From bow to baton

September 23, 2008 at 11:27 PM · There've been lots of famous conductors who had made the switch from violin (Mazaal, Ormandy) or viola or cello to baton -- but who among the greats on their instrument made an equal impact (to you) in leading an orchestra? Menuhin? Oistrakh? Casals? Zuckerman? Rieu (mon dieu)? (I'm not talking about instrumentalists who would be regarded as anything less than among the greats at their stringed instrument...) So, whaddya think? I'm waiting. C'mon, it's getting late already. Geeze.

Replies (44)

September 23, 2008 at 11:31 PM · Sidney Harth, a very fine violinist, and former concertmaster of the CSO and LA Phil is a very fine conductor.

September 24, 2008 at 12:08 AM · Greetings,




September 24, 2008 at 01:41 AM · Thank you, great one. The opening of Schubert's Fifth Symphony with Casals conducting the Marlboro Festival Orch. is surely one of the most sublime moments in recorded classical music. (His orchestra for that, by the way, included many top virtuosi.)

Do you think Menuhin's conducting style approached the musicality of his violin recordings?

September 24, 2008 at 02:01 AM · Toscanini, of course, was a cellist (although not a "great" one).

Speaking of Ormandy, he is the conductor on my favorite recording of the Beethoven Concerto (Francescatti, Philadelphia Orchestra, 1950, recently re-released after about 50 years by Biddulph). The orchestral ensemble accompaniment is clearly "violinistic" and totally synergistic with the style of the soloist. It's a great performance, and could have been conducted only by a violinist.

Ysaye did some conducting. And I hate to mention this, but what about Mr. Reiu?

September 24, 2008 at 02:16 AM · Sir Neville Marriner (violinist with Philharmonia and London Symphony) and Lorin Maazel (released solo violin CD on RCA I believe), come to mind as violinist turned conductor.

September 24, 2008 at 02:17 AM · "Slava" Rostropovich.

September 24, 2008 at 04:03 AM · two CD's with Maazel as violinist: (violin showpieces)

and (Chausson concerto for violin & piano)

September 24, 2008 at 04:08 AM · Greetings,

>Do you think Menuhin's conducting style approached the musicality of his violin recordings?

I am sure itmust have been a wonderful experience to have such a knowledgeable and inspiring musicina conducting. But to be honest, what little I have seen and ehard of him conducting doesn`t seem to catch fire and cause one to sit up. I think he was the conducter for Repins Mozart but I don`t retain an aural memory of anythign too exciting. I hought Oistrakh looke dgood as a conducter and would have carried on to great things. Issac Stern is anothe rperson who I think would have been great at this instead of some of his les sthan stellar later performanc son the fiddle.

Zucker, for all his awesome musicainship, is a much better violnist than conducter in my opinion. Hs conducting carrer deprived us of some great fiddle/viola performances perhaps.

Ashkenazy is one of the worts instrumental turned conducters around but orchestras have thankfully learne d to ignore him.



September 24, 2008 at 05:10 AM · The outstanding instrumentalist/conductor of our time is, of course, Daniel Barenboim. On almost as high a level in both roles is Christoph Eschenbach. Andre Previn was also rather good in both roles.

One of the worst conductors I have ever played under is Rostropovich.

Zuckerman has grown over the years as a conductor, but he still relies on musicianship and personal magnetism to compensate for his lack of basic conductorial talent. I think Perlman has more potential as a conductor if he sticks with it.

Also Joe Silverstein has grown into a wonderful conductor in recent years with his immense knowledge of music and of the orchestra.

September 24, 2008 at 05:27 AM · "One of the worst conductors I have ever played under is Rostropovich."

That's interesting. What did he do wrong?

I would second Casals. I never saw him, but I liked his recordings.

September 24, 2008 at 02:15 PM · Rating all the conductors I've worked with (not just those who were great string players) on the criteria of rapport with the orchestra and getting outstanding results in performance, I'd put Jaime Laredo and Anshel Brusilow right at the top.

September 24, 2008 at 05:38 PM · "One of the worst conductors I have ever played under is Rostropovich."

That's interesting. What did he do wrong?

He does not show with his baton, nor does he ask for verbally, the kind of vivid, inspired musical artistry that he has in his playing. Neither does he communicate either verbally or physically a clear concept of orchestral sound and style. Also his conducting movements are clumsy and not very musical and this is reflected in the sound.

September 24, 2008 at 08:28 PM · Hi Eric:

I thought Brusilow was a great violinist. For a while he was conducting the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra. Whatever happened to him?


September 24, 2008 at 08:57 PM · Roy,

I always thought "Slava" was a virtuoso pedagogue

as a player,teacher and conductor.

It's ok,I'll make it through this setback also

but I do trust someone will refute your remarks

re Rostropovich [may he rest in peace].

September 24, 2008 at 10:03 PM · Hi, Kevin. Yes, it's been a while since Brusilow conducted the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia (1960s!), which was a fantastic orchestra, by the way—I grew up listening to his recordings of Le tombeau de Couperin and the Brahms D-major Serenade with them. Brusilow came to Dallas in 1970 to become the music director of the DSO and has lived there ever since. The DSO position lasted only three years (as I recall there was friction with the management and/or board); since then he has directed the orchestra programs and taught conducting at two area music schools, Southern Methodist U. and North Texas State U. (later called U. of North Texas), and has been the music director of a very good (professional) community orchestra in Richardson, a Dallas suburb. He has done very little violin performance publicly but has been active playing and contracting for local recording studios. He just retired from UNT last spring. There's a pretty decent article about him in Wikipedia.

September 25, 2008 at 03:39 AM · Thanks, Roy. To me, his movements and personna have a really captivating juxtaposition of nerd and macho happening at the same time. Like conflicting body language messages. Great quality for a soloist though.

September 25, 2008 at 03:44 AM · Jim,

You should be shot dead for referring to "Slava"

as a "Nerd" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 25, 2008 at 04:06 AM · You're serious, and crazy enough to do it.

September 25, 2008 at 04:08 AM · Yes,I am "a trained killer"...

United States Army

Military Police

Viet Nam {Tet}


Now,I play the violin-----you,by your own admission,do not even own a violin OR even play a violin !!!!!

Keep making metronomes--fits your lifestyle as a dullard & rube !!!!!!

September 25, 2008 at 04:51 AM · You ought to be thrown out for insinuating about killing someone. For the record, I did study violin for a long time, ending with a top teacher. And I studied programming, ending with a top company :) If you don't like my metronome, that's your business, but thanks for the plug. I have to say a lot of people seem to think it's really nifty.

September 25, 2008 at 05:32 AM · Sergei Koussevitzky (Tanglewood founder, Koussevitzky Music Foundations) was an exceptional double bass player and music director of the Boston Symphony.

Manfred Honeck, new music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra, is a violist from the VPO.

September 25, 2008 at 04:43 AM · Jim,

You've killed yourself long ago--or should have !

A few people have eternally left V COM because they could no longer read your meaningless

responses to MANY posts on this site !!!

It's obvious,you have NO life.

Perhaps consider not sharing your utter oblivion

with others who do play the violin !!!

September 25, 2008 at 05:20 AM · Joe, my posts are as valid as anyone else's :))

September 25, 2008 at 05:39 AM · Jim,

Your posts are detrimental,vague,inept,illogical,

forlorn,inexcusable,disdainfully ignorant,abhorrent,musty,vain,and a myriad of other adjectives.

Forever,you have been chided upon same-yet you continue in a most woe full undertaking of no regard.

Others have commented upon your insidious remarks,but they have no validity upon your lightness of brain matter,incorporated into your

decrypted synapses of material to deploy.

In short you represent a clear and undeniable

fallacy which must be dealt with BUT you do not have the wherewithal to comprehend your inadequacies to the least whim.

You deserve not a whit of sympathy,for you have clearly gone way astray in your vain attempts at conversing re violin and a veritable host of other topics,of which your responses are utterly inadequate.

You are a true detriment to this site and all of the world.Get some air,relieve yourself--do something to reconstitute yourself and the internet world of your continuous ineptitude...

September 25, 2008 at 05:48 AM · I'm not sure you're qualified to evaluate all that, with you being a nutcase. On the other hand, I try to come down on the side of equal opportunity for all.

September 25, 2008 at 06:00 AM · Jim,

Editing your previous comments is not really conducive to an ongoing message.

September 25, 2008 at 06:20 AM · You wouldn't take lessons from "Slava"? Why not?

September 25, 2008 at 06:11 AM · Wouldn't want to take lessons from a "rube"

who has "learnt" inopportunely !

September 25, 2008 at 06:14 AM · because you lack the facility to comprehend same !!!!

September 25, 2008 at 06:22 AM · Stuff I can't comprehend generally amuses me.

September 25, 2008 at 06:36 AM · your continual editing of your posts


check the times of the above !!!!!!!

September 25, 2008 at 07:22 AM · hmmm.

September 25, 2008 at 06:44 AM · Jim,


September 25, 2008 at 07:05 AM · I'm sick physically from splitting a gut.

September 25, 2008 at 05:30 PM · If I may interrupt to make a comment on the topic of the discussion. . .

Jaap van Zweden had a nice career going as concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra (a position he won at 18 or 19 and held for 16 years), but since 1995 has been conducting pretty much exclusively. He just started as music director of the Dallas Symphony, and everyone is raving (in a positive way) about him.

September 25, 2008 at 05:46 PM · Walter Weller.

September 25, 2008 at 06:14 PM · Thomas Zehetmair (Northern Sinfonia) and Sándor Végh (Camerata Academica in Salzburg). Leonidas Kavakos became artistic director of the Camerata recently and conducts quite often there.

September 25, 2008 at 08:04 PM · Eugene Ysaÿe was principal conductor of Cincinnati Symphony for four years (having turned down the same post with the NY Phil much earlier in his career).

September 25, 2008 at 10:49 PM · Iona Brown, Milton Katims....and let us not forget composers who conducted their works who were string players, like Dvorak and Elgar

September 25, 2008 at 10:57 PM · Greetings,

I`d forgotten about the great Iona Brown who I heard so many times, especially at the Proms. Alweays handicapped by being programmed as

Iona Brown violin.

Bit of a shame.



September 26, 2008 at 04:42 AM · Vanessa Mae, too. Own one, I mean.

And by the way, anybody remember Henri Temianka? (Not including Mrs. Temianka.)

September 26, 2008 at 04:47 AM · Doesn't Pearlman do a little bit of conducting as well. I saw him conduct Gil Shahams Barber Concerto.

September 26, 2008 at 11:33 PM · Jaap Van Zweden.

Past concertmaster of the NY Phil.

He's INCREDIBLE and astounding!

September 26, 2008 at 11:40 PM · Lim Kek-Tjiang. What he lacks in violin immortality, he makes up for in...well, judge for yourself.

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