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Today in WMH: Birth of the Maestro Profession

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6/19 Today in Weird Music History: 1820. 193 years ago, Louis Spohr was fed up trying to keep the orchestra together while playing his violin.  Prior to 1820, orchestra concerts were led from either the concertmaster chair or a keyboard.  But as music became more complicated, the need for a leader to beat time and develop a universal interpretation became a necessity.  So, Louis Spohr took the baton on this date and became a the first modern maestro–the first to silently lead an orchestra with a stick of wood.  Controversial at first, it soon became clear that the invention of the conductor had many advantages, including the expansion of forces to previously unimaginable sizes.  Within a couple of decades, typical orchestral forces would grow into an ensemble of over 100 musicians. And while Spohr’s compositions are rather forgettable, later maestro-composers such as Wagner and Mahler owe much to his decision to wave the stick.

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2 Comments

  1. shoreacres says:

    What an interesting tidbit. So often, it isn’t possible to pinpoint the moment “this” or “that” happened. Huzzah for Louis Spohr!

  2. wjkelley says:

    Reblogged this on Enlightenment and commented:
    And not much has really changed since then…we’re still just waving a stick in utter frustration.

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