Skip Navigation

Home Projects Publications Archives About Sign Up or Log In

Can a more dictatorial conductor elicit a stronger performance from an orchestra?

Profiles: Alessandro D'Ausilio

Karajan Centrum

Herbert von Karajan: Rehearsal of Schumann's 4th Symphony

Teaching the art of conducting an orchestra

Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

What is a "good" conductor? Is it someone who can keep the woodwinds in line? Perhaps it means someone who has strong control of the second violins? To an outsider, it may all seem quite subjective. And of course, those people who have been in an orchestra may have an entirely different take on the matter. However, an Italian researcher from the Italian Institute of Technology may have hit upon something as part of a new research project dealing with this subject. Alessandro D'Ausilio and his colleagues watched two conductors lead five excerpts from Mozart's Symphony Number 40 played by eight violinists from the Citta di Ferrara orchestra. The researchers attached infra-red reflectors to the tips of the violinists' bows and conductors' batons. In this way, Dr. D'Ausilio and his colleagues could follow the movements of both bows and batons. Drawing on the observations of expert musicians who evaluated the performances, they determined that the more dictatorial conductor was able to elicit a much stronger performance from the musicians. More work must be done, but these initial findings are quite intriguing.

The first link will take visitors to a link from The Economist which provides an overview of this recent study. The second link will whisk users away to a profile of Dr. D'Ausilio, which provides information on his research and publications. Moving along, the third link will lead interested parties to the homepage of the Karajan Centrum. Here visitors can learn about the life and times of Herbert Von Karajan, one of the most celebrated conductors of the 20th century. The fourth link leads to an excerpt of Karajan leading the Vienna Philharmonic through a rehearsal of Schumann's Fourth Symphony. The fifth link will take users to a segment from Minnesota Public Radio which profiles a program in which young professionals learn about conducting an orchestra. The final link leads to a wonderful website which introduces people to "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" composed by Benjamin Britten.
?  Cumulative Rating: (not yet rated)
Alternate Title The Science of Conducting: Von Karajan was right
GEM Subject
Date Issued 2012-09-14
Data Type
Required Software
Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2012-09-14
Archived Scout Publication URL

Resource Comments

(no comments available yet for this resource)