What does a conductor actually do?

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music, Sunday 13 July 2014 9pm. Catherine Bott attempts to answer the question on many concertgoers' minds.

conductor

It's a question that many concertgoers ponder – what does a conductor actually do? 

To demonstrate the difference conductors can make to a performance, tonight Catherine Bott traces the development of conducting from its pioneering practitioners such as Lully - who beat time with a staff - and Felix Mendelssohn , who was among the first to use a baton. 

We'll hear some of the great orchestral performances of the recording era, under the direction of such giants as Toscanini, Klemperer, Herbert von Karajan and Adrian Boult. 

And Catherine explores the matter of tempo with a painfully slow version of Elgar 's Nimrod by Leonard Bernstein , and concludes with the emergence of great female conductors.