9 Stories

'Child Prodigy' Conductor Dies at 84

Lorin Maazel's glittering career spanned 75 years

(Newser) - The controversial but undeniably brilliant conductor Lorin Maazel has died at the age of 84—some 75 years after he began conducting orchestras as a 9-year-old child prodigy. Maazel, who conducted an average of two orchestras a week during his long career and performed with more than 200 orchestras, died... More »

Yes, Orchestra Conductors Make a Difference

Infrared lights on a baton help prove it: Study

(Newser) - Skeptics might think orchestra conductors are superfluous as they stand front and center waving their batons, but a new study suggests otherwise. In fact, the University of Maryland research concludes that the more forceful a conductor is, the better the music, reports NPR . Researchers put infrared lights on a conductor'... More »

LA Shows the Love to 28-Year-Old Maestro

Gustavo Dudamel takes up baton at leading American orchestra

(Newser) - The Los Angeles Philharmonic greeted its new music director yesterday with waves, cheers, and bursts of brass and strings, and cameras tailed the new boss as he hugged his principal musicians. It wasn't a standard first day, but Gustavo Dudamel of Venezuela isn't a standard maestro—he's only 28 years... More »

Couple's Pact Worries Anti-Suicide Groups

(Newser) - Anti-suicide campaigners fear that the death of a British conductor and his wife in a Swiss suicide clinic this week will cause a rise in "together forever" suicides among the elderly, the Times of London reports. Edmund Downes, 85, chose to die alongside his terminally ill wife. Church groups... More »

Conductor Downes, Wife End Lives in Swiss Suicide Clinic

Couple faced failing health

(Newser) - British conductor Edward Downes and his wife, Joan, have died at a Swiss suicide clinic, ending their lives “under circumstances of their own choosing,” the couple’s children said today. Downes, 85, was largely blind and Joan, 74, had cancer, the Times of London reports, which their children... More »

Chinese Virtuoso Conducts Assault on Glass Ceiling

Classical superstar Xian Zhang is young, energetic—and a woman

(Newser) - In the traditional world of classical music, no area has been less hospitable to women than the conductor’s platform. So it’s remarkable that one of the world’s hottest maestros is not just a woman, but a 35-year-old from China—Xian Zhang, associate conductor at the New York... More »

Robo-Maestro Takes Baton

Honda robot manages to wow Detroit audience despite limitations

(Newser) - It was classical music, but when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hit its final note last night, it sounded an awful lot like the future. Honda’s Asimo robot led a real, live, human orchestra, and though the android was only repeating the recorded movements of a human, the performance went... More »

Shhh! Europe Law Forces Orchestras to Tone It Down

Noise legislation means musicians are playing musical chairs, the real game

(Newser) - A new law in Europe to protect employees from ear-damaging noises is stifling a surprise industry—orchestras. Conductors are taking it down a notch to comply, in one case canceling a world premiere because it exceeded the allowable decibels in rehearsal, the New York Times reports. At the Royal Opera... More »

Pavarotti Lipsynched Last Performance

Late tenor too sick to sing live at Turin Olympics opening ceremony

(Newser) - Lipsynching isn't just for neophytes like Nikki Hilton—none other than tenor Luciano Pavarotti faked his way through his final public performance at the opening of the Turin Winter Olympics, the Guardian reports. In a new book, Pavarotti's conductor and pianist claims that he recorded the cancer-stricken tenor and the... More »

9 Stories