Leonard Bernstein about the Art of Conducting


“Mendelssohn . . . founded a tradition of conducting based on the concept of precision. . . . There soon arrived, however, a great dissenter named Richard Wagner, who declared . . . that any conductor worth his salt should personalize the score he was conducting by coloring it with his own emotions . . . . Mendelssohn fathered the ‘elegant’ school, whereas Wagner inspired the ‘passionate’ school of conducting.

“The ideal modern conductor is a synthesis of the two attitudes, and this synthesis is rarely achieved. In fact, it’s practically impossible. Almost any musician can be a conductor, even a pretty good one; but only a rare musician can be a great one.”

Leonard Bernstein. “The Art of Conducting” (1955).


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