The Art of Conducting-Legendary Conductors of a Golden Era (1997)

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Released 8-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 114:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Peter R. Smith

Warner Vision
Starring Michael Letchford
Sergiu Celibidache
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Erich Kleiber
Willem Mengelberg
Evgeny Mravinsky
Charles Munch
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Various

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mravinsky conducting next to end titles

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Art of Conducting originated as a two-part TV series, then was adapted for release on home video as a two hour documentary entitled Great Conductors of the Past. This turned out to be so successful that they decided to make a "sequel." The Art of Conducting – Legendary Conductors Of A Golden Era was never shown on TV and has always been intended as documentary for release on home video. This time round, the narration is by Michael Letchford.

    The format of the documentary is very similar to the previous disc. We get rather lengthy excepts of historical footage of various conductors rehearsing and performing with their orchestras. In between are sandwiched brief excerpts of interviews (historical and contemporary) with musicians discussing or reminiscing about those conductors.

    Some of the conductors featured in this documentary are the same as the previous ones (eg. Wilhelm Furtwängler, Erich Kleiber and Herbert von Karajan) but others are new. Apart from Karajan, there seems to be a tendency to pick conductors from a generation that modern concert-goers would probably not have had the opportunity to see in action - which means the footage is often in black and white with mono sound.

    The conductors, orchestras and musical excerpts featured in this documentary are:

Conductor Orchestra Composer Music Year
Herbert von Karajan Berlin Philharmonic R. Strauss Ein Heldenleben 1969
Václav Talich Czech Philharmonic Dvorák The Wild Dove 1954
Hermann Scherchen Czech Philharmonic Kalinnikov Symphony No. 1 1951
André Cluytens Czech Philharmonic Ravel Rapsodie espagnole 1955
Evgeny Mravinsky Leningrad Philharmonic Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 (allegro con anima and finale) 1983
Erich Kleiber Concertgebouw J. Strauss II Künstlerleben 1949
Willem Mengelberg Concertgebouw Berlioz La Damnation de Faust (Marche hongroise) 1931
Willem Mengelberg Concertgebouw Bizet L’Arlésienne (Adagietto) (complete performance) 1931
Willem Mengelberg Concertgebouw Weber Oberon Overture (complete performance) 1931
Wilhelm Furtwängler Berlin Philharmonic J. Strauss II Kaiser-Walzer 1952
Wilhelm Furtwängler Berlin Philharmonic R. Strauss Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (complete performance) 1950
Erich Kleiber Czech Philharmonic Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (Finale), rehearsal 1949
Erich Kleiber Berlin Staatskapelle J. Strauss II An der schönen, blauen Donau (Blue Danube Waltz) (complete performance) 1932
Charles Munch Czech Philharmonic Franck Symphony in D minor, rehearsal 1957
Charles Munch Hungarian State Orchestra Ravel Daphnis et Chloé, rehearsal 1966
Charles Munch BSO Ravel Daphnis et Chloé, performance 1962
Charles Munch Boston Symphony Orchestra Debussy La mer 1962
Charles Munch Boston Symphony Orchestra Ravel Daphnis et Chloé 1962
Charles Munch Boston Symphony Orchestra Berlioz Symphonie fantastique 1962
Charles Munch Hungarian State Orchestra Debussy La mer (rehearsal) 1966
Sergiu Celibidache Berlin Philharmonic Beethoven Egmont Overture (complete performance) 1950
Sergiu Celibidache Orchestra of Süddeutscher Rundfunk R. Strauss Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (rehearsal and performance) 1964
Sergiu Celibidache Munich Philharmonic Dvorák Symphony No. 9 (Allegro) 1991
Evgeny Mravinsky Leningrad Philharmonic Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 (allegro con anima and finale) 1983
Evgeny Mravinsky Leningrad Philharmonic Shostakovich Symphony No. 5,rehearsal and performance (Moderato) 1973
Evgeny Mravinsky Leningrad Philharmonic Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, rehearsal and performance (Moderato) (Allegro non troppo) 1967

    Interviews include:

    Some of the film footage looks a bit odd, such as Mengelberg's performances which were specially recorded in Paris in a concert hall dressed up to look like the Concertgebouw, and Furtwängler's Till Eulenspiegel with dancers making an appearance in the middle of the performance. Others are decidedly haunting, such as Celibidache's Egmont recorded in the open air in a bombed-out Berlin in winter just after the Second World War.

    I found the Celibidache excerpts quite interesting as there is a chronological progression from him as a young man just after the Second World War to an old man in the 1990s and it was very interesting to see his mannerisms and looks mature and yet somehow remain the same.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is a 1.33:1 full frame transfer of variable quality.

    The contemporary interviews are in colour and recorded onto videotape and look fairly good apart from minor edge enhancement and Gibb's effect ringing. The historical footage tends to be in black and white and range from quite good to terrible and grainy.

    Interestingly, the black and white footage causes the Digital Reality Creation (DRC) circuit in my projector to comb in DRC Progressive mode. This occurs in various places including Chapter 14 during the dance sequences and also in the baton movements. The combing is not inherent in the source because the alternate DRCx4 mode does not show any signs of combing.

    There are also occasional instances of pixelization, such as during Chapter 15.

    There are a number of subtitle tracks available: English, French, and German. I turned on the English subtitle track briefly. Accuracy is slightly below average and it would be fair to say that the subtitling is paraphrasing the dialogue in many instances as opposed to transcribing the dialogue. Captions are also burned in to the video stream (mainly identification of musical excerpts and interviewees). Interestingly, there is no captioning or translation of non-English dialogue unless the English subtitle track is turned on.

    This is a single sided single layered disc containing almost two hours of programming, so it is definitely packed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track on this disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The audio track is broadcast TV in quality and is recorded at a fairly high level (about 2dB louder than normal).

    Some of the historical footage features audio that has rolled-off high and low frequencies, wow and flutter, strident midrange and distorted highlights. For example, Chapter 32 has severe phase shifts in the upper frequencies from analogue tape misalignment. I also noticed numerous (and annoying) crackles and pops in Chapter 10 and also in the end titles. The contemporary interviews feature better sonics.

    Dialogue in general is easy to understand, apart from some speakers who have a strong accent. I did not notice any audio synchronization issues.

    Most of the audio is monaural in nature and there are very few stereo elements present. The surrounds and subwoofer are not utilized.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Unlike the previous title (Great Conductors Of The Past) which had an extensive featurette containing additional interviews, this DVD does not contain any extras apart from the booklet.


    The menus are full frame and static.


    This is a fairly thick 36 page booklet containing:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title is yet to be released in R1 (its announced release date is 19 November 2002) but it appears to be similar in terms of features and content to the R4 release (which is actually multi-region coded for Regions 2-6).


    The Art of Conducting – Legendary Conductors Of A Golden Era is the "made for video" sequel to Great Conductors of the Past.. It features historical footage of great conductors in performance and rehearsals as well as contemporary interviews.

    The video quality is variable depending on the age of the source.

    The audio quality is also variable.

    There are no extras apart from a 36 page booklet.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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