The Beethoven Effect

Isn’t it the dream of any leader? – Having a group of highly motivated, experienced, and well educated team members in front of you where everyone of them knows exactly what to do when. That is the situation we believe orchestra conductors are in. They have 40 to 120 experienced musicians in front of them. All of them have a score on their stand. The score tells them in detail what to do when. And when it all comes together, it simply sounds amazing.

Let us look at that in more detail. Here is the first page of the full score of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in c minor op. 67.

Every line represents a team. Each team has detailed tasks with timelines etc. When it all comes together we can hear even in our head the beginning of Beethoven’s most famous symphony.

But let us listen to different interpretations of conductors. You just need to listen to the first few minutes to get an impression.

Here is Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic:

And here is John Eliot Gardiner with the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique:

And then Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic:

And last but not least Paavo Järvi conducting the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen:

And the most recent recording with Kristiina Poska conducting the Flanders Symphony Orchestra:

Remember, they all play from exactly the same score. Does it sound the same? Does it sound different? What is different?

What can you take away for your own leadership from this experience?