title

John Mauceri’s distinguished and extraordinary career has brought him not only to the world’s greatest opera companies and symphony orchestras, but also to the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood, as well as the most prestigious halls of academia. Regarded as the world’s leading performer of the music of Hollywood’s émigré composers, he has taken the lead in the preservation and performance of many kinds of music and has supervised/conducted premieres by composers as diverse as Debussy, Stockhausen, Korngold, Bernstein, Hindemith, Elfman, Ives, and Shore. As an accomplished recording artist, John Mauceri has over 70 albums to his name, and is the recipient of Grammy, Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Edison, Cannes Classique, Billboard, two Diapasons d’Or, three Emmys, and four Deutsche Schallplatten Awards.

homeimg

John Mauceri’s Biography updated

Posted January 18th, 2018

John has updated the Act Four chapter of his Biography. The full biography can be read at johnmauceri.com/biography.

You can also download the biography as a PDF.

Gramophone review of Maestros and their Music

Posted January 17th, 2018

Reviewed by Jeremy Nicholas for Gramophone

November 2017

John Mauceri is one of the few conductors who is as convincing in every genre of classical music as he is in musical theatre, film and light music. ‘Carmen’, he says, ‘is my favourite musical and Carousel is my favourite opera.’ Now 72, Mauceri is far better known in his native America than elsewhere. Gramophone readers will know him from his long tenure at the Hollywood Bowl, his recordings of Broadway musicals, the restorations and arrangements of Hollywood film scores and his resurrections of such works as Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane and Between Two Worlds, Weill ‘s The Threepenny Opera and many others besides.

Stokowski, Giulini and Bernstein were his mentors . He worked closely with the latter for 18 years, a relationship reflected in this book and its myriad ‘Lenny’ anecdotes. With 70 albums to his name and a few shelves full of awards (including two Diapasons d’Or, three Emmys and four Deutsche Schallplattens), Mauceri knows whereof he speaks.

And also how to write. This is a most engaging volume. Well before I got to the end, I felt I knew Mr Mauceri well enough to ask him round to dinner. He would make an entertaining guest, smart and sassy with an articulate, analytical approach to whatever he is conducting without the baggage of egotism or academia. The book is not an autobiography, though much of the narrative relies on his own experiences. Nor is it a handbook on conducting, though you will learn about everything a conductor has to do, and how he/she does it, with a litany of the kind of challenges every conductor must face. For example, he devotes four fascinating pages alone to handling the aria ‘In questa reggia ‘ (from Puccini’s Turandot): ‘We [conductors] are everyone on that stage as well as everyone in the orchestra pit, commenting : we are the singer, we are the character, but we know more than Turandot knows about herself and communicate that knowledge to the audience .’

Like Leonard Slatkin’s Conducting Business (Amadeus Press, 9/13), he is good on the practicalities of the conductor’s life – the travel, the loneliness, the hotels, the packing: ‘Ironically, the lighter the music, the heavier the scores. Of two pieces that fill an entire concert, ‘Mahler’s Symphony No 3 . .. is a single book of 2 31 pages weighing 20 ounces. Danny Elfman’s “Music for the Films of Tim Burton ” … is bound in 17 separate books, weighing 11 pounds .’ He posits the interesting proposition that ‘composers who were/ are conductors write the music that exhibits the greatest predisposition for realisation … Thus Mendelssohn, Wagner, Mahler and Richard Strauss tend to be easier to conduct than Verdi, Puccini or Debussy.’

As to the book’s structure and tone, Mauceri ‘s opening chapters assume the reader has not got a degree in music but is, perhaps, an interested concert-goer who likes what he/she hears and sees but does not know (or has not bothered to discover) how it all works; how it all comes together (in the different worlds of the concert hall, opera and ballet with their vastly different demands); how one man can stand in front of a hundred musicians and, without saying a word, make magical things happen by waving his arms about. Mauceri is a particularly lucid and informative guide for anyone who is not completely au fait with the essential elements of music. Then there is the conductor’s relationship with the music he is leading, with the musicians he is conducting, the audience, the owners and management, and the critics. ‘Never get into a pissing contest with a critic’, advised one former manager. ‘You will only get wet.’ Nevertheless, Mauceri doesn’t pass up the opportunity of settling a few scores.

Gossipy, insightful and (inevitably) America-centric, Mauceri’s alliterative Maestros and their Music is a record of a conductor’s 50 years on the podium in which he explores, remembers (sometimes a little too discursively), explains and justifies, and shares ‘stories told by the great men I knew, who implicitly knew I would pass them along’. It is a book in which Mauceri, both metaphorically and physically, is passing the baton to the next generation.

WSJ Review: The Allure of ‘Maestros and Their Music’

Posted January 2nd, 2018

Is the figure on the podium really a musician? What, exactly, constitutes the art of conducting? Leon Botstein reviews ‘Maestros and Their Music’ by John Mauceri.

From the Wall Street Journal review by Leon Botstein of “Maestros and Their Music”

In his self-effacing autobiography, the Russian composer and pedagogue Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov confessed that conducting “baffled” him. If Stravinsky’s teacher had a hard time making sense of what someone standing in front of an orchestra waving a baton was doing (or was supposed to be doing), how can we expect audiences to appreciate and comprehend the art of conducting? Suspicion whether there is actually anything difficult or substantial to conducting is commonplace among instrumentalists who play in orchestras or with them as soloists. To the eminent chamber musician and critic Hans Keller, conducting was just a “phony” musical profession.

Keller was annoyed, properly so, by the arrogance and affectations of most conductors. But is conducting really “phony”? When the legendary pianist Arthur Rubinstein, already in his 80s, toured Israel with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra playing concertos he knew inside and out, he realized that there would be a 50-minute “sound check” before every performance (to permit all concerned to get used to the piano and the hall at each stop). Rubinstein asked the conductor, the late Gary Bertini, whether instead of warming up with the program before one of the concerts, he might try his hand at conducting. Rubinstein had never had the opportunity to conduct.

In his self-effacing autobiography, the Russian composer and pedagogue Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov confessed that conducting “baffled” him. If Stravinsky’s teacher had a hard time making sense of what someone standing in front of an orchestra waving a baton was doing (or was supposed to be doing), how can we expect audiences to appreciate and comprehend the art of conducting? Suspicion whether there is actually anything difficult or substantial to conducting is commonplace among instrumentalists who play in orchestras or with them as soloists. To the eminent chamber musician and critic Hans Keller, conducting was just a “phony” musical profession.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cover of Italian version of Maestros and Their Music

Posted December 2nd, 2017

Here is a preview of the upcoming Italian release of Maestros and Their Music, expected April 2018.