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Support us financially by purchasing this book from
Inside Conducting
by Christopher Seaman
284pp. First published 2013; hardcover format; £19.99
University of Rochester Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-58046-411-6

I am happy to add my praise to those plaudits of Simon Rattle, Yo-Yo Ma and Norman Lebrecht which adorn this excellent book. As a conductor and as a biographer of a pre-recording era conductor (Hans Richter) I know how hard it is to write about the performance of music. The best conductors, according to orchestral players, are the dead ones. ‘A conductor is born not made’, so the saying goes. The art of conducting is therefore hard to nail but Christopher Seaman does just that in exemplary fashion. The book is structured logically with each of its nine parts subdivided into an average of six topics. It’s a very readable book because none of the topics overstays its welcome. Each one ends with a few pithy but true, legendary or apocryphal sayings of or about the good and the great of the past entitled ‘And this is what they said’, ‘they’ being mainly conductors, composers and orchestral players.
 
Seaman’s own career began as timpanist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for four years. The poacher then turned gamekeeper and he was appointed as conductor to the BBC Scottish Orchestra. Most of his career has been based in America and he is now Conductor Laureate for Life of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in New York. The book will make interesting reading for all lovers of music, students of conducting as well as fellow professionals. There’s a wealth of advice gleaned from his own experience for aspirants in the profession who no doubt talk too much at rehearsals and for those whose conducting activities are limited to the living room mirror and hi-fi system or the I-Pod.
 
It’s an approachable read from cover to cover, with its serious practical application and in-depth musicological insight laced with the author’s engaging humour.
 
Christopher Fifield    

Book layout 

Foreword by David Zinman: Illustrations by Michael Richards 
Part One: The Conductor’s Mind
1 Background
2 Harmony
3 Memory
4 Perfect Pitch
5 Training Conductors
6 Youth Orchestras
 
Part Two: The Conductor’s Skills
7 Balance
8 Choral Works
9 Concerto Accompaniment
10 Ear
11 Eye Contact
12 Opera
13 Rehearsing
 
Part Three: The Conductor’s Hands
14 Baton
15 Beat
16 Behind-the-Beat Playing
17 Directing from the Harpsichord
18 Economy of gesture, Cueing, Use of the Left Hand
 
Part Four: The Conductor and the Musicians
19 Auditions
20 Chamber Orchestras
21 Chief Conductor
22 Friend or Boss?
23 Orchestral Playing
24 Role of Concertmaster
25 Solos in an Orchestral Piece
26 Stage Settings
 
Part Five: The Conductor and the Instruments
27 Strings
28 Winds
29 Timpani and Percussion 
Part Six: The Conductor, the Composer and the Score
30 Composes
31 Learning Scores. Interpretation
32 Marking Parts
33 Performance Practice
34 Shape and Structure
35 Tempo and Metronome 
Part Seven: The Conductor and the Audience
36 Addressing the Audience
37 Applause, Platform Demeanour, Coughing
38 Programme Planning
 
Part Eight: The Conductor and “The Business”
39 Career and Agents
40 Critics
41 Gender
42 Guest Conducting
43 Orchestra Managements
44 Recording
45 Travel and Packing
 
Part Nine: Inside the Conductor
46 Concentration
47 Control and Power
48 Ego
49 Languages
50 Nervousness
51 Our Heritage: Some Ancestors and My Links with Them 

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