Marin Alsop came into Classic FM and told us how to conduct Rachmaninov

8 June 2015, 14:15

The brilliant conductor Marin Alsop popped by the Classic FM office and happened to have her score of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances with her. So we asked her to talk us through how to conduct this epic piece.


Thoughtlessly, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances opens with a rest, which causes the conductor a headache before the piece even begins, as Marin explains:

Marin Alsop on how to conduct Rachmaninov



But that’s not even the trickiest bit…

We asked Marin to talk us through the section she thinks is the hardest for the conductor. It comes towards the end of the second movement, she says:

Marin Alsop on Rachmaninov's tricky sections



And her favourite section?

You know the end of the Symphonic Dances where the piece gets a bit crazy, with cymbals crashing and a major part for huge gong. THAT PART. That’s Marin’s favourite part. Think it would be ours too…

Marin Alsop on the tam tam


Her top tip for young conductors…

And it's really straight-forward.

Marin Alsop's conducting tips



Marin's recording of Prokofiev's Symphony No.3 with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra is out now and available on iTunes and Amazon. Her recording of Bernstein's Missa Brevis, Symphony No.3 'Kaddish' and The Lark is out in September.

Classic FM Apps

Get the Classic FM app for iPhone, iPad and Android - now with HD audio

Musical abbreviations quiz

You won’t get 20/20 on this quiz if you don’t know your musical abbreviations

musician would you rather

This musician edition of Would You Rather is completely excruciating

greatest best man speech

Everyone is saying this pianist gave the greatest best man speech of all time