Top Ten Conductors

Top Ten orchestral conductors

Here are my personal rankings of the TOP TEN orchestra conductors. Yes… this is a very controversial topic; however, I will state these rankings based on my own studies of these musicians and my opinion of the performance results they were able to achieve:

1. Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004) Austrian
2. Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) Italian
3. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) American
4. Georg Solti (1912 –1997) Hungarian
5. Sir Simon Rattle (b 1955) British
6. Claudio Abbado (b1933) Italian
7. Bernard Haitink (b1929) Dutch
8. Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010) Australian
9. Sir Colin Davis (b1927) British
10. Pierre Boulez (b1925) French

Carlos Kleiber:

In my view, he was at the very top of the conducting profession. His commitment to excellence and his feeling for the music were amazing. Above all, he constantly urged his players to listen to the particular instrument that the composer wanted to be heard at that point in the music. He then waves everybody off, and signals to the musicians, as though he was saying: “Hey… it’s the clarinet that needs to be heard right now…” If you watch Kleiber videos, you see that smile when he is satisfied, and that’s your clue to participate fully in the magical sound that this man could produce from a group of players!

Here is Carlos Kleiber in Otto Nicolai’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, 1992:

And here’s Kleiber again in the Brahms Symphony No.4, 1st movement:

Georg Solti:

My view is that Georg Solti was a terrific leader, and a great conductor in both rehearsals and in concert. He insisted on absolutely perfect rhythm, and totally musical playing. Watch the following video (in German), and you’ll see how he asks the horn players to assure that the eighth note in the Wagner is of proper length:

And here is Solti, in short excerpts of Beethoven and Schubert:

If you’d like to, please make your comments about your favorite conductors in the space below.

Tags: Top ten conductors, Carlos Kleiber, Georg Solti, Bernstein, Toscanini

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  1. Herbert Heyman Reply

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