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Thread: Who Do You Feel Was The Most Important Conductor Of The Recorded Era?

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    Default Who Do You Feel Was The Most Important Conductor Of The Recorded Era?

    Who do you feel was the most important conductor of the recorded era?

    Taking everything into account...Recordings, Championing Classical Music, Creating Public Awareness, Championing Composers who may not be as popular today, creating a lasting Legacy and Influence.

    This isn't who is a "Who is the Greatest" or "Who is your Favorite" or "Who performed the works most like they were intended".

    This is the total grand scope of things in the Recording of Classical Music.

    One could make arguments for many:

    Karajan was obviously the most recorded and was very much interested in technology and recording methods.

    Bernstein was very much involved with getting classical music introduced to children and the masses and championing lesser known composers.

    Furtwangler & Tuscannini were exceptionally influential and have many historically important recordings.

    But, who do you feel was the "Most Important" or had the "Greatest Contribution" to the Recorded Era of Classical Music?

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by realdealblues View Post
    Who do you feel was the most important conductor of the recorded era?

    Taking everything into account...Recordings, Championing Classical Music, Creating Public Awareness, Championing Composers who may not be as popular today, creating a lasting Legacy and Influence.

    This isn't who is a "Who is the Greatest" or "Who is your Favorite" or "Who performed the works most like they were intended".

    This is the total grand scope of things in the Recording of Classical Music.

    One could make arguments for many:

    Karajan was obviously the most recorded and was very much interested in technology and recording methods.

    Bernstein was very much involved with getting classical music introduced to children and the masses and championing lesser known composers.

    Furtwangler & Tuscannini were exceptionally influential and have many historically important recordings.

    But, who do you feel was the "Most Important" or had the "Greatest Contribution" to the Recorded Era of Classical Music?
    Taking into account your criteria Leopold Stokowski is the man.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    I want to say Bernstein because he was a great teacher, but I have to say Stokowski. He was everything... a teacher, a champion of young musicians and new music, a great conductor, a promoter of classical music to the common man... he did it all and he did it with style. Classical music owes him more than any other figure of the 20th century. No one else even comes close.
    Last edited by bigshot; Nov-03-2012 at 03:35.

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    I would say Stokowski does stick out as having an important contribution in his time as a conductor and more.

    But even though I don't like everything he did, I would say of the ones mentioned by the OP, Bernstein really stands out as doing many things. Resuscitating Mahler and Ives, being on television and exposing classical to the masses, composing one of the most popular works of the century in West Side Story, being a pianist to be reckoned with too, and so on.

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    Wasn't the one responsible for the rediscovery (and first discovery) of Mahler and Ives Koussevitzky? He would be right up there with Bernstein and Stokowski too for the growth of the BSO and Tanglewood. Commissioned Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. He also premiered Rite of Spring in the US. (Stoki was hot on his heels on that one.)
    Last edited by bigshot; Nov-03-2012 at 04:01.

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    I'm not aware of Koussevitsky's role re Mahler and Ives 'revival' but I think that Bernstein studied under him. Koussevitsky did as you say commission some key works, incl. the Bartok and also all of Martinu's symphonies and also works by Hindemith. So I think he was definitely important. To be fully correct, of course Mahler never disappeared, he just kind of took a dip. No doubt the Nazis banning him during their rule in occupied Europe did not help much. Of course the advent of long playing stereo recordings was also a happy coincidence for Bernstein and people like Solti too. But before that, people like Bruno Walter and Hermann Scherchen kept the Mahler flame alive so to speak. I would not be surprised if Koussevitzky had a hand in the Ives revival, as Lenny was studying under him and working with him when Ives' music began to surface more in the 1940's.

    So its chicken and egg a bit, this is, it always is, trying to narrow down things. There where so many significant conductors at that time who contributed to classical music both in specific ways and as a whole.

    Another thing I'd add is Bernstein's championing of American music, composers like not only Ives but also Copland, Gershwin, W. Schuman, Barber to name the big ones. But of course other conductors like Howard Hanson made big impact in the early years of stereo in that area too, but I see him as having less 'international' profile than Lenny.
    Last edited by Sid James; Nov-03-2012 at 11:33.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    I would say Stokowski does stick out as having an important contribution in his time as a conductor and more.

    But even though I don't like everything he did, I would say of the ones mentioned by the OP, Bernstein really stands out as doing many things. Resuscitating Mahler and Ives, being on television and exposing classical to the masses, composing one of the most popular works of the century in West Side Story, being a pianist to be reckoned with too, and so on.
    Suddenly I seem to find myself at odds with you for some reason.
    Stokowski championed and relaunched ives first and I have the rcordings to prove it.
    As for Mahler, i wonder what the shades of Bruno Walter,Klemperer,Boult.van lBeinum,Kubelik,Schuricht snr,Mitropoulos,Abravanal,
    Horrenstein,and many others would have thought of your claim?
    Last edited by moody; Nov-03-2012 at 16:39.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Toscanini
    his impact is still felt today. hip.

    if only he had been recorded better.
    Last edited by Itullian; Nov-03-2012 at 18:51.

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    Toscanini isn't the father of HIP. Strangely enough, Leonard Bernstein's Haydn symphony recordings of the 60s are said to be the precursor of that. A musicologist friend of Bernstein's was lamenting how Haydn's symphonies had been distorted by Beecham and pointing to errors in the published performance scores. He asked Bernstein to consider rethinking how Haydn was conducted, and Bernstein did a considerable amount of research and preparation before he recorded them.

    I was mistaken about Koussevitzky. I had been told that a violinist from the BSO discovered Ives in the 40s and brought his work to the attention of Koussevitzky. The person who told me that was wrong. It was Lou Harrison, who was a composer and music critic. Bernstein and Stokowski were the first major artists to champion his work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    Toscanini isn't the father of HIP. Strangely enough, Leonard Bernstein's Haydn symphony recordings of the 60s are said to be the precursor of that. A musicologist friend of Bernstein's was lamenting how Haydn's symphonies had been distorted by Beecham and pointing to errors in the published performance scores. He asked Bernstein to consider rethinking how Haydn was conducted, and Bernstein did a considerable amount of research and preparation before he recorded them.
    Cosmic irony indeed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    Toscanini
    his impact is still felt today. hip.

    if only he had been recorded better.
    You are right,but most of his important work with new composers was done before his American time i.e with Puccini and others.
    What he did also was to change the way conductors were looked upon for ever.Before him the opera house was pretty well run by the singers and the claques,he put an end to all this not to mention unnecessary encores and general noise.
    Like Mahler he had no regard for "traditions" and took a new look at scores whether operatic or otherwise, we owe him greatly.
    As for recordings,the Carnegie Hall examples are much better than the ghastly Studio 8H ones,RCA should hang their heads in shame.
    There is a live recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony that is also good.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Reiner, RCA Victor.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    i disagree.
    Toscanini made adherence to the score the thing way before Bernstein.
    and Bernstein interpreted the hell out of everything he conducted.
    Toscys the man for the score.
    and im a fan of Lennys.

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    Some interesting names being thrown out here. I like everyone listed so far. I was thinking about this question the other day for a few hours and I couldn't really come up with an answer. Thus my reason for posting it on the forum.

    Though I'm still not sure who I would pick, it's nice to hear some of the reasons being given.

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    But Toscanini didn't research scores himself, did he?

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