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Here’s another maestro who loves his work a little too much

This is the Volksoper in Vienna, where the prompt cameras can turn unexpectedly candid.

Last year, Guido Mancusi was conducting Ravel’s Bolero in a ballet evening, when he forgot about the cuecam and, around 3:00 starts making the moves.

When you’ve watched that, here’s the original showstopper from the pit of the Vienna Volksoper.


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  1. Wonderful! Hysterical when he starts playing air guitar!!

  2. Olin Williams says:

    I love it! He is into it and honestly, the piece can pretty much play itself so he is having some fun.

  3. This reminds me a bit of Jerry Lewis’ wonderful pantomime from “The Errand Boy” over the incredible music of Count Basie. See:

  4. Hans Sørensen says:

    And of cause Celibidache with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra:

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      OMG. I know you all hate my anecdotes, but here goes:

      Celi told the Curtis orch in 1984: we will do an encore, the second movement of the Scythian Suite (which concluded the program) and I know you like this vulgar music because you play it so well; and, during the encore, I shall shake my rear-end in the face of the audience in Carnegie Hall. The students roared laughing because they didn’t believe him. But he did! He shook his considerable posterior left to right and right to left in this deliberate tempo at the beginning of this monster dance:

      The Bolero video is a perfect example of his ability to “perform” in the best sense and sometime in the worst sense of the word. He was unique, annoying, inspiring, and very hard to figure out. A force on the podium, a great conductor, definitely; a musician for the ages? I’ll take Kleiber (Carlos!).

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        PS: Principal clarinet for this concert was Burt Hara who gotten a bit of ink lately with his move from principal in Minnesota to LA Phil as associate.

      • As I mention above, Celibidache’s sexism was notorious. One of his first actions when he conducted at Curtis was to remove the first trombonist, Debbie Taylor, from her position and move her down in the section. The rehearsals had not even begun. He just didn’t want a woman on first trombone. And of course, there was no one at Curtis willing to challenge him on that. He did the same thing to the concertmaster, Anja Trautwein, at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. There too, everyone groveled.

        • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

          The concertmaster at Curtis in 1984 for the Celibidache concert at Carnegie was a woman who is now a member of the Chicago Symphony first violin section. He seemed happy with her playing and leadership. Concerning the trombone change, if you say it’s true, it must be so, but I have no recollection of it. Celi had many personal prejudices, to be sure. I am told that he refused to accept American brass players for S-H-F. I believe that one year (and I know you will correct me if I am wrong), they had a multinational brass section for LB and then made changes for SC so that there were no American trained players blowing hot air through cold pipes. We both must be getting old, because we are starting to repeat ourselves (same comments made in June 2012 as Slipped Disc commemorated Celibidache’s centennial).

          • Yes, it’s unfortunate that Debbie went down quietly. I wish she had resisted more so that people would have taken more notice. I don’t know about the concertmaster you mention, but the Munich Phil had a woman solo violist who was also not allowed to sit in the first position when he conducted. At the moment I can’t remember her name, but I can get it from Abbie if needed.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Robert Fitzpatrick says:
            June 13, 2013 at 7:40 am

            “I am told that he refused to accept American brass players for S-H-F. I believe that one year (and I know you will correct me if I am wrong), they had a multinational brass section for LB and then made changes for SC so that there were no American trained players blowing hot air through cold pipes.”

            I dimly remember that during the second or third year of SHMF, they did Bruckner 4 with SC and all the horn hopefuls – or maybe all of the brass players – had to go to Munich to audition for “the master” personally. One guy who made it and played 1st horn now is one of the principals of the Gewandhausorchester.

    • Celibidache was notorious for his abuse of musicians. As we see here, the videos of his work are often remarkable studies of sadism and control. In Munich, as usual, he wanted to fire musicians – 18 to be exact. My wife was in the orchestra. Her strong resistance against his sexism and abuse became well-known and served as a buffer that helped keep those musicians from being fired. You can read about her experiences in the Munich Phil here:

      Celibidache tried working in Italy, France, the UK, and Scandinavia, but the musicians would not tolerate his abuses. After short tenures he always had to leave. Even in Stuttgart he was run off – though it took longer to reach the musicians’ limits.

      It was in Munich that Celibidache found his spiritual home. It was revealing to see how the musicians and administrators grovelingly worshipped him even as he sadistically abused them. It revealed some of the darker sides of Western culture and classical music. In 1998 M.I.T. Press published an article I wrote based in part on these observations entitled “Symphony Orchestras and Artist-Prophets.” You can read it here:

      Naturually, there will be resentful reactions to my comment. Forgive me if I do not respond to abusive and insubstantive posts.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        I’m not expecting you to reply to this post, William, but seeing as you’re well-informed about women in orchestras, you’ll know about a certain brilliant lady violinist who is one of the leaders of the Vienna Philharmonic (!) and the gender of the person allegedly responsible for hounding her out of her previous position in Munich? It cuts both ways…

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        And by the way: Why hijack this thread with your obsession?

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        william osborne says:
        June 13, 2013 at 6:53 am

        “Naturually, there will be resentful reactions to my comment. Forgive me if I do not respond to abusive and insubstantive posts.”

        You never respond to anyone who contradicts you anyway, no matter in what way or tone they respond – you even put on your passive-aggressive victim act before anyone even gets the chance to respond. That’s become an all too well known MO by now. It really doesn’t fit at all with the courageous activist persona you are trying to build up here.

  5. Although such passion and outward frivolity may rankle with many English readers, I actually think Mancusi is giving an object lesson in musical character. I do not know him, and have never worked with him in any capacity, but I suspect I might prefer the experience to that with some I have worked for in the past. Even if 10% of what he does is purely ‘fun’ he is still communicating with his musicians. 90% of what he does is a legitimate, if sometimes unorthodox, way of driving the performance. The nuances and corners he pursues most determinedly are precisely the ones that tend to get smoothed over with repeated ‘routine performances’ . Maybe you have to be both a conductor, and a particular kind of musician to see it that way, but I will stand by what I say.
    Yes, the clip made me smile, but mainly because he cared more about Ravel’s music than how he looked on a CCTV cam!
    I’m even reminded of some of the wonderful phrase-driven moves of the great Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, back in his days with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

  6. Stephen says:

    What we are seeing is what the orchestra sees. No matter the gestures, the pulse and the shaping are all there and heard. It seems that the adage. music begins when the mechanics are firmly in place, is as apt for the conductor as for the musician. His exuberance will certainly be distracting to some but this strange piece is one that forces even the audience to move.
    I really appreciated this video. would have liked to see the full version.

  7. Keep in mind that this was in an orchestra pit, so the audience would not have seen most of those gestures. He is conducting for the music and the musicians, and not just making some show for the public. So I personally approve.

    Btw, it looks like he got most of his experience with the Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra ( so perhaps conducting all that Strauss and operetta was a good school of conductor training!

  8. Performing Artist52 says:

    As a dancer, I loved watching these videos! It is fun to watch these conductors having fun when they conduct! They know the music so well that they can express the music physically as we dancers do. It is always interesting to watch conductors. My daughter attended a concert with me when Osmo Vanska was conducting and said it looked like he was doing an interpretive dance! He also gets into the music fully while he is conducting.

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