Inside Conducting

Inside Conducting

Christopher Seaman

eBook for Handhelds

University of Rochester Press



Exactly what does a conductor do in front of an orchestra? Internationally renowned conductor Christopher Seaman offers lively and informative answers in this wise yet humorous book.
What does a conductor actually do? How much effect does he or she have? Can the orchestra manage without one? Why don't the players look at the conductor more? Is it necessary for the conductor to play every instrument? What about interpretation? What happens at rehearsals? Why do some conductors "thrash around" more than others? Who's the boss in a concerto: the soloist or the conductor?
These are some of the questions that receive lively and informative answers in this book by renowned conductor Christopher Seaman. Composed of short articles on individual topics, it is accessible and easy to consult. Each article begins with an anecdote or saying and ends with quotations from musicians, often expressing opposing views.
There are many books on the art of conducting, but none like this. Music lovers wondering what the figure on the podium actually does, and aspiring conductors eager to learn more about the art and craft of leading an orchestra, will all treasure this wise yet humorous book.

Christopher Seaman has been successful at both ends of the baton. After four years as principal timpanist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, he was appointed principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and has enjoyed a busy international conducting career for over forty years. He is now Conductor Laureate for Life of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New York, and he continues to bring great music and wise words to audiences, students, and readers around the world.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781580468305), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


11 black and white, 97 line illustrations
284 pages
9x6 in
Hardback, 9781580464116, June 2013
eBook for Handhelds, 9781580468138, June 2013
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, PER000000, MUS008000
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Table of Contents

Perfect Pitch
Training Conductors
Youth Orchestras
Choral Works
Concerto Accompaniment
Eye Contact
Behind-the-Beat Playing
Directing from the Harpsichord
Economy of Gesture, Cueing, Use of the Left Hand
Chamber Orchestras
Chief Conductor
Friend or Boss?
Orchestral Playing
Role of Concertmaster
Solos in an Orchestral Piece
Stage Settings
Timpani and Percussion
Learning Scores, Interpretation
Marking Parts
Performance Practice
Shape and Structure
Tempo and Metronome
Addressing the Audience
Applause, Platform Demeanor, Coughing
Program Planning
Career and Agents
Guest Conducting
Orchestra Managements
Travel and Packing
Control and Power
Our Heritage: Some Ancestors and My Links with Them
Suggested Reading
Musical Example Credits
A Note on the Illustrations
Index of Conductors


[Seaman's] experience is wonderfully crystallized in the pithy observations here. TLS [Michael Downes]

Engaging, uncomplicated overview of the conductor's role ... Very readable, with some good jokes, hoary anecdotes and nice analogies. CLASSICAL MUSIC's Books of the Year, December 2013

Chosen by Financial Times as a Classical Music Book of the Year

One of Classical Music's Best Books of the Year

With humor, clarity, and wisdom, Christopher Seaman gives insight into the mind of a conductor. A feast of inside scoops for music lovers. --Yo-Yo Ma, cellist and Artistic Director of the Silk Road Project

This book is simply typical Christopher, something I would consider one of the highest compliments. Typical of Christopher to combine so much wisdom with so much wit. Required reading, I think, and one of the friendliest books about music ever penned. --Sir Simon Rattle, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

To hear the human truths from an experienced music director, enriched by examples from his life, is marvelously illuminating. I learned many little things and some big ones. --Norman Lebrecht, author and critic

Christopher Seaman, who is renowned for his teaching work at the Guildhall School of Music, and has conducted at the highest level, provides a barrage of straight answers. Most are directed towards real would-be conductors, rather than bedroom-mirror amateurs, but there's plenty for the outsider looking in. . . . The conductor's work is not often discussed in such plain detail. Conducting is 'like riding a horse not driving a car'. A tighter grip on the baton produces a harder tone. Keeping the arms moving upward very slowly can restrain an audience's desire to rush to clap after a quiet ending. . . . Demystifies the art and the figure of the conductor. THE SPECTATOR [James McConnachie]">Full Review

The art of conducting is hard to nail but Christopher Seaman does just that in exemplary fashion. . . . Interesting reading for all lovers of music, students of conducting as well as fellow professionals. . . . Serious practical application and in-depth musicological insight laced with the author's engaging humour. Highly recommended. MUSICWEB-INTERNATIONAL [Christopher Fifield]