Music Conductors and Directors

Conducting, whether it be of a symphony orchestra, an opera, a chorus, a theater pit orchestra, a marching band, or even a big swing band, is an enormously complex and demanding occupation to which only the exceptional individual can possibly aspire with hope of even moderate success. Music conductors must have multiple skills and talents. First and foremost, they must be consummate musicians. Not only should they have mastered an instrument, but they also must know music and be able to interpret the score of any composition. They should have an unerring ear and a bearing that commands the respect of the musicians. Conductors need to be sensitive to the musicians, sympathetic to their problems, and able to inspire them to bring out the very best they have to offer. Conductors must also have a sense of showmanship. Some conductors have advanced farther than others because their dramatic conducting style helps bring in larger audiences and greater receipts. The conductor must also be a psychologist who can deal with the multiplicity of complex and temperamental personalities presented by a large ensemble of musicians and singers. Conductors must exude personal charm; orchestras are always fund-raising, and the conductor is frequently expected to meet major donors to keep their goodwill. Finally, and in line with fund-raising, music conductors and directors are expected to have administrative skills and to understand the business and financial problems that face the orchestra organization.

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