“Music for Frustrated Conductors” on RCA LSC-2325

Music for Frustrated Conductors

Issued by RCA in 1959 as a box set; the UK version is 3/4″ (or 2 cm thick).
Inlaid diagonally across the front panel is an actual wooden baton measuring 16.3″ (or 41.5 cm) long.
With its die-cut design and baton, the set could not have been cheap to manufacture. It seems doubtful to me, despite the album’s very engaging appearance, that it sold well. Perhaps RCA took a bath.
The charming cover art bears the illustrator’s name (to the left of the mirror), but I cannot make it out, alas. Boasting the likes of Arthur Fiedler and Morton Gould, the performances are absolutely first rate.

Who can honestly say that they have not at some point, in the privacy of their own home, conducted the New York, Berlin, or Vienna Philharmonic? Cueing the brass through the final glorious chords to rousing applause, and then be left gasping for breath, perspiring even, and finally wondering how conductors do it? 

[The Editor will admit to this, though you won’t have caught me out recently. In my younger years I conducted the brilliant final measures of the Ritual Fire Dance from Falla’s La vida breve. Leonard Bernstein was doing the same on the turntable beside me, rather more authentically, and I must say the NYPO, blasting through the speakers, sounded fantastic.] 

It is a common, irresistible fantasy. And good cardio, though those of a certain age should perhaps exercise some caution. Among those conductors who died on the podium are Eduard van Beinum, Fausto Cleva, Arvīds Jansons, Joseph Keilberth, Fritz Lehmann, and Dimitri Mitropoulos, though at least they died with their boots on, while the Editor would have been found in his pajamas, a bit less dignified (and hopefully omitted from the obituary). This has probably happened to some living room conductor. 

In any case, record producers were certainly aware of the appeal and thus RCA brought out this deluxe, charming set. Featuring excerpts from recordings by Arthur Fiedler, Robert Russell Bennett and Morton Gould, “Music for Frustrated Conductors” also included visual instructions and eloquent notes by no less than composer Deems Taylor (1885-1966). 

Visual Instructions and Notes by Deems Taylor in Issue 5 – available in your subscriber account – on page 40.