Conducting a case study
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Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as «the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture. The conductor typically stands on a raised podium with a large music stand for the full score, which contains the musical notation for all the instruments or voices. Conductors act as guides to the orchestras or choirs they conduct. The principal conductor of an orchestra or opera company is sometimes referred to as a music director or chief conductor, or by the German words Kapellmeister or Dirigent.
This section does not cite any sources. An early form of conducting is cheironomy, the use of hand gestures to indicate melodic shape. This has been practiced at least as far back as the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, other devices to indicate the passing of time came into use.
Rolled sheets of paper, smaller sticks and unadorned hands are all shown in pictures from this period. In instrumental music throughout the 18th century, a member of the ensemble usually acted as the conductor. This was sometimes the concertmaster, who could use his bow as a baton, or a lutenist who would move the neck of his instrument in time with the beat. Theater auf der Wieden, with Mozart himself conducting the orchestra, according to documents and publicity posters from that time.
In 1798, Joseph Haydn conducted the premiere of Creation with his hands and a baton while «Kapellmeister Weigl at the fortepiano. While some orchestras protested the introduction of the conductor, since they were used to having a concertmaster or keyboard player act as leader, eventually the role of a conductor was established. The composers Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner attained greatness as conductors, and they wrote two of the earliest essays dedicated to the subject. Berlioz is considered the first virtuoso conductor.
Bülow as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1895. Nikisch took the London Symphony Orchestra on tour through the United States in April 1912, the first American tour by a European orchestra. He also made one of the earliest recordings of a complete symphony: the Beethoven Fifth with the Berlin Philharmonic in November 1913. Conductors of the generations after Nikisch often left extensive recorded evidence of their arts. Two particularly influential and widely recorded figures are often treated, somewhat inaccurately, as interpretive antipodes. Both Karajan and Bernstein made extensive use of advances in media to convey their art, but in tellingly different ways. Karajan made a series of films late in his life, but in conducting a case study, he did not talk.
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Marin Alsop and Simone Young are to be seen conducting leading orchestras. While Mexico has produced several major international conductors, Alondra de la Parra has become the first Mexican-born woman to attain distinction in the profession. Conducting is a means of communicating artistic directions to performers during a performance. Although there are many formal rules on how to conduct correctly, others are subjective, and a wide variety of different conducting styles exist depending upon the training and sophistication of the conductor. A distinction is sometimes made between orchestral conducting and choral conducting.
Typically, orchestral conductors use a baton more often than choral conductors. The grip of the baton varies from conductor to conductor. This is a signal for the orchestra members to ready their instruments to be played or for the choristers to be ready and watching. The downbeat indicates the first beat of the bar, and the upbeat indicates the beat before the first note of the piece and the last beat of the bar.
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