The Score, the Orchestra, and the Conductor

The Score, the Orchestra, and the Conductor

The Score, the Orchestra, and the Conductor

The Score, the Orchestra, and the Conductor


Known internationally for his work as a teacher of conducting, Gustav Meier's influence in the field cannot be overstated. In The Score, the Orchestra and the Conductor, Meier demystifies the conductor's craft with explanations and illustrations of what the conductor must know to attain podium success. He provides useful information from the rudimentary to the sophisticated, and offers specific and readily applicable advice for technical and musical matters essential to the conductor's first rehearsal with the orchestra.
This book details many topics that otherwise are unavailable to the aspiring and established conductor, including the use of the common denominator, the "The ZIG-ZAG method", a multiple, cross-indexed glossary of orchestral instruments in four languages, an illustrated description of string harmonics, and a comprehensive listing of voice categories, their overlaps, dynamic ranges and repertory.The Score, the Orchestra and the Conductoris an indispensable addition to the library of every conductor and conducting student.


One man or woman stands in front of 100 fellow human beings—
unlike them, without the capacity to make sound—and yet has the
power to shape the great works of sonic art. The conductor’s eyes
dart about, seemingly all-seeing, ears all-hearing, a musical intelli
gence called upon to grasp a work’s architecture and then convey it.
He or she is curator of masterpieces, incubator of new works and
public performer.—New York Times
, Daniel J. Wakin

Singers and instrumentalists are able to look at a musical work and transform it immediately into musical sound. Aural and physical feedback allows them to discover technical and musical problems early on and begin at once to work on solutions. In contrast, conductors spend the majority of their preparation time for a performance without access to their “instrument,” the orchestra. Their musical and technical experimentation occurs in a vacuum. Conductors lack an opportunity to predict ensemble problems, experiment with tools of communication, or test their effectiveness in forming musical ideas prior to the first orchestra rehearsal.

The score provides all the information needed to form a musical interpretation of a composition; however, a conductor must be able to read and understand the score; know the various clefs; be familiar with transposing instruments; imagine sound, colors and textures; develop a deep and true musical concept; and decide how to communicate and lead most effectively through physical gestures.

Generally the orchestra plays the score together only a few days before an audience hears the performance. In addition, rehearsal time is limited, and frequently musicians have at best only a few opportunities to rehearse their parts together. Conductors must be aware that, from the first rehearsal, orchestra members expect a musical framework within which the composition will be performed and a consistent set of physical signals.

All of this requires intense preparation. Depending on the particular demands of each score and the conductor’s training, different methods or even fundamentally different techniques may be used. This text is a practical approach to the conductor’s preparation of a score for performance; it categorizes and illuminates the essential tools of the conductor’s craft. I hope it will help conductors gain the knowledge and confidence needed to step on the podium.

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