Bohodar Shved


1973 Lviv (Ukraine)

Now living in

Switzerland and Berlin

The importance and status of the conductor’s profession in society has changed enormously over the centuries.

At the beginning the conductor was not planned as a kind of necessity between the musicians, an additional musician who does not play an instrument or sing, but the whole thing came into being in a coordinated manner as the groups of musicians grew larger.

In the most original form, it was a musician who usually also had an instrument in front of him, who also played along and but mainly coordinated the groups so that they came on top of each other in time.

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Over time and especially with the development of musical styles, the conductor became more and more important as the interpreter of the whole. It was a person who gave form, design and meaning to the music-making of several musicians!

It developed to such an extent that the personality of a conductor was given absolute priority.
He became a kind of guru or master who taught, formed, developed the other musicians who just didn’t reach this level of consciousness or musical mastery. Such gurus have often placed themselves excessively above all others. Male dominated society was also happy to give them that meaning as it was the same men in politics and other aspects of our lives who wanted to see hierarchy in music as well.

In our time we are experiencing a whole new era of this profession. Too much authority on the part of a conductor is literally rejected in the strongest possible way by any orchestra. Making music together is more about the conductor giving the musicians space to express their musicality and their knowledge and ability to the fullest! A conductor who is well equipped with all professional know-how and at the same time likes to step into the background in order to enable a symphony of interpersonal relationships in the orchestra or choir to come to the fore in the truest sense.

For me and my conducting path, this latter quality is very formative but not perfect for expressing myself exclusively in it. From the generation of conductors who still radiated strong leadership and authority to their fellow human beings and fellow musicians, I took a very important aspect of my conducting life with me: taking responsibility.

The ability to take responsibility for each individual musician in their development within the framework of the orchestra or choir project is a quality of the old school. It starts with the fact that, in my view, a true conductor chooses a work in such a way that it becomes the highest developmental benefit of the orchestra or choir. And then with the start of rehearsals and until the successful concerts, it is about shaping the body of sound in the long term, letting it develop into its unique sonority and enabling every musician to develop their own stages of development in this big whole.

From my point of view, a true conductor is a master, but not one who puts himself in the foreground, but who becomes invisible in the space in between and yet without his presence the overall design is not possible.

In my generation of conductors, I often see a sad example of using the orchestra to get ahead quickly. For me it is important to devote myself completely and fully to the respective orchestra and to get along with it.

When we move a bow across the strings of a stringed instrument, there are often squeaky sounds caused by the bow pressing too hard on the strings.

But then there is something like whistling when the bow is too light and the musician doesn’t trust himself to exert the right pressure on the string. Only then does a stringed instrument produce a true and beautiful sound. when the sheet is moving fast enough and with a right amount of pressure at the same time so that the page can unfold freely.

It is an optical illusion that the bow produces the sound of the instrument through pressure, it is more the case that the bow with skilful guidance gives freedom to the string so that the instrument, which already carries the sound within itself, can fully develop.