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With or without the baton ? That is the question (29)

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).