am 4. April 2000
Schuller has got an ax to grind here, citing laundry lists of "incorrect" tempi from the pantheon of conductors. Abbado is too fast, Bernstein too slow, Boulez too fast. On and on and on, like he is piling corpses,referring that everyone is wrong, yet he is right. Schuller is arrogant as well, claiming "Brahms never meant that tempo",claiming how stupid conductors have been by not following what the composer had indicated. If we did that, there would be little to listen to of interest within the classical canon. The grand masters knew nothing of performance of their new works, they guessed at tempi many times, it has only been through continuous performance up through today that such a thing as tempi has come to be affix in a somewhat loose way. Schuller knows his orchestration however with a focus upon blending of winds and strings and the problematics, like in the opening of the First Symphony of Brahms.I had wished he would have included a new work, even one of his own would have been fantastic to discuss,i.e. the conducting problems of a new work. Ravel's Daphnis & Chloe is a great example which he utilizes here. That work with string harmonics and virtuoso wind writing in multi-layered textures is again a great example. I suspect the editor perhaps cut out a chapter on Ligeti or Boulez or Babbitt. He should follow-up this book with another strictly devoted to music after 1945.
am 2. September 1999
Many might frown at Gunther Schuller's lengthy, and by no means completely coherant, work on orchestral leadership. This book is not for the beginner. Here is a book for the music lover - to prove once and for all that great conducting does not come from the conductor's own ideas alone - as he [Gunther] restates something Ravel once told musicians: "do not 'interpret [what has been written in the score] ' - "REALIZE" what the score itself is saying to you!" Just one of Gunther's many messages: The score, written by the sole person who fully understood it, tells you what it wants. Don't ignore that without careful thought, and of course, 'compleat' understanding.
am 27. November 1998
A superb 'textbook' for the fledgeling conductor as well as the seasoned music critic. Honest, well written, and downright startling information which is sure to bring new delight to music enthusiests who are willing to evaluate it's pages unbiasedly because they, too, truly care about the 'holy script' which we call the score.