Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

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Ken
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Ken » Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:54 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Ken wrote:Do we measure greatness in terms of impact and influence? If so, then probably Furtwängler, Toscanini, and Karajan---not necessarily in that order.
Turning your back on Christoph von Dohnányi I see... :wink:
I might be biased, but I'm not blind to history! ;)
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:46 am

Ken wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
Ken wrote:Do we measure greatness in terms of impact and influence? If so, then probably Furtwängler, Toscanini, and Karajan---not necessarily in that order.
Turning your back on Christoph von Dohnányi I see... :wink:
I might be biased, but I'm not blind to history! ;)
They are three of my least favourite Conductors...really... :mrgreen:
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Wallingford
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Wallingford » Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:21 am

Lance wrote:Recorded too little? I just counted approximately 300 CDs with Monteux's participation. He recorded prolifically, as did Schuricht and Furtwängler, especially if you consider all the live recordings issued alongside the commercial discs which were often fewer in count than the live recordings. With Reiner, I have about 200 CDs of his work represented, including, of course, live performance and reissues, etc. Of course, I do get the drift of your comment nonetheless. On the other hand there are few (if any) of the silent era actors/actresses whose work I collect. (Probably I am missing something. The only exception to that is the silent films of Charlie Chaplin.
Wallingford wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:How odd that so many folks here chose as "greatest" conductors who recorded so relatively little---Carlos Kleiber, Horenstein, Monteux, even Beecham, Furtwängler, Schuricht and Reiner. And much of it not even in hi-fi. It would be like choosing the greatest actor/actress of the last century from the "silent era".....there is simply too much missing.
What standards are you using, Jack? Number of works, or number of recorded performances?
EXACTLY.....and look at Beecham.

He had overlapping recording contracts in the 1950s; and his pre-war LPO discs? He cranked 'em out like hotcakes. And his later RPO years were just about as prolific. And then there's that humongeous body of concertr recordings: the BBC's still sitting on a bunch of them they never released on their own label. And the variety of ensembles on record: besides British orchestras (including Covent Garden), there are the New York Phil., the Los Angeles Phil., the Boston Sym., the Detroit Sym., the CBS, NBC and ABC Sym's.,The Chicago Sym., the Montreal Sym., the Toronto Sym., the Seattle Sym., the Philadelphia Orch., France's ORTF, and tons more I can't dredge up from my brain this early in the morning without a java jolt.

Altogether, close to 150 concerts.
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That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
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pizza
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by pizza » Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:04 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:How odd that so many folks here chose as "greatest" conductors who recorded so relatively little--,. . . . . Horenstein, . . . . .
Jack

I said Horenstein was one of the most versatile conductors, and prefaced my remarks with the caveat that it's impossible to choose a single greatest conductor.

As for having "recorded so relatively little":

http://turing.cs.camosun.bc.ca:8080/Hor ... iscography

http://www.musicweb-international.com/c ... graphy.htm

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:38 am

Wallingford wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:How odd that so many folks here chose as "greatest" conductors who recorded so relatively little---Carlos Kleiber, Horenstein, Monteux, even Beecham, Furtwängler, Schuricht and Reiner. And much of it not even in hi-fi. It would be like choosing the greatest actor/actress of the last century from the "silent era".....there is simply too much missing.
What standards are you using, Jack? Number of works, or number of recorded performances?
Generally, number of available stereo performances. Mono/non hi-fi just don't do it for me, so Schuricht's recording of Schumann's Second or Toscanini's of Beethoven's Fifth are of some historical interest to me, but not approaching live performances standards. For whatever it's worth, we have a VERY sensitive stereo set, which brings out all the imperfections of any recording.

In Ormandy's or Reiner's day, it wasn't the normal procedure to tackle any one composer's complete symphonic output, but some did, e.g., Münch, Paray and Szell were among the first to record the Schumann cycle. I don't know of anyone who at the time did the Tschaikowsky cycle----and no one back then did more than a couple of those by Bruckner or Mahler.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

maestrob
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by maestrob » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:21 am

Jack:

Dorati recorded an excellent Tchaikovsky symphony cycle with the London Symphony back in the 1960's, FWIW.

Istvan
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Istvan » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:51 am

If I could choose only one it would have to be.....
Cheers

Istvan

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josé echenique
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by josé echenique » Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:14 am

Istvan wrote:If I could choose only one it would have to be.....
....Istvan Kertesz? :evil: :evil:

smitty1931
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by smitty1931 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:44 pm

THAT LOOKS LIKE SOLTI. i SAW HIM CONDUCT BORIS AT THE MET.

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Wallingford » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:06 pm

Jack also apparently neglected to mention Weingartner's complete Beethoven & Brahms cycles (hey, now there's a maestro to start a thread on!!).
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Jack Kelso
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:56 am

Wallingford wrote:Jack also apparently neglected to mention Weingartner's complete Beethoven & Brahms cycles (hey, now there's a maestro to start a thread on!!).
Yes, I'm aware of Weingartner's AND Furtwängler's cycles, but I don't count them for me unless they're in stereo (or at least hi-fi). The three conductors I mentioned recorded theirs in stereo. I also have the Furtwängler Schumann Fourth, and while it's interesting I know of more recent recordings that are more intense, stick closer to the composer's intentions (i.e. the score) and have far better sound (1852 version---original scoring, of course!).

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:59 am

maestrob wrote:Jack:

Dorati recorded an excellent Tchaikovsky symphony cycle with the London Symphony back in the 1960's, FWIW.
Now THERE is a set I'd like to get! I love Dorati's style (we share a birthday, 9 April!).

How does he do them? Have you heard them?

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

maestrob
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by maestrob » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:03 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
maestrob wrote:Jack:

Dorati recorded an excellent Tchaikovsky symphony cycle with the London Symphony back in the 1960's, FWIW.
Now THERE is a set I'd like to get! I love Dorati's style (we share a birthday, 9 April!).

How does he do them? Have you heard them?

Tschüß,
Jack
Quite energetic and straightforward, as you would expect from Dorati. Unfortunately, Amazon lists the set as discontinued, but they offer an .mp3 download, if you're interested in that. Great stuff!

Image

http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Symph ... 552&sr=1-5

I also recommend the Markevitch sets on Phillips, which are available on Amazon (4-6 in download form only):

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Wallingford » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:48 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Jack also apparently neglected to mention Weingartner's complete Beethoven & Brahms cycles (hey, now there's a maestro to start a thread on!!).
Yes, I'm aware of Weingartner's AND Furtwängler's cycles, but I don't count them for me unless they're in stereo (or at least hi-fi). The three conductors I mentioned recorded theirs in stereo. I also have the Furtwängler Schumann Fourth, and while it's interesting I know of more recent recordings that are more intense, stick closer to the composer's intentions (i.e. the score) and have far better sound (1852 version---original scoring, of course!).

Tschüß,
Jack
Well, as long as you're adhering to those criteria: Ormandy did complete Beethoven and Brahms cycles during the stereo era (a darn good Brahms cycle, all told).....Rachmaninoff, too.

AND a complete Tchaikovsky cycle in the RCA stereo era--Manfred included.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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maestrob
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by maestrob » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:31 pm

Wallingford wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Jack also apparently neglected to mention Weingartner's complete Beethoven & Brahms cycles (hey, now there's a maestro to start a thread on!!).
Yes, I'm aware of Weingartner's AND Furtwängler's cycles, but I don't count them for me unless they're in stereo (or at least hi-fi). The three conductors I mentioned recorded theirs in stereo. I also have the Furtwängler Schumann Fourth, and while it's interesting I know of more recent recordings that are more intense, stick closer to the composer's intentions (i.e. the score) and have far better sound (1852 version---original scoring, of course!).

Tschüß,
Jack
Well, as long as you're adhering to those criteria: Ormandy did complete Beethoven and Brahms cycles during the stereo era (a darn good Brahms cycle, all told).....Rachmaninoff, too.

AND a complete Tchaikovsky cycle in the RCA stereo era--Manfred included.
I'm not aware that Ormandy either recorded or performed the early Tchaikovsky Symphonies: that's a new one on me! He did record IV, V & VI and the completed VII, but I've never seen or heard of I, II or III until now....... :?: :?:

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:51 pm

I once heard Ormandy's Brahms First, but never dreamed he did all four in stereo! Was this on Columbia? Why haven't I ever seen them in shops over the last forty years or so...?! :shock:

Reiner did the Brahms Third and Fourth. His Third is in a category all by itself. His Fourth has a bit too munch rubato at the coda of the 1st movement for my taste.

My bottom line: why do so many music-lovers feel that all---or most---of the truly "great" conductors lived in the pre-hi-fi/stereo era?

German radio occasionally brings "historische Aufnahmen" (historical recordings).....so I've heard dozens of these from the 1920's up through the 1950's. Thereafter, most are in stereo. I was amazed just a few weeks ago to find the famous and acclaimed Hans Rosbaud/SWR Sinfonieorchester performance of Bruckner's Seventh in STEREO! I snapped it up, natch! Sounds terrific!

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Barry
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Barry » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:09 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:I once heard Ormandy's Brahms First, but never dreamed he did all four in stereo! Was this on Columbia? Why haven't I ever seen them in shops over the last forty years or so...?! :shock:
Here are Ormandy's Brahms symphony recordings:

Brahms
Sym. No.1 [M]50/11/05 (C)
Sym. No.1 [M] LIVE in Moscow 58/05/29 (Melodiya) LP M10-47161
Sym. No.1 [S]59/02/08 (C)
Sym. No.1 [S]68/05/19 (C)
Sym. No.2 [M]40/02/26 (R)
Sym. No.2 [M]53/02/15 (C)
Sym. No.2 [S]66/04/06 (C)
Sym. No.3 [M]46/04/19 (C)
Sym. No.3 [S]67/01/31 + 67/03/13 (C)
Sym. No.4 [M]44/11/19 (C)
Sym. No.4 [S]67/10/25 (C)

C=Columbia
R=RCA

The 60s recordings of the 1st and 2nd were available for a pretty long time on a two-disc set from the Sony Essential Classics line. The stereo 4th was rereleased as part of the Ormandy Great Conductors of the Century release on EMI. I don't think the 3rd has been commercially available on CD, but the opening movement is one of the more powerful on record. The recordings of the 1st and 4th are also very good, as is the earlier stereo 1st.
I wouldn't put Ormandy up there with Furtwangler, Walter or Jochum as a Brahms conductor, but he was better than average; much better as a Brahms conductor than he was as a Beethoven conductor, IMO.
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:18 pm

Barry wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:I once heard Ormandy's Brahms First, but never dreamed he did all four in stereo! Was this on Columbia? Why haven't I ever seen them in shops over the last forty years or so...?! :shock:
Here are Ormandy's Brahms symphony recordings:

Brahms
Sym. No.1 [M]50/11/05 (C)
Sym. No.1 [M] LIVE in Moscow 58/05/29 (Melodiya) LP M10-47161
Sym. No.1 [S]59/02/08 (C)
Sym. No.1 [S]68/05/19 (C)
Sym. No.2 [M]40/02/26 (R)
Sym. No.2 [M]53/02/15 (C)
Sym. No.2 [S]66/04/06 (C)
Sym. No.3 [M]46/04/19 (C)
Sym. No.3 [S]67/01/31 + 67/03/13 (C)
Sym. No.4 [M]44/11/19 (C)
Sym. No.4 [S]67/10/25 (C)

C=Columbia
R=RCA

The 60s recordings of the 1st and 2nd were available for a pretty long time on a two-disc set from the Sony Essential Classics line. The stereo 4th was rereleased as part of the Ormandy Great Conductors of the Century release on EMI. I don't think the 3rd has been commercially available on CD, but the opening movement is one of the more powerful on record. The recordings of the 1st and 4th are also very good, as is the earlier stereo 1st.
I wouldn't put Ormandy up there with Furtwangler, Walter or Jochum as a Brahms conductor, but he was better than average; much better as a Brahms conductor than he was as a Beethoven conductor, IMO.
What?! Eugen Jochum as a Brahms interpreter!? I heard him live in Los Angeles with the Amsterdam Concertgeboew in Brahms' First. Even back in 1961 I recognized a poor performance, and my college music teacher agreed with me. Jochum switched tempi off and on. Well....perhaps his studio recordings are a bit different.....

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Barry » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:23 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: What?! Eugen Jochum as a Brahms interpreter!? I heard him live in Los Angeles with the Amsterdam Concertgeboew in Brahms' First. Even back in 1961 I recognized a poor performance, and my college music teacher agreed with me. Jochum switched tempi off and on. Well....perhaps his studio recordings are a bit different.....

Tschüß,
Jack
While I prefer Furtwangler in 1 and 4 and Walter/NY in 2 and 3, I'd probably rate the Jochum/BPO recordings from the early 50s on DG as the best complete Brahms symphony set on the market in terms of being consistently excellent throughout all four recordings (unless you demand stereo, of course ... but this Jochum has high quality sound for a mono release). Then there is his wonderful recording of the D-Minor concerto with the BPO and Gilels. The orchestral accompanyment in that recording is nothing short of spectacular.

Of course, Jochum's style and use of rubato is always going to rub some people the wrong way. I'm not one of those people though.
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Heck148 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:47 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:Reiner did the Brahms Third and Fourth. His Third is in a category all by itself. His Fourth has a bit too munch rubato at the coda of the 1st movement for my taste.
There is a live Reiner Brahms Sym #2 with NYPO from 1960 - it is a knockout - very thrilling..

His 4th with RoyPo is one of the very best -along with Toscanini/NBC - at the top of the heap.

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by pizza » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:50 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: I was amazed just a few weeks ago to find the famous and acclaimed Hans Rosbaud/SWR Sinfonieorchester performance of Bruckner's Seventh in STEREO! I snapped it up, natch! Sounds terrific!
That recording has been around since the days of early stereo LPs, coupled with Rosbaud's fine recording of Mahler's Das Lied with Grace Hoffmann and Helmut Melchert, same orchestra. The Mahler was recorded in 1957 and the Bruckner in '58. Vox reissued both recordings in a remastered Vox Box Legends two CD set in 1995. Both are great performances.

THEHORN
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by THEHORN » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:56 pm

Jack,I've never believed that "all the greatest conductors lived before the stereo/Hi Fi era", although many nostalgia-minded critics and fans today seem to think so.
Stokowski ,Reiner, Ormandy, Barbirolli, Kubelik, Paray, Steinberg,
Monteux,Munch, Szell, and other great names all lived long enough to make acclaimed recordings in good sound.
And the present day is hardly lacking in great conductors.
Any age which has the likes of Abbado,Barenboim,Boulez,Blomstedt,
Chailly, Dutoit, Dohnanyi, Colin Davis, Gergiev,Gardiner, Haitink,Harnoncourt, Jarvi, Jansons, Levine, Muti, Mackerras,Masur,
Nagano, Ozawa,Previn, Rattle,Rozhdestvensky, Salonen, Skrowaczewski, Slatkin, Thomas, Temirkanov,Thielemann, and Zinman, to name only some , has nothing to be ashamed of.
And with great young talents such as Dudamel, Nezet-Seguin,Jurowski, etc coming into prominence, the future of conducting looks very promising.

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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:49 am

THEHORN wrote:Jack,I've never believed that "all the greatest conductors lived before the stereo/Hi Fi era", although many nostalgia-minded critics and fans today seem to think so.
Stokowski ,Reiner, Ormandy, Barbirolli, Kubelik, Paray, Steinberg,
Monteux,Munch, Szell, and other great names all lived long enough to make acclaimed recordings in good sound.
And the present day is hardly lacking in great conductors.
Any age which has the likes of Abbado,Barenboim,Boulez,Blomstedt,
Chailly, Dutoit, Dohnanyi, Colin Davis, Gergiev,Gardiner, Haitink,Harnoncourt, Jarvi, Jansons, Levine, Muti, Mackerras,Masur,
Nagano, Ozawa,Previn, Rattle,Rozhdestvensky, Salonen, Skrowaczewski, Slatkin, Thomas, Temirkanov,Thielemann, and Zinman, to name only some , has nothing to be ashamed of.
And with great young talents such as Dudamel, Nezet-Seguin,Jurowski, etc coming into prominence, the future of conducting looks very promising.
I agree completely. And thanks to all here for the great info about some older stereo recordings of which I knew not. :o

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Istvan
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Re: Who was the greatest conductor of the 20th century?

Post by Istvan » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:23 am

"Abbado,Barenboim,Boulez,Blomstedt, Chailly, Dutoit, Dohnanyi, Colin Davis, Gergiev,Gardiner, Haitink,Harnoncourt, Jarvi, Jansons, Levine, Muti, Mackerras,Masur,
Nagano, Ozawa,Previn, Rattle,Rozhdestvensky, Salonen, Skrowaczewski, Slatkin, Thomas, Temirkanov,Thielemann, and Zinman"


It rather depends on what one means by 'great' - more, surely, than just being more or less well known. There are thirty names here. If one were to put them into three divisions I'm not sure even then that all ten of the 'first division' would qualify as 'great'.
Cheers

Istvan

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