Readers expecting one of my trademark rants about the new Gustavo Dudamel video game are in for a disappointment. I have to confess that news of Bravo Gustavo brought back happy memories of RCA Victor's 1959 LP Music for Frustrated Conductors which came complete with authentic wooden baton and an illustrated do-it-yourself conducting booklet written by Deems Taylor. Rather than the Symphonie Fantastique featured on Bravo Gustavo the LP included Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, a movement from Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, the waltzes from Die Fledermaus, and, my personal favourite at the time, extracts from Richard Rogers' score for the TV documentary series Victory at Sea, which can be sampled in the video below.
Arthur Fiedler, Morton Gould and Robert Russell Bennett were the un-frustrated conductors of the disc, which can be seen in the American market packaging above. If my memory is correct the UK release came in a much more sombre white box. When the 12 inch vinyl LP was released fifty years ago I was a kid of ten, and I have happy memories of hours spent alongside my parents' huge autochanger mono radiogram wielding the baton and inhaling that unique smell of hot dust on valves, or tubes if you live across the pond. It was never going to make a conductor out of me, but nevertheless I'm not going to knock Bravo Dudamel. For, as a contemporary article explained:
Actually, home conducting may be a healthy thing, according to Manhattan Psychoanalyst Dr. Edmund Bergler: it provides the amateur with sublimating relief from the gnawing "infantile megalomania" that afflicts every man who ever wanted to lift a baton.
Just more evidence that music is good for you; unless you are a musician performing new music.
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