The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power

Overview

Nearly ten years after its original publication, The Maestro Myth continues to enthrall readers with its insightful look into the lives and careers of the world's most celebrated conductors. Now updated and including two new chapters, this volume portrays the politics and inflated economics surrounding the podiums of today's international classical music scene, and the obstacles faced by blacks, women, and gays. From Richard Strauss to Herbert von Karajan to Leonard Bernstein to Simon Rattle, The Maesto Myth ...
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Overview

Nearly ten years after its original publication, The Maestro Myth continues to enthrall readers with its insightful look into the lives and careers of the world's most celebrated conductors. Now updated and including two new chapters, this volume portrays the politics and inflated economics surrounding the podiums of today's international classical music scene, and the obstacles faced by blacks, women, and gays. From Richard Strauss to Herbert von Karajan to Leonard Bernstein to Simon Rattle, The Maesto Myth examines the world of classical music and the mounting crisis in a profession where genuine talent grows ever scarcer. It is a must-have resource for music aficiionados as well as anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes lives of these music masters.

Examining the nature of the orchestra conductor, The Maestro Myth is a vigorous analysis of musical ambition and achievement. Acclaimed by critics, this refreshingly iconoclastic history of a profession which has all too often been the object of sycophantic reverence, is also a chronicle of individual endeavor and ambition. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite the hokey title, this is the liveliest, most penetrating and best researched book on the nature of the orchestra conductor, and on many of the best-known past and current practitioners of that arcane art, to have appeared in years. Lebrecht, a London music critic, traces the growth of conductors from the 19th century, when increasingly complex works began to require a central organizing figure, to today's jet-set superstars with their fickle loyalties and fat recording contracts. Lebrecht reveals what top conductors earn: many times what even their best players do, and rising rapidly. The author is harsh on some idols, particularly Toscanini and Bruno Walter, melancholic about burnout cases like Andre Previn and Klaus Tennstedt and acutely aware of the dearth of present conductors with the musical culture or audience impact of past masters. Among contemporary conductors only England's Simon Rattle in Birmingham seems to gain his entire approval. The book can be enjoyed on many levels: as an acute history of conducting, as a study in conductorial psychology, as a text on the economics of the classical music business, as a collection of delightfully gossipy but not malevolent anecdotes and as the best guide to today's concert music scene--including the ``authentic'' revival--now available. Photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal
The maestro's traditionally god-like aura is shattered by Lebrecht's candid depictions of personalities, performance practices, and quests for power. Beginning with biblical chorus leaders, Lebrecht traces the conductor's evolution to such figures as Hans von Bulow, Arthur Nikisch, Arturo Toscanini, and Herbert von Karajan, and finally to modern global stars including Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein. Challenging questions are posed as to whether celebrity status supersedes the requirement for special musical talent within the profession. Lebrecht has done formidable research and presents his often startling conclusions with gusto while examining social, historical, political, and personal facets of the maestro's role. Of particular interest are stories of individual careers during the rise and fall of Nazism. Live concerts will never be the same for readers of this book. For circulating libraries specializing in music.-- Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, N.J.
From Barnes & Noble
Traces the rise of the orchestra conductor--from Blow, Richter, & Nikisch in the 19th century to such modern masters of the musical media as Herbert von Karajan, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, & Riccardo Muti. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765410795
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/28/1992
  • Pages: 380

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Making of a Myth 1
1 The Tears of a Clown: The composer as conductor; the personal tragedy of Hans von Bulow 12
2 Honest Hans and the Magician: Nikisch and Richter 30
3 Masters of the House: Mahler and Strauss; Walter, Klemperer and Krauss 43
4 Facing the Dictators: Toscanini v Furtwangler; Szell, Reiner and the Soviet system 66
5 The Karajan Case: Karajan, Knappertsbusch and Bohm 98
6 'A Starving Population and an Absentee Aristocracy': Koussevitsky to Ozawa; Stokowski, showbiz and Previn 132
7 The Gremlin in the Garden: Beecham v Barbirolli; Kubelik; Solti, Colin Davis and Haitink 154
8 Collapse of the Conducting Composer: Bernstein and Boulez 177
9 Strange Tales from the Vienna Woods: Bernstein, Maazel and Levine 193
10 Formula Uno: Abbado, Muti and Sinopoli, Chailly 213
11 The Mavericks: Horenstein, Celibidache, two Kleibers and Tennstedt 231
12 Insider Dealing: Mehta, Barenboim and the Kosher nostra 243
13 Left Outside: Gays, women, blacks 258
14 The Search for a Semi-Conductor: Marriner, Munrow, Hogwood and early music 272
15 Where Have All the Conductors Gone? The bare future: Rattle, Salonen and Welser-Most 286
16 The Master of Them All? Ronald Wilford and the millionaire conductor 304
Appendix: Conductors and their Careers 329
Notes 343
Acknowledgements 359
Source List and Bibliography 361
Index 370
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