Are you a leader who is ‘on the side of the players’?

Business and music leaders face similar issues when working. Both have to be effective in enabling employees/musicians to perform their best. How do music leaders gain trust, respect so essential to achieving performance excellence? Here are the thoughts of an orchestral player as to the orchestral player – conductor relationship. Beecham, Boult, Barbirolli, Sargent and Karajan are considered the top world conductors of the 20th century.

“There is a very subtle aspect of the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra. We can tell if we are sitting as an assembled orchestra when a conductor takes one step towards us whether he is on the side of the players, whether he associates himself with us or not. We don’t even need him to reach the podium and say ‘Good morning’. We can tell. It’s something in the manner. Beecham had this quality, supremely, as did Boult and Barbirolli. Sargent not at all. And Karajan’s manner? Well, it was very pleasant. It’s a stupid word, I know, but it’s true. He was very pleasant. For all his celebrity and charisma, “when he walked out, we felt he was one of us.’

Are you a leader who is ‘on the side of the players’?

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Arturo Toscanini – a brilliant rise to stardom

Listening to a radio show in the car earlier this week, a remarkable event in the life of Arturo Toscanini, considered during his lifetime ‘the greatest conductor of all times’ came to my attention.

Toscanini was born in Parma, Italy where he won a scholarship to study the cello at the music conservatory. As cellist he joined an opera company with whom he went on tour to South America in 1886. While rehearsing ‘Aida’ in Rio de Janeiro  the performers were more and more unsatisfied with the local conductor who was supposed to lead them for the opera performance. The conductor was sacked, subsitutes were found but still, the orchestra, choir and singers were still unhappy. The evening of the performance arrived, the show starting with complete chaos among the performers. The audience highly unhappy started to show signs of discontent and the conductor was forced to leave the stage. No one knew what to do, when suddenly Toscanini got up, left his cello and took over to conduct the orchestra. What was most remarkable he conducted the whole opera by heart! That evening a star was born.

When he got back  to Europe, Toscanini returned shortly to the cello chair, but was soon more and more in demand as conductor. The rest is history. For us today Toscanini provides an inspiration to what we can achieve if we have courage, belief and faith.