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They are among the most admired and feared figures in classical music. Here are 18 of the most talented, revolutionary and formidable classical legends of all time - the great conductors.
Maazel was a child prodigy, making his podium debut at the age of eight. He had a reputation for excellent baton technique, of which he once said: “I don’t recognise stick technique per se. I don’t think I ever make the same motion twice in the same bar of music. The aim is to find a motion that responds to the need of a particular player at a particular moment. The player must be put at ease, so that he knows where he is and what is expected, and is free to concentrate on beauty of tone. There is no magic involved.”
Best known for his association with the LSO, Sir Colin Davis - who only died in 2013 - is already a legendary name in conducting. The outpouring of sadness and fondness from the classical music world when he died was incredible to witness, proving he was just as much a hit with his peers as he was with his audiences.
This larger-than-life character reigned at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He was the first classical megastar of the recording era, selling some 200 million records.
Nadia Boulanger made her conducting debut in 1912, at the age of just 24 and rose to become one of the most respected conductors and teachers of all time. She taught everyone who was anyone in the 20th century, from Copland to Elliott Carter. She's also awesome. When asked by a reporter about being a woman conductor she replied: "I've been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment."
The brilliant Russian conductor has lead many of the world's great orchestras. Few maestros can make Tchaikovsky sound so good. He is seen here conducting at the close of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Conducting has traditionally been a bit of a all-boys affair. But things are starting to change and now more and more women are making a career on the podium. Marin Alsop is one of the very best. Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony from 2002 to 2008, she also made history in 2007 as the first woman to be appointed music director of a major American orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony.
An immigrant to the USA from Hungary, Reiner rose to fame as the conductor of the Chicago Symphony. He is remembered as a champion of modern composers - but admired Mozart best of all.
Dudamel shot onto the international stage as a bright young thing in the early 2000s. He's the music director of both the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He's even conducted penguins on Sesame Street - beat that, Fritz Reiner.
Many conductors today still consider Toscanini the greatest conductor of Verdi who ever lived. Not surprising, really, seeing as he actually began his musical life playing under Verdi himself. Toscanini also gave the première performances of 'La bohème' and 'Turandot', so he's basically a legend.
No-one could conduct Berlioz's music properly - so he started conducting it himself. He notoriously had the amazing ability to hear what each single instrument was doing even when the whole orchestra was playing together.
Stokowski is best known today as the conductor in Disney's 'Fantasia' but he did a lot more besides and was still conducting right up until his death at the age of 95. He was especially noted for preferring to conduct without a baton.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has had a meteoric rise to fame since being named Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2016 (an orchestra that's developed a knack for spotting talent, as this list demonstrates). Tickets to her concerts sell like hot cakes and the music world is abuzz with talk of Mirga!
Rattle rose to international prominence as conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s. He then went on to conquer the notoriously hard to please Berlin Philharmonic, as well as his own cloud-like hair. But perhaps best of all, during the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, he took the LSO through a version of 'Chariots of Fire' with Mr. Bean on the keyboard. He is now Music Director of our Orchestra in the City of London, the London Symphony Orchestra.
Bernstein was always captivating to watch - for either his extreme movements on the podium or his emotionally charged and unusual approach to rhythm and tempo. One of classical music's real one-offs, we couldn't have a list of best conductors that didn't feature Lenny.
Ozawa broke new ground, not only as the Boston Symphony Orchestra's music director from 1973 until 2002, but also for wearing a white turtleneck when he conducted.
Another genius who recently passed away, Abbado conducted at the greatest opera houses, and directed the world's finest orchestras. He succeeded Karajan at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic - a hard act to follow – and succeeded magnificently.
Klemperer was a perfectionist and you wouldn't, as a musician, want to be at the receiving end of his rather terrifyingly intense gaze. He was friends with Mahler, too, so y'know. He knew his stuff.
Rising to fame as conductor of the City of Birmingham Orchestra in 1924, Boult famously moved very little on the podium. In 1978, meeting Mark Elder backstage after a concert, Boult said to the young conductor, "I see you're one of the sweaty ones."