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The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power Paperback – 7 Jul 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (7 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067101045X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671010454
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 778,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
Concise insights into the world of conducting since its popular inception. However, I felt that it needs a little updating as much has changed since the book was first published. At times I got a little sense of embitterment from the writing, but it was still an extremely fascinating read.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the poorest presented books that I have read for a long time. Well over 300 pages of small text, even smaller for a very useful Appendix on ‘Conductors and their Careers’, Source List and Bibliography and Index. It is published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, but does little to promote its reputation.

It is not as if this is not an interesting book. It is packed with information and anecdotes [of varying veracity] delivered in the author’s characteristic opinionated manner. Like top footballers, star conductors have little in common with their followers and few, apart from the financial, ties with their orchestras.

Conductors are becoming younger, with a sprinkling of women [Siân Edwards gets a mention and, along with Simon Rattle - pre-Berlin - is in a small minority to be praised], and some even question the concept of audiences made up of the rich and well-connected. Partly this is due to the global influence of Dudamel and the El Sistema, the musical education programme established in Venezuela and now being transplanted across continents. His reputation was only just emgering when this book was published.

However, human nature being what it is, the crop of youthful conductors that Lebrecht looks to in this book, originally published in 1991 and updated in 1997, may well grow more conservative or react in traditional ways if their positions are threatened from below. From today’s perspective, Gergiev’s current support for President Putin’s authoritarian rule and its attitude to homosexuals and other minorities is just another stark reminder of the past.

I almost began to feel sorry for Karajan, not least because he reached the musical heights after being given a substantial Legge up.
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