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Thread: How does a pianist "conduct from the keyboard" ?

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    Senior Member geralmar's Avatar
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    Default How does a pianist "conduct from the keyboard" ?

    How does he communicate with the orchestra, especially when he is playing? (Female pianists don't seem to be afflicted with this need-- at least not on recordings.) Can everyone in the orchestra even see him? How do the orchestra musicians feel about him in this dual role? I apologize if my questions are naive; but I don't see how this is more than a stunt unless Mozart also did it.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Here’s how Leonard Bernstein did it... and one can see that he’s able to see both sides of the orchestra when he’s not playing. The year 1782 was an auspicious one for Mozart's career: He began a series of concerts at which he premiered his own piano concertos as director of the ensemble and soloist.



    Daniel Barenboim is in a different seating arrangement with the piano top off, which I think is a better for the orchestra’s visibility and I'm surprised that Bernstein didn’t do that as well. I get goosebumps just hearing the introduction to the Beethoven 5th Concerto in this performance... It creates a feeling of expectation that something wonderful is about to happen. Conductors can also do a lot with their eyes.

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Nov-26-2018 at 19:29.
    "That's all Folks!"

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Orchestras today generally do not need time beating for them as they are professional musicians who can count. What the conductor does is indicate how he wants it played. So one can take it he tells them what he wants in the rehearsal and they do it.

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Eyebrows?

    Not every pianist has the training to direct an orchestral performance. Barenboim, Ashkenazy, Bernstein did. For Mozart in particular a limited number of cues are really necessary, most is worked out in rehearsal. And presumably the concertmaster can help keep the ensemble together when the conductors hands are busy. In the Hogwood/Mozart Symphony set I think Hogwood was playing harpsichord and the concertmaster, Jaap Schroeder was actually "conducting."

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