'Conducting Business' by Leonard Slatkin

Posted: Tue Oct 16 2012

(Amadeus Press £19.95)

Leonard Slatkin is a familiar musical force in London. He has conducted all of its orchestras, was chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra for several years, is a British music champion and prolific recording artist (currently for Naxos). He also conducted the Last Night of the Proms on several occasions, including the all-change evening of 2001, which came a few days after the atrocities of 9/11. Typically, Slatkin is both candid and vivid about this moment in his life in a book that is a compelling read, an autobiography covering a wide range of emotions - from laugh-out-loud anecdotes to memories that threaten the tear-ducts, as with the death of Leonard Bernstein.

It begins with Slatkin's early life. He was born into a musical family. His parents played in string quartets and graced Hollywood Studio orchestras. Regulars to the Slatkin home included Frank Sinatra, Arnold Schoenberg, Nat 'King' Cole and Doris Day - a measure of mum and dad's musical versatility that their son has continued. The demands of the conducting profession are dealt with head on, and there is much affection for people and insight into music that will endear musicians and music-lovers alike to a beautifully written, very human and rewarding manuscript.