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Thread: Famous conductors/instruments

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Famous conductors/instruments

    A while back, I recognized that the primary instrument of famous (and probably not so famous) conductors is the piano. There are more examples of this than can easily be summarized: Solti, Karajan, Bernstein, Barenboim, Eschenbach, Previn [etc., etc., etc.].

    However, after we move on from piano, what are the next most well-represented instruments amongst prominent conductors? Eugene Ormandy and Neville Marriner were violinists. Frederick Stock is not the only violist to ascend to the podium, Toscanini (I seem to recall) was a cellist, and Leopold Stokowski played pipe organ. Would anyone care to contribute other examples of this? How do you feel about Ormandy's contention that you can sense former pianists' "percussiveness" in their conducting?

    P.S.: Not to slight the accomplishments of Ashkenazy or Zukerman, but I would prefer to keep this conversation in the direction of those musicians who achieved their greatest fame as conductors.
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    Karajan was also a (part-time) pianist!

    Pinnock with the Harpsichord

    Mozart and Beethoven.

    P.S.: Not to slight the accomplishments of Ashkenazy or Zukerman, but I would prefer to keep this conversation in the direction of those musicians who achieved their greatest fame as conductors.
    So I guess Slava is out.
    Menuhin and his Bath Festival Orchestra
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    fritz reiner, timps
    gerard schwarz, trumpet

    dj

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opus67 View Post
    Karajan was also a (part-time) pianist!
    Quote Originally Posted by Chi_town/Philly View Post
    There are more examples of this than can easily be summarized: Solti, Karajan (emphasis added)...
    I must've stuttered (just kidding )
    Quote Originally Posted by david johnson View Post
    fritz reiner, timps
    I did not know that! Good add.
    Quote Originally Posted by david johnson View Post
    gerard schwartz, trumpet
    I knew that, but escaped my initial net. Another righteous add.

    The next wave of research showed that we can add Bernard Haitink to the "violin" column. I knew that Stock couldn't have been the only violist. He is hereby joined by Carlo-Maria Giulini.
    Quote Originally Posted by opus67 View Post
    So I guess Slava is out.
    Menuhin and his Bath Festival Orchestra
    Possible alternate thread... instrumental virtuosos who have done creditably on the podium. If you build it, I will come.

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    guido sarducci, bagpipes

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    Zubin Mehta: double bass (I think he can be seen playing Schubert's Trout quintet with DuPré and Barenboim)
    Lorin Maazel: violin. He conducts and plays the violin in the first Danse Macabre I ever listened


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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    Personally, I hate it when great instrumentalists think that because they are virtuosos, they are automatically world-class conductors.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Elgar View Post
    Personally, I hate it when great instrumentalists think that because they are virtuosos, they are automatically world-class conductors.
    And what if they prove they are world-class conductors?


    Dmitri Mitropoulos was a pianist. He recorded Prokofiev's third concert, as soloist and conductor at the same time.

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    So were Bruno Walter, Evgeni Svetlanov and others.

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Elgar View Post
    Personally, I hate it when great instrumentalists think that because they are virtuosos, they are automatically world-class conductors.
    Possible alternate thread... instrumental virtuosos who have done not so creditably on the podium.

    [I'm also grateful to the "Southern Command" for adding to this thread.]

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel View Post
    Dmitri Mitropoulos was a pianist. He recorded Prokofiev's third concert, as soloist and conductor at the same time.

    Now there is one acception to the rule - I love the Mozart Piano Concerto recordings where Daniel Barenboim plays and conducts, but Bernstein's recording of Shostakovich Concertos done in the same way are quite mediocre.

    This is a strange revelation to me because I recognise Bernstein as a great conducter and Barenboim as a not-so-good conducter.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    IMHO, Baremboin as a pianist is a mediocre conductor, and as a conductor a mediocre pianist. He new how to sell himself, and get a fame totally undeserved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oisfetz View Post
    IMHO, Baremboin as a pianist is a mediocre conductor, and as a conductor a mediocre pianist. He new how to sell himself, and get a fame totally undeserved.
    What is, specifically, what you don't like about him as instrumentalist?

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    Boresome, inexpressive,superficial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oisfetz View Post
    Boresome, inexpressive,superficial.
    Really? I like both his Mozart and Brahms. The first one because it's neat and tidy, but yet catchy. And the second because of his expressive character.

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