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John Mauceri, who has stood on podiums before storied symphonies, operas, and ballets around the world, brings a lifetime of experience to bear in this informative, brilliantly entertaining exploration of his profession. As Mauceri traces the lineage of his craft, from Felix Mendelssohn (the first to use a baton) to the present day, he shows us how conducting is itself a composition: of legacy and tradition, of techniques handed down—and more than a trace of ineffable magic.
Weaving clear musical explanations together with memorable accounts of working alongside masters like Bernstein and Stokowski, Mauceri reveals how conductors approach a piece with a combination of personal interpretation, imagination, and insight into the composer’s intent; what it takes to communicate solely through gesture, with sometimes hundreds of performers at once; and the occasionally glamorous, often challenging life of the itinerant maestro. Illuminating and instructive, inflected with candor, humor, and grace, Maestros and Their Music is the perfect guide to the allure and theater, passion and drudgery, rivalries and relationships of the conducting life.
About the Author
Over the past five decades, John Mauceri has conducted symphonies, operas, ballets, musicals, and film music around the world, appearing in the world’s most famous venues and serving as music director of four opera companies and three orchestras, as well as hosting television and radio programs. An accomplished recording artist, he has more than fifty CDs to his name, and is the recipient of a Grammy, a Tony, a Billboard, two Diapasons d’Or, three Emmys, and four Deutschen Schallplattenkritik awards. He has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, and The Huffington Post, among other publications. He lives in New York City.
“Engrossing. . . . As much a personal account of [Mauceri’s] life and career . . . as it is a candid objective guide to conducting.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Mauceri, a Leonard Bernstein protégé, explains the ‘strange and lawless world’ of the ‘invisible’ art of conducting, which, like a medieval trade, is passed on from masters to apprentices.” —The New Yorker
“Engaging, funny, and profound.” —The Boston Globe
“Intriguing. . . . Few authors have expressed so vividly the huge role of the score itself in a maestro’s daily work, or the non-glamorous status of the guest conductor.” —Opera News
“Fascinating. . . . A most engaging volume.” —Gramophone
“Elucidates an art that has formed our aural world. . . . [Mauceri] writes about his craft with both intimacy and a broader eye for its history and scope.” —Forward
“[Mauceri] writes illuminatingly about his work. . . . To read Maestros and Their Music is to come away with a much clearer understanding of what its author calls the ‘strange and lawless world’ of conducting.” —Commentary
“You think conducting is a matter of a maestro merely knowing the score? Let John Mauceri open your eyes and ears to the mysterious, solitary, itinerant world of the conductor and have all your preconceptions blown away. This irresistible and unique book is guaranteed to send you to the concert hall and your CDs with newly educated ears—and heart.” —John Guare, playwright
“[Mauceri’s] history and analysis of his profession are as enlightening as they are down-to-earth. . . . The panorama of his profession is organized in masterful fashion, and the prose sparkles.” —Matthew Gurewitsch, Beyond Criticism
“A remarkably perceptive and charming guide into the mysterious art of the conductor. Part personal confession, part wise explication, Maestros and Their Music will be of tremendous value to anyone who wonders just what that person waving a stick in front of an orchestra is actually doing.” —Stuart Isacoff, author of A Natural History of the Piano
“Written with the profound insight that comes out of a lifetime of conducting experience, John Mauceri’s brilliant book about maestros and their music will transform your understanding of every concert and opera you attend. Everyone who cares about classical music should read this book.” —Larry Wolff, author of The Singing Turk
“Conductors are largely mysteries and intentionally so. In his articulate and insightful book John Mauceri openly invites us into their world, offering a perspective seldom shared and little understood. Every music lover would benefit by reading this book.” —Anne Parsons, president and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
“Moving and memorable. . . . [A] combination history and guide that demystifies the secrets of the baton for a new generation of aspiring conductors. . . . Mauceri demonstrates what it’s like to work closely with brilliant conductors, bringing their artistry to life.” —Publishers Weekly
“Symphony lovers will be thrilled with the behind-the-scenes details, and aspiring conductors will enjoy the rich industry insight. Those simply curious about how classical music happens will feel drawn in by Mauceri’s palpable passion.” —Booklist