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Thread: Meanest conductor ever?

  1. #46
    Senior Member helenora's Avatar
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    good, I've stumbled upon this thread, it's fun to read all those stories about crazy conductor's behavior.
    Man muss das Leben tanzen

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  3. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by helenora View Post
    good, I've stumbled upon this thread, it's fun to read all those stories about crazy conductor's behavior.
    There are many Reiner and Szell stories, Toscanini, Rodznski, Koussevitsky - all of them - musicians love to b*tch about conductors...
    a famous Reiner story features his conducting technique - Fritz was famous for a reserved stick technique, and often used a very small beat - lots of reasons for this - one is that it requires the rapt attention of the musicians - a good thing, overall...anyway, Reiner was using a very small beat pattern, and one musician, half in jest, took out a spyglass/telescope to better see the tiny beat pattern - as in <<Haha - your beat is so small I need a microscope to see it>> Reiner, of course saw everything, and responded - he wrote a tiny note on a card and held it in his hand, directed at the ocularly-enhanced musician - the guy looked thru his spyglass to read the writing on the note - "You're Fired!!"

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  5. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaneyes View Post
    Now wait a second, here! Sure, I'm a son of a b*tch, but I'm not a conductor.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jul-16-2017 at 01:08.

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  7. #49
    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    The meanest I know:

    Last edited by jurianbai; Jul-16-2017 at 02:00.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    With orchestras now more democratically mixed with men and women, the result of mostly blind auditions behind screens, I doubt if there will ever be the return of the true tyrants of genius conductors. I doubt if the women would put up with it.

    Fortunately, I'm still able to hear excellent orchestra performances, and it sounds to me that orchestras can get great results without the brow beaters and the egocentric and selfish personal abusers. But I have to admit that I did like many of their results and the chance for the musicians to a rise to an ungodly level of transcendent performances. Sometimes musicians just don't know how good they can be until they're challenged by the high and the mighty at the risk of being fired if they don't rise to the occasion. I suspect those nasty-tempered tyrants most likely preferred to be feared rather than loved.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jul-16-2017 at 11:54.

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  11. #51
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    Conductor egos could occasionally be used to deliver amazing performances. When Szell was recording the Tchaikovsky 4th for Decca in 1962, his producer was the inimitable John Culshaw. In his autobiography Culshaw said that when Szell came back to the recording room to hear the take of the last movement, Culshaw adjusted the controls to make the recording sound rather bland. A furious Szell went back to the LSO band and vented his fury, resulting in one of the most volcanic versions of the last movement ever recorded.

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  13. #52
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    Another story from that famous first rehearsal with the CSO: Reiner introduced himself by saying that at the close of the session some members of the orchestra would need to look for other jobs. As two of them staggered out at the end, one said to another, 'Not much of a conductor, but what a nice guy.'

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  15. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    With orchestras now more democratically mixed with men and women, the result of mostly blind auditions behind screens, I doubt if there will ever be the return of the true tyrants of genius conductors. I doubt if the women would put up with it.
    It's not the gender equality which changed it - it's the rise of the Musicians' Union, and contracted hiring/firing procedures that changed the scene...conductors can no longer just summarily fire a musician on the spot - there is a prescribed contract procedure for termination. There are also provisions against personal harassment or intimidation of musicians...
    A conductor can still terminate a musician, but the process is much longer, involved, and may run into legal entanglements. sometimes, the orchestra will just "buy out" the targeted musician's contract - pay him/her to not show up....they pay his contract $$ until the agreement expires, but he/she no longer plays...

    You're right, tho - the legendary podium tyrants motivated by fear to a large degree. They weren't interested in popularity contests..even there, tho - the stories abound -

    Reiner, when confronted by a journalist that he probably wouldn't win any popularity contests amongst musicians - replied:
    <<Not everybody hated me, just the BAD musicians!!>>
    Last edited by Heck148; Jul-16-2017 at 16:43.

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  17. #54
    Senior Member geralmar's Avatar
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    Many years ago I read a book on conductors (author and title sadly forgotten) which reported that during one of his rages Toscanini hurled his baton at an offending musician (or was it shattered his baton on the stand sending splinters towards the offender?) striking him in the eye for which Toscanini had to pay continual compensation.

    Apparently Ormandy's final years with the Philadelphia Orchestra musicians were quite acrimonious. I hope this is apocryphal, but not long after he retired the Orchestra was on tour when an administrator on the tour bus solemnly announced to the musicians that word had just arrived that Ormandy was dead. From the back of the bus came the shout, "Not enough!".
    Last edited by geralmar; Jul-22-2017 at 16:35.

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  19. #55
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jurianbai View Post
    The meanest I know:

    J.K. Simmons is all too convincing as the ferociously nasty conductor in Whiplash in part because he actually has a background and training as a musician, eventually turning from music to musical theater and then to theater.

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