Tag Archives | Howard Goodall

Why Don’t Conducting Books Talk About The Music?

Riccardo_MutiWell, actually, some do.  I am reminded of Riccardo Muti’s truly insightful commentary in a podcast he did with British music journalist, Norman Lebrecht, in September 2011 (worth tracking down if it is still available on the BBC) wherein the maestro laments the prediliction in the USA toward training aspiring conductors how to ‘conduct the music’ as opposed to how to ‘study the music’.  I’m paraphrasing, but in essence this is the point he makes.

I am reminded of this as I have just finished reading several recently published new books on conducting by American conductors.  One was largely a memoir which I found mostly disingenuous; far too preoccupied with lauding the virtues of a much better known American conductor, and the other, offering an alternative approach to technical aspects of conducting distilled through the concept of ‘beauty’ in music.  The latter book has one or two genuine insights in what otherwise is a slim volume with little to offer.  Worse however than its over concision, is that some of what is espoused in respect to the physics pertaining to gestural motion in orchestral conducting technique is plain wrong. Continue Reading →