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With or without the baton ? That is the question (28)

Whether a piece demands andante cantabile or largissimo, the "stick" has the final say. Balanced in the maestro's hand, the baton marks out the rhythm and delimits space. Way back in the 17th century, French composer Lully once beat his staff so vigorously that he delivered himself a fatal blow! Meanwhile in London, the ungainly staff was perhaps unsurprisingly giving way to the lighter and more graceful baton.

However, conductors over time have proven that they don't need wands to create musical magic. Musicians will follow their maestro through hell and high water in pursuit of the ultimate musical moment–even if the maestro conducts with his eyes closed (Karajan), if hands replace the traditional sticks (Stokowski, Boulez, Masur, Seiji Ozawa), or if the orchestra's only clues come in the way of blinks and head wobbles (Bernstein).

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Sergiu Celibidache conducts Ravel and Debussy
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Leonard Bernstein, Larger than Life
Leonard Bernstein, Larger than Life

A Portrait by Georg Wübbolt

documentary
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Claudio Abbado conducts Mahler's Symphony No. 6, "Tragic"
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From Toscanini to Abbado, The History of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra
From Toscanini to Abbado, The History of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra

Toscanini, Furtwängler, Karajan, Menuhin, Abbado

documentary
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Arturo Toscanini conducts Wagner
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Bernstein pays tribute to Stravinsky — With Michel Béroff
Bernstein pays tribute to Stravinsky — With Michel Béroff

The Historic Stravinsky Memorial Concert, April...

concert
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Pierre Boulez conducts works by composers of the 1945 generation
Pierre Boulez conducts works by composers of the 1945 generation

With the Orchestre de Paris and the Ensemble in...

concert
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Sir Simon Rattle conducts Rameau and Berlioz
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Seiji Ozawa and Marcus Roberts Trio play Gershwin in Berlin
Seiji Ozawa and Marcus Roberts Trio play Gershwin in Berlin

Waldbühne 2003: A Gershwin Night – Berliner Phi...

concert
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Susanna Mälkki conducts Berlioz and Elgar – With Alban Gerhardt
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Karajan, or Beauty As I See It
Karajan, or Beauty As I See It

A film by Robert Dornhelm

documentary
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Gustavo Dudamel conducts Beethoven's Symphonies No. 7 and No. 8
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Daniel Barenboim conducts Nicolai, Elgar and Tchaikovsky
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Gounod's Mireille
Gounod's Mireille

Nicolas Joel (stage director), Marc Minkowski (...

opera
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Neeme Järvi: One Thousand and One Nights — With Janine Jansen
Neeme Järvi: One Thousand and One Nights — With Janine Jansen

Waldbühne 2006: Sheherazade, An Oriental Night ...

concert
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Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea
Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea

Robert Carsen (stage director), Emmanuelle Haïm...

opera
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Maestras: The Long Journey of Women to the Podium
Maestras: The Long Journey of Women to the Podium

A documentary on female conductors

documentary
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Philippe Herreweghe conducts Bach's Christmas Cantatas