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Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro Hardcover – July 1, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

These stories revealing, candid, colorful, and sometimes hilarious provide the vehicle for many of Slatkin s most insightful observations about the 'conducting business' and his own career within it. They are also what make the book a page-turner, not only for those 'in pursuit of a conducting career' but for anyone interested in the conducting profession and the world of orchestras. --Symphony Now

One of the world's most highly regarded conductors, Slatkin--music director and conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon and principal guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra--opens a door into the private world of maestros. This is a collection of Slatkin's personal thoughts; it resembles a freewheeling, idiosyncratic journal. Even though there are nominally three parts, the book is not bound by an overarching structure. It is a collection: part autobiography, part tips for aspiring conductors, part conducting text, and part charming anecdotes. The reader who wants to learn more about the life of a jet-setting conductor will find much to savor. The prose is conversational, not academic. There are no footnotes or scholarly index. One sees only from Slatkin's point of view. But Slatkin honestly discusses his career accomplishments at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony, and BBC Orchestra. He also tells the reader much about his personality and character and his dedication to teaching, at the National Conducting Institute and at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. The book is not meant for academic collections, but it is a unique and an intimate portrait and arevealing behind-the-scenes look at classical music. --Choice Magazine

The demands of the conducting profession are dealt with head on, and there is much affection for people and insight into music that will endear musicians and music-lovers alike to a beautifully written, very human and rewarding manuscript. --TimeOut London

''This is a highly personal but also impressively honest and straightforward account of a profession that has, indeed, been 'veiled in mystery,' at least since the twentieth century if not earlier.'' --Examiner.com

The demands of the conducting profession are dealt with head on, and there is much affection for people and insight into music that will endear musicians and music-lovers alike to a beautifully written, very human and rewarding manuscript. --TimeOut London

About the Author

Leonard Slatkin has held positions that include directorships with orchestras in Washington DC, Saint Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles and at the BBC. He has been nominated for 60 Grammys and won seven. His awards include the National Medal for the Arts and honorary degrees from twelve universities.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Amadeus (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574672045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574672046
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence D. Eckerling on August 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whether you are looking for a book that is autobiographical of Mr. Slatkin, looking for great thought provoking musical tips for conductors, or a practical "behind the scenes" look at what a conductor goes through, this book has it all. Mr. Slatkin is honest, thoroughly knowledgable, and has stories that are totally captivating. If you know Mr. Slatkin only through his conducting, you will be amazed. If you thought you knew him personally, you'll be surprised. Highly recommended for conductors, musicians who are not conductors, and even non musicians fascinated by conductors.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jerome Allen on August 28, 2012
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The book seems to serve two audiences: aspiring conductors and laymen who simply love classical music. Even though I knew Maestro Slatkin during his years in Washington, I had no idea how much goes into the business of conducting. In delivering on his promise to unveil the mystery, he ranges from the psychological (how to handle different members of an orchestra) to the practical (is the baton really needed)? He makes it clear that conducting is indeed a business as well as an art. But beyond that, the anecdotes alone are worth the price of the book. He seems to have known almost everyone in the music business from Sinatra to Heifetz. Slatkin relates his own career and is surprisingly candid about what he regards as his failures. The book is long on the human side. If he were not conducting, he would like to be broadcasting baseball. His father, an accomplished conductor, instructed him not only about music of all kinds but about the superiority of the National League and, in particular, the St. Louis Cardinals.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Frederick Hohman on October 16, 2012
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Slatkin's Human Account is an Inspiration

The book's ironic, twist-of-a-phrase title is a clue that we are to become drawn into the enigmatic, somewhat circus-like world of classical music, and that we are to be treated to a soliloquy that dispels a portion of the classical music world's shroud of mystery. The clever title distills the dichotomy inherent in the broader subject of the book, in much the same way that an opera overture displays and partially resolves the main themes of an epic story set to music.

Leonard Slatkin's Conducting Business is perhaps the single most important book to meet my eyes in recent times, because of the way it humanizes the conductor's profession. Mr. Slatkin's message is achieved with a level of humility and grace that is too often obscured by the cloud of celebrity that shrouds many celebrated Maestros. If you have never heard Slatkin conduct, you will want to hear him after reading this book. Here is one maestro that is not afraid to admit he has made a few mistakes along the way. This type of frank talk and modesty is wildly refreshing. Mr. Slatkin's monologue cites struggles between union labor and management, but in the very same pages of the book, we also read Mr. Slatkin's vivid recount of his own background and childhood, and of a time not so very long ago, when musicians took their greatest pride not in their union contract terms, but rather in finer points of the musical craft for its own sake. If one reads it with sensitivity, one can also perceive how early childhood experiences of Mr. Slatkin shaped and guided his delicate psyche throughout an entire career.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jack B. Nimble on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The other reviews say it all - so here, from a professional musician and former colleague is a sum-up:
Orchestral players love to play for this man, because he makes it all so easy. He is simply just one of the great, great conductors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald D. O'Brien on December 18, 2012
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I am on the board of a symphony orchestra--and their on-stage spokesman as well--and really had to have more knowledge of the various performing entities. I started here. A fine book with the kind of insight that has helped me. Recommended to you if you love serious music, either as a performer or, like me, as an enthusiast.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stretch on February 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Leonard Slatkin's book from start to finish! There is just enough technical information to illustrate each point without getting bogged down in details. Many of the personal anecdotes are just priceless. I particularly appreciated Maestro Slatkin sharing his personal memories of growing up in a home where everyone played music: Leonard as pianist; his brother, cellist Fred Zlotkin; his father, violinist and conductor Felix Slatkin; and his mother, cellist Eleanor Aller. Felix and Eleanor's Hollywood String Quartet produced a number of milestone recordings. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. White on November 11, 2012
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Entertaining and forthright. Slatkin gives us some very amusing anecdotes, and plenty of good advice for the budding conductor. Enjoyed this more than I expected to.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard L Floyd on May 9, 2013
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I was somewhat disappointed. I too conduct (at the collegiate level) so was looking forward to a very informative read. Some chapters were just that but overall the content was uneven and lacked many of the personal insights I expect in such books. Am I glad I read it. Yes. Would I recommend it to others. Yes. But with qualifications regarding expectations.
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