The “language” of conductors consists of gestures and motions. For those who haven’t mastered them, they’re frequently intriguing to watch—and for all those who have, they represent just one aspect of those numerous important skills that are essential to communicating with musicians, an orchestra, or a choir.
To numerous Viennese music lovers, Sian Edwards has been a familiar name for many years, now—thanks to her collaboration with Klangforum Wien and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and by virtue of numerous Theater an der Wien appearances conducting works such as Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, and Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata.
It is as dictators at the rostrum that figures such as Teodor Currentzis, Arturo Toscanini, and Herbert von Karajan are frequently described, in contrast to the principle of democratic leadership exemplified by such figures as Bruno Walter, Marie Jacquot, and Johannes Wildner. But must a conductor indeed work differently these days, and have the demands being made of conductors changed?
“What we see of the conductor at the rostrum is really just the tip of the iceberg. A deeper look reveals a veritable pyramid of competences made up of skills ranging from music to management,” says Alois Glaßner, head of the mdw’s Department of Conducting. mdw Magazine spoke with Glaßner about the University’s comprehensive training of conductors, the conducting programme as such, and the profession’s ongoing transformation as well as the department’s own plans.
When we get goosebumps at a concert, when our eyes tear up at the words we hear spoken onstage, or when we hold our breaths out of excitement during some other type of performance, what we’re experiencing are one-of-a-kind moments that can’t be reproduced in all their aspects—or, for that matter, repeated in exactly the same way.
“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns, driven time and again off course…” Homer’s epic poem that recounts the wide-ranging journeys of Odysseus begins with an invocation of the muse (here in the English translation by Robert Fagle). She is asked to tell us of these heroic deeds. We will listen, promises the voice in the prologue, and the Odyssey begins…
We live in an age of information. Never before has so much information been produced, and never before has obtaining quick access to it been so easy. Information is everywhere—and it’s often said that we’re dealing with a flood of it. At the same time, untold quantities of information are lost on a daily basis, with much content being ephemeral and/or generated only for the sake of a brief moment. Thereafter, it disappears into the infinite depths of the Internet.