conducting

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conducting,

in music, the art of unifying the efforts of a number of musicians simultaneously engaged in musical performance. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance the conductor was primarily a time beater, maintaining the measure or tactus of polyphonic music with his hand or a roll of music paper. During the baroque era the harpsichordist, playing the basso continuo, was the conductor. When the continuo disappeared, the first violinist, even today called concertmaster, became the leader or shared the function with a keyboard player. A few 18th-century conductors, such as Johann StamitzStamitz, Johann
, 1717–57, Bohemian-German composer. Stamitz came to Mannheim (1741) and became (1745) concertmaster of the Mannheim orchestra. He made it the best in Europe.
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 of the Mannheim orchestra, achieved a high standard of performance. The custom of beating time with a stick (baton) on a music stand or table originated in France. This noisy practice was irritating to the listener. It actually caused the death of the composer LullyLully, Jean Baptiste
, 1632–87, French operatic composer, b. Florence, Italy. His name originally was Giovanni Battista Lulli. A self-taught violinist, he went to France in 1646 and in 1652 entered the service of Louis XIV.
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 who struck his own foot with his baton, resulting in an abscess that killed him. The beating technique was altered and a more subtle manner was used by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Spohr. Berlioz, in his treatise on instrumentation and Wagner, in his classic treatise Über das Dirigieren [concerning directing], laid down the principles of modern conducting; and under the latter's influence Hans von BülowBülow, Hans Guido, Freiherr von
, 1830–94, German pianist and conductor. After hearing Wagner's Lohengrin in 1850 at Weimar under Liszt's direction, he studied piano with Liszt and later conducted the premieres of several of Wagner's operas.
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 became the first of the virtuoso conductors. A generally conventional set of gestures is used for beating time, a downstroke marking the beginning of a measure. The baton remains popular although a few conductors, notably StokowskiStokowski, Leopold
, 1882–1977, American conductor, b. London. Stokowski studied in England and at the Paris Conservatory. He was organist and choirmaster at St. Bartholomew's Church, New York City (1905–8), and was conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony
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, prefer not to use it. Modern conducting is highly individual and requires great musical understanding, a thorough knowledge of instruments and of the concert repertory, a clear mastery of the baton and hand gestures, and a human sympathy for the performers.

Bibliography

See A. C. Boult, A Handbook on the Technique of Conducting (7th ed. 1951); C. Bamberger, The Conductor's Art (1965); H. C. Schonberg, The Great Conductors (1967).

Conducting

 

one of the types of musical performing art, which involves directing a group of musicians (orchestra, choir, ensemble, or opera or ballet company) in the preparation and public performance of a musical work. Conducting is done by a conductor, who ensures order and technical mastery in the performance of the ensemble and endeavors to impart to the ensemble his own artistic approach and understanding of a given work.

The art of conducting is based on a specially developed system of manual motions. The conductor’s face—his look and expressions—also plays an important role in conducting. Training in music theory, a good ear, and a fine musical memory as well as an active, purposeful will are all expected of the modern conductor.

The art of conducting originated in ancient times. During the early stages of the development of choral folk singing, conducting was done by the lead voice. In ancient Egypt and Greece and in the Middle Ages, religious choirs were often led by a method of conducting called chironomy, a system of conventional manual motions. In the 15th century, with the increased complexity of polyphony, the development of orchestral playing, and the resulting need for more precise rhythmic organization of the ensemble, conductors began to use a battuta (Italian, stick) “to beat time.”

With the establishment of the figured bass in the 17th and 18th centuries, the musician who played from the figured bass on the harpsichord or organ (usually the composer of the piece) began also to conduct by his very playing, as well as by using his eyes, head, and a finger to give directions or by tapping out the rhythm with his foot. In the 18th century the first violinist (concertmaster) became more important in the ensemble. By his performance the concertmaster helped the conductor to manage the ensemble, and occasionally he would stop playing and use his bow as a battuta. This practice led to the emergence of so-called dual conducting. In some instances, as many as five conductors were used in the performance of major vocal-instrumental works.

Beginning in the second half of the 18th century, with the decline of the figured bass, the violinist-concertmaster gradually became the sole leader of the ensemble. Well into the 19th century this method of conducting was still used in ballroom and garden orchestras and small ensembles. It has sometimes been used in the 20th century in the performance of music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

From the beginning of the 19th century the development of symphonic music and the expansion and increasing complexity of the orchestra’s makeup necessitated the liberation of the conductor from participation in the general ensemble and the devotion of all his attention to conducting. Gradually a baton began to be used instead of the bow. G. Mosel (1812, Vienna), C. M. von Weber (1817, Dresden), and L. Spohr (1817, Frankfurt am Main) were the first to use the baton in their work.

Wagner, Beethoven, and Berlioz were the founders of modern conducting. It was Wagner who initiated a practice that became standard: the conductor, who had previously stood behind the podium and faced the public, now turned his back to the public. This change allowed closer contact between the conductor and the orchestra players. Gradually there appeared the modern conductor-performer, in contrast to the conductor-composer. H. von Bülow was the first conductor-performer to win international recognition. H. Richter and A. Nikisch (Hungary), F. Mottl, F. Weingartner, and R. Strauss (Germany), and G. Mahler (Austria) were among the outstanding foreign masters of the art of conducting from the turn of the century. In subsequent decades A. Toscanini (Italy), B. Walter, W. Furtwängler, and O. Klemperer (German Democratic Republic), and C. Munch (France) displayed their mastery.

In Russia until the 18th century conducting was associated primarily with choral singing. Serf musicians were the first Russian orchestral conductors. I. E. Khandoshkin and V. A. Pashkevich are the best-known 18th-century conductors. M. A. Balakirev, A. G. Rubinstein, and N. G. Rubinstein were the greatest modern conductors of the second half of the 19th century, and E. F. Napravnik holds an important place in the history of conducting in Russia. V. I. Safonov, S. V. Rachmaninoff, and S. A. Koussevitsky were prominent at the beginning of the 20th century, and the talent of N. S. Golovanov, A. M. Pazovskii, S. A. Samosud, and V. I. Suk flowered in the early post-revolutionary years. After the October Revolution special courses in operatic-symphonic and choral conducting were introduced in the conservatories.

The First All-Union Conductors’ Competition, which was held in 1938, demonstrated the success of the Soviet school of conducting, whose leading representatives include E. A. Mravinskii, A. Sh. Melik-Pashaev, K. K. Ivanov, N. G. Rakhlin, and M. I. Paverman.

In choral conducting graduates of Soviet conservatories, including G. A. Dmitrievskii, K. B. Ptitsa, V. G. Sokolov, and A. A. Iurlov, have successfully carried on traditions established by outstanding masters who belonged to the prerevolutionary choral school, including A. D. Kastal’skii, P. G. Chesnokov, A. V. Nikol’skii, N. M. Danilin, A. V. Aleksandrov, and A. V. Sveshnikov.

REFERENCES

Wagner, R. O dirizhirovanii. St. Petersburg, 1900. (Translated from German.)
Berlioz, H. Dirizher orkestra, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1912. (Translated from French.)
Glinskii, M. “Ocherki po istorii dirizherskogo iskusstva.” Muzykal’nyi sovremennik, 1916, book 3.
Weingartner, F. O dirizhirovanii. Leningrad, 1927. (Translated from German.)
Timofeev, Iu. Rukovodstvo dlia nachinaiushchego dirizhera, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1935.
Ptitsa, K. Ocherki po tekhnike dirizhirovaniia khorom. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Mal’ko, N. Osnovy tekhniki dirizhirovaniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Musin, I. Tekhnika dirizhirovaniia. Leningrad, 1967.
Schunemann, G. Geschichte des Dirigierens, 2nd ed. Wiesbaden, 1965.

E. IA. RATSER

References in classic literature ?
For it occurred to me that I should find much more truth in the reasonings of each individual with reference to the affairs in which he is personally interested, and the issue of which must presently punish him if he has judged amiss, than in those conducted by a man of letters in his study, regarding speculative matters that are of no practical moment, and followed by no consequences to himself, farther, perhaps, than that they foster his vanity the better the more remote they are from common sense; requiring, as they must in this case, the exercise of greater ingenuity and art to render them probable.
I did not see the prisoner again for several days subsequent to our first encounter, and then only to catch a fleeting glimpse of her as she was being conducted to the great audience chamber where I had had my first meeting with Lorquas Ptomel.
At the end of a quarter of an hour, however, surprised at the length of the journey, she leaned forward toward the door to see whither she was being conducted.
The facts, however, will prove to be linked and banded together by one grand scheme, devised and conducted by a master spirit; one set of characters, also, continues throughout, appearing occasionally, though sometimes at long intervals, and the whole enterprise winds up by a regular catastrophe; so that the work, without any labored attempt at artificial construction, actually possesses much of that unity so much sought after in works of fiction, and considered so important to the interest of every history.
These, then, are the methods in which public business is conducted in a democracy.
Four days before, sentinels of the Preobrazhensk regiment had stood in front of the house to which Balashev was conducted, and now two French grenadiers stood there in blue uniforms unfastened in front and with shaggy caps on their heads, and an escort of hussars and Uhlans and a brilliant suite of aides-de-camp, pages, and generals, who were waiting for Napoleon to come out, were standing at the porch, round his saddle horse and his Mameluke, Rustan.
Unlike the first building into which she had been conducted, the entrance to which had been doorless, massive doors closed the entrance which she now approached.
As she was conducted up the stairway one of these yellow-coated warriors approached and halted her guides at the top of the steps.
These conducted her through the doorway which the blacks, pulling upon heavy chains, closed behind them.
It was fully fifteen minutes before he returned, when the guard was again changed and the girl conducted into the chamber beyond.
Through three other chambers and past three more massive doors, at each of which her guard was changed, the girl was conducted before she was ushered into a comparatively small room, back and forth across the floor of which paced a man in a scarlet tunic, upon the front and back of which was embroidered an enormous parrot and upon whose head was a barbaric headdress surmounted by a stuffed parrot.
For several minutes after she was conducted into his presence he appeared not to be aware that she was there but continued his restless pacing to and fro.