orchestra. This is a wonderful venue for all of us to be able to vent anonymously. I am also a veteran player, a good professional and I do exactly the same here!

        What this forum can achieve is reveal the differences between how players view conductors in orchestras in different parts of the world.

        Just like you, I have an expectation of how conductors should behave in my orchestra. I’ve learned from you that the standard varies from orchestra to orchestra more than I thought, and perhaps it doesn’t actually reflect the level of the orchestra. I certainly do not play in a top tier orchestra but we get many conductors who come from them, and I assume that the way they treat us is how they treat their own orchestras. I’ve observed this carefully over many years.

        We would be shocked if any conductor, new or old, tried to work us thru a break or end late. Any conductor who’s ever worked in the US knows how problematic that is with the union.

        Repeating passages for the players’ benefit I haven’t experienced for a long time. Most of us come meticulously prepared. It’s a point of pride. It’s such a privilege to have an orchestra job, why would any player choose to come unprepared like that? We do notice that conductors will sometimes repeat passages THEY have trouble with.

        Intonation is often a subjective, delicate matter with winds/brass. I’ve noticed that the best conductors, who are accustomed to working with good players, leave it alone. It’s too easy for solo players to take offense. The attitude can be: “who are you as someone holding a baton to tell me as an experienced player that how I am hearing this is wrong?”

        Since you’re a tutti, you missed an enormous issue related to your intonation comment. Conductors should NEVER single out individual players or call attention to specific sections in the orch unless it’s critical. And it should always be done with great respect. Our pride, or reputation as musicians depends on how conductors treat us in front of our colleagues. One comment from a guest conductor, not carefully chosen and expressed, can destroy a solo player’s or even an entire section’s credibility for a long time and create enormous resentment towards the conductor. A wise conductor is aware of this.

        Conversely, players must watch carefully what they say to conductors in front of the orchestra in rehearsal, even simple questions. Conductors also value their reputations in front of the orchestra.

        I have reread your suggestions. I agree with most of what you say, but I feel strongly that you need to remember that things in your orchestra are not the same in every orchestra. Nor are they in mine.

        And quite honestly, I must say that tutti string players – especially those who’ve been there a long time – often have a big sense of entitlement about their opinions and how things should be. Their a**es are seldom on the line. They play in the safety of a large group. If they miss a note or play a note out of tune, they’re not under fire. They are rarely addressed by or have to speak to a conductor directly. Consequently many of them have very privileged attitudes about artistic matters in the orchestra, especially with regards to conductors and more exposed sections of the orchestra. I have been shocked to hear last chair violas ranting on about how bad a conductor or soloist is. I wonder “Could you do it? Who are you, who plays safely as a part of your section, to criticize any brave soul who stands alone, either in, or in front of your orchestra?”

        I believe this to be an interesting meeting of the minds. I have no interest in outing you, Frau, or that you “could care less”. What an odd statement!

        I have butted heads with you before, in comments sections and I know that you are strong and opinionated and a tad bitter. I’m sure I have just as many years on the job as you, probably more, and I also have played for legions of conductors of all stripes. Mutual respect here is the key. Thanks and best wishes to you.

        • Anon says:

          You are, I guess from your writing, British or American. Frau Geigerin, I guess from her writing and user name, is German or Austrian.

          The Germans and Austrians have a *very* different idea of what respectful behaviour is than the British or Americans. In my (non-musical) professional context I had what I considered an incredibly rude tirade from a close German colleague, who I thought I had a good relationship with. So did she, and she thought she was being very polite.

        • Musicman says:

          Intonation is NOT subjective! You are either playing in tune or out of tune! Those who want to make it subjective are just looking for excuses for playing out of tune!

          • Anon says:

            Sorry but it definitely is subjective. There are too many variables.

            In tune with what? Yourself, a tuner, your section, the 2nd bassoon, the concertmaster, the 3rd trumpet? Intonation is a group endeavor and it takes a lot of collaboration. It’s never a given.

            You can be playing a chord with a tuner on the stand in front of you perfectly “in tune” by machine standards, but someone feels the 3rd of the chord should be slightly higher. They will tell you this. It’s a subjective judgement, an artistic choice to improve the voicing and balance. You adjust to that. You always adjust. There is no right or wrong. It’s never black and white.

            If it were not subjective, we’d all just play with tuners on our stands and that would be that. Trust me, it’s very subjective.

        • FrauGeigerin says:

          That’s the difference between you and I: I discuss the topic, and explain why I have my opinions only. You like to write about me, questioning my credentials and experience, and qualify me (“bitter”, “opinionated”). Your argumentation ‘ad hominem’ does not interest me. Best wishes to you too.

      • Bruce says:

        One thing is for sure, this lady is obsessed about conductors, about evaluating what conductors do and probably not being that critical with herself or her orchestra.
        And probably not a real music lover either..
        I would be very curious to see her list of tips for orchestral players.

      • Hayne says:

        In my experience, if a conductor is nice and respectful, the orchestra tends to “help” him/her despite possible limitations. If the conductor has talent, this can really push their career. This should not be overlooked by young conductors.

    • Giora says:

      Well, even top tier orchestras have mediocre chief conductors these days… see New York Phil 😉

    • JP says:

      Do you feel better getting that off your chest? Look forward to reading your list of additional suggestions.

    • minacciosa says:

      I’ve played in top-tier orchestras and have repeatedly seen from very famous conductors exactly what the writer observed. The best conductors and the most promising avoid these pitfalls. However, it can take time to learn and the conducting business is an unforgiving one. Falling into any of these holes can often serve to preclude re-invitation and even tempt admins to judge and characterize an entire career from a single appearance.

      • Saxon says:

        Bernstein always spent a lot of time talking, and almost invariably ran over the agreed rehearsal time…

    • BRUCEB says:

      (a) FrauGeigerin makes it clear she is not talking only about conductors who conduct her current orchestra. She’s talking about conductor behaviors she’s observed at different stages of the profession, from youth orchestras to wherever she plays now. She’s not giving suggestions only for “when you conduct in Dresden or Munich” but what to learn before you get there.

      (b) repeating things over & over again is not done only in youth orchestras; it’s also done by conductors who don’t have an idea of what they want.

      (c) I wish someone would correct the intonation of the woodwinds in many Vienna Philharmonic recordings. On the one hand I doubt they played out of tune on purpose for Leonard Bernstein, but on the other hand they mostly played beautifully in tune for Karajan and Kleiber; it makes me wonder what exactly was the story there. The Chicago Symphony under Barenboim also has noticeable woodwind intonation lapses where they never did under Solti. It makes me wonder if certain famous conductors actually do correct woodwind intonation, or if they are able to give a laser-beam look to persons who are playing out of tune that makes them pull their act together, or what.

      (d) Big-time orchestras actually do play under young, inexperienced conductors now and then. We recently had a conductor search and one of the candidates in a Q&A session talked about “when I conducted the Chicago Symphony” or “when I conducted the Detroit Symphony.” Not in a preening way, necessarily — it was for children’s concerts in both cases — but of course everyone in the room knew it was an impressive thing to have on one’s resume. In any case, purposely or not, the candidate made it clear that the musicians were not especially impressed — and the person did not mention having been invited back.

      (e) In the US, conductors are simply not allowed to go into overtime without the management’s agreement, and within the rules of the orchestra’s master agreement. That may not be the case in other parts of the world. (I have a colleague who has stories from his time in Mexico where the power-mad conductor once held a 6-hour rehearsal without advance notice. He wouldn’t tell anyone when the rehearsal was going to end; the people who packed up & left before he gave his permission were all fired, and there were new people in those chairs at the next rehearsal. Not “professional” behavior by any stretch of the imagination, but… it’s out there. This would have been in the early 2000’s. And just recently on this site — https://slippedisc.com/2021/06/conductor-kicks-out-his-biggest-donors/ — we’ve seen how conductors can abuse their power at a lower level of the profession.)

      (f) Big orchestras are not necessarily “careful” about how they choose their guests. Many years ago I went to audition for the Boston Symphony. Of course I was eliminated immediately, but I went to the concert that night courtesy of my host, who was actually a member of the BSO and someone I’d gone to school with. I met her backstage afterwards amid the general hubbub and conversation. The new music director of my orchestra had been an assistant conductor at her previous job. Someone in the administration overheard her ask how he was doing there, and stopped. “Is this someone we can invite for a concert?” (I forget what kind of gig he had in mind.) She considered a moment. “Meh, not really — he’s boring.”

      “Oh, boring is not a problem. We can do boring,” said the administrator. My friend had to be a little more forceful in her assessment to put the administrator off the scent. My point being, they were not super concerned about getting only the crème-de-la-crème; they just needed a warm body to plug into that slot in the calendar, and were willing to do that. If my friend had said “sure, why not — do what you want” then this conductor would, most likely, have the Boston Symphony on his résumé.

      • Derek H says:

        Relevant to your point on rehearsals.

        Around 1986/87 I went to a rehearsal by the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein, at what was then Avery Fisher Hall.

        The work was Tchaikovsky’s 5th and it went well until near the end. A Concert manager came on stage and announced that the rehearsal time was over. Leonard Bernstein threw a tantrum saying he only needed a few more minutes.

        The manager was unmoved, Lenny grabbed his sweater, wrapped it around his shoulders with a flourish and stomped off stage!
        I always thought he knew how to make an entrance but was surprised by his exit!

        • Anon says:

          Yeah, I’ve seen the exact same thing happen with Barenboim. Some conductors, when they reach a high level of fame, assume they are above union rules and the musicians’ comfort. It’s never the case.

          • Saxon says:

            It is mainly US orchestras who end the rehearsal strictly on time. In Europe it isn’t always so.

  • Gustav Mahler says:

    Very good! One little correction: Karajan had very open eyes and ears in rehearsals. He was very good rehearsing with orchestras. So being prepared he could close his eyes in concerts.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Good advice. The excessive talking that some indulge in is completely counter-productive and drives musicians nuts, especially when they have played a particular piece many more times than the tyro waggling his fingers at them. It’s a pity that not more young conductors also heed the advice to match the body language to the notes. A recent performance of Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs was completely ruined for me by the conductor who insisted on waving his arms around like windmills during “Beim Schlafengegen”, while his soloist stood perfectly still. This conductor, I might add, has been catapulted into the front line well ahead of his time. But, as has frequently been remarked, musical sensitivity is seen as entirely secondary to other considerations.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Good points. Depends on the level of the orchestra, and the amount of time they play together, number of rehearsals, etc. It is like chamber music, everyone works together and learns together – even the music director. We all hear things we haven’t heard before. Being a music director is like being the head of any corporation or organization. Know your staff, be educated, treat everyone with respect. Add to what they already know, because it is futile to change. Becoming a music director is like a new yellow brick road. Follow it together.

  • Patrick says:

    And I have advice for orchestras:

    Practice before rehearsal.
    And shut up.

    • Blueclarinet says:

      And I have advice for readers of SD who have nothing intelligent to say.

      Don’t waste everyone’s time with your silly comments and get a life.

  • Robert Houlihan says:

    Just read Pierre Monteux’s ’12 don’ts’ for conductors .

  • Lorenzo says:

    What does she know about Karajan and conductors after all?
    She is just not enjoying playing in an orchestra and acts like the “conductors guru”

  • M McAlpine says:

    That could have come out of Sir Adrian Bolt’s book on conducting which all young conductors should read!

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I no longer recall who the orchestral musician was who wrote that his entire orchestra, perhaps Boston?, was especially impressed with guest conductor Josef Krips (a name you hardly hear of any longer) because he didn’t need to stop to make his points or a correction. He’d say what needed to be said but kept conducting. Relatively few conductors seem to engage in this form of multi tasking. Of course if it is a point that requires every stand to mark up their part with a pencil you might as well stop anyway, although listening to the famous recording of Beecham rehearsing it appears that he would mark up things in his score and expect an orchestra librarian to take note of that and have the parts reflect it (“I’ve marked it in for you.”). Perhaps I am misinterpreting what I hear on that disc.

    I’m also reminded of a member of the Chicago Symphony who, when told by (I assume) Solti that they’d made some error or another (wrong entrance, note value, perhaps wrong note) quietly said “I heard it too, Maestro.”

  • J Barcelo says:

    Can I add one?

    19) LOVE THE MUSIC. Know it backwards and forwards. Listen to different recordings so you have some connection with tradition and experience. There is nothing more depressing than being led by a conductor who doesn’t know the music or the performance history and why some things are played the way they are.

  • Couperin says:

    I’ve played in professional orchestras, training orchestras, music festivals and Broadway pit bands too! My conductor advice is:
    – Don’t say “I never lose MY flute, it’s always attached to me!” (Alan Gilbert)
    – Don’t let your spittle hit the first violins
    – Make sure people play rhythms correctly by constantly dragging the tempo back and then tell the orchestra they are rushing
    – Keep asking everyone what time it is instead of having a watch

  • Franz says:

    Essential tips for long tenured orchestra players

    1. Do not assume that just because you played a piece 20 times that you actually know the score better than someone who has actually studied it.
    2. You are a fully educated, well versed professional musician who has decided to play in an ensemble with other fully educated, well versed professional musicians. Even though you may not agree with your instrumental colleagues and conductors, you are still learning.
    3. You like to call your conductors “Maestro”. That means teacher. We are all still learning.
    4. Do not assume that conductors can show everything with their hands, and eyes. There may be some concepts you are not used to which have to be explained with words.
    5. Do not go on and on about how you love Mahler and then don’t practice (strings).
    6. You don’t know everything and neither do we.
    7. If it doesn’t go the way you played it last time, or on your favorite recording, there is either a good reasons for that, or a bad one. Do not assume it is always bad, just because it’s different from your concept. Be able to back up your dissatisfaction with strong musical evidence or reasoning- otherwise, get used to another valid approach. As artists you should want to try things differently. Doing it the same way every time perpetuates stagnation, is not healthy, and contributes to unhappiness.
    8. If your curiosity and excitement for learning has waned, and you do not play as if your life depended on it, please leave the orchestra.
    9. If you do not approve of conductors who jump around and show off and are into their own vanity, then stop responding to them.
    10. Do not make prejudgements about conductor based on the way they walk out onto the podium for the first time.
    11. Do not assume that just because a conductor has an accent or fancy hair that they are better at their job than anyone else.
    12. If you want us to go step by step in our careers, then allow us to do just that: do not assume that if we have a youth orchestra job or college job that we can’t move up. And, stop accepting those who skip all these steps. You are doing thing to yourselves!
    13. Stop saying how great the Berlin Philharmonic is while refusing or ignoring to do what you need to do to play on that level.

  • Excellent advice, all practical and true.

  • Heini says:

    Seeing as there’s a picture of Kleiber heading this thread it’s worth pointing out to aspiring conductors that he often finished 3 hour rehearsals after 2 hours, at least in my experience playing for him. Once he had achieved what he had planned for that rehearsal he didn’t go on and on to the bitter end just for the sake of using the time. Finishing even 5 or 10 minutes early gets the orchestra on your side, even earlier would be even better psychology!
    Also, my advice would be, don’t get involved in woodwind intonation, the players will know if something is out of tune and will be trying to correct it. The conductor can’t correct it, he’s not playing the instrument.

    • Bone says:

      Wish you could share more stories of Kleiber and the other greats. What a fortunate musical life you’ve led!

    • BRUCEB says:

      Regarding your last paragraph: the woodwinds probably want to correct the problem; they may not be able to correct it. When things have gone haywire, it can be hard to tell who to team up with to try to establish a common center. My principal oboist and I try to do this, in the hopes that if anyone is searching, we’ll at least be able to provide some sort of lifeboat. Sometimes it works.

  • Conductor from La vecchia scuola says:

    When I was very young I tried to learn as many instruments as possible, and played in some orchestras. Without revealing it all, it was about 12 years as a professional, in more than one instrument…three keyboards with different techniques, and viola and violin….
    For all the good, precise, smart commenting on what to do and how to do it, all given to young conductors, I would say that one should never overestimate his/her capacity to play his/her line in an orchestra, even if that is done for many years, in comparison to somebody that has to understand, study, and memorize many lines, make his/her own balance in his head, and help his/her interpretations with playing his/her instrument for many hours per day, listening to the big old guys doing it wonderfully well, and also trying to understand and learn so much about mutual respect with the musicians. Knowing your entire score in your head.

    And that is only the beginning of our profession….there is much much more than those few statements…

    I find odd to see the readiness to give several advises, ideas, nuances, tips, and a long etcetera, and, still some writers say they have never hold a baton… It would be interesting to know what would their opinions be after thoroughly studying several symphonies and getting the experience to have to lead them with all types of orchestras, from bottom to top tier ones, and try to smile while all types of powers come and go deciding if you get the job. No matter what, how many auditions for MD jobs exist in this world? how could one exhibit the proof that choices for the next guest conductor are based on music making? the profession for young conductors is very very very hard. Music making is much harder, almost an impossible quest, just to understand deeply the great repertoire written by the great masters. It might seem simple to give opinions, and many of them seem very good! but only few great colleagues may have great answers and advises for young conductors….

    • SVM says:

      Why are you assuming that orchestral players have not studied the scores “thoroughly”? How do you know that they have not done so? How do you explain that so many good conductors have prior experience as orchestral players?

  • Monsoon says:

    How about sending any annotations to the score you have to the orchestra librarian ahead of the first rehearsal — and early enough that musicians have them when rehearsing on their own. (Mackerras, for example, was able to run extremely efficient rehearsal by sending orchestras his own annotated copies of scores from his massive library.)

    • Herr Kzm*nn says:

      Excellent Advice

    • Anon says:

      Yes, a lot of top conductors with their own libraries do this. In theory, it’s a good idea, but personally I am not a fan.

      The pitfalls are that unless the conductor has his name printed on the top of every part, players don’t know if the part they have is from that conductor or just a random part. That has to be really clear.

      I’ve also seen conductors eager to put bowings in parts, which is great, but then send those parts just for strings while winds get a different edition. Different rehearsal nos., everything. It’s a complete disaster & causes lost time in rehearsals straightening it out.

      A very big issue is that while conductors keep a library of parts, editions are constantly updated. So many times, the marked parts you get from a conductor are on an outdated edition.

      I am someone who keeps my own library of copies of my own parts. When we’re doing standard rep at a fast pace, I pull out the part I already have. It saves work for the librarian and for me. A lot of info I need is on that part.

      If a conductor sends their own parts 1. many times I don’t know about it til the 1st day of reh when it appears on my stand, which is too late; and 2. I have to copy all of my own notations – info I need to play my part which is specific to my instrument – onto a copy of the new the conductor has provided. I do this a lot, but conductors should be aware that while it may save time for them, it can be a major time suck for individual players who prefer to use their own parts.

      I could be in the minority on this, but this is my personal experience.

  • minacciosa says:

    It is an odd thing about the conducting business: when one is up and coming, it is icily unforgiving of error; when one becomes established and acquires fame, the éminence grises are extremely forgiving and understanding of even egregious professional failings.

  • fflambeau says:

    There’s a famous clip on YouTube with a trumpet player from the BBC questioning the tempo set by Leonard Bernstein for his BBC orchestra recording of the Nimrod variation. In my opinion, the trumpet player made an ass of himself by saying he had performed the piece many times and this was not the usual tempo; Bernstein surely knew that and the trumpet player didn’t seem to get what he was aiming at. My take from this: even if you have played something many times before, don’t criticize a conductor who is looking to do something radically different.

  • ‘The cult of personality’ just about sums up the current mess that is ‘classical’ music. It’s conductors this and conductors that,whose leaving what orchestra,whose joining what orchestra,whose earning the most etc,etc.