Leonard Slatkin’s latest book, Eight Symphonic Masterworks of the Twentieth Century: A Study Guide for Conductors, is now available. Order your copy today from Rowman & Littlefield.


The essays in Eight Symphonic Masterworks of the Twentieth Century: A Study Guide for Conductors provide an almost bar-by-bar analysis of the scores, detailing the decisions the conductor must make prior to stepping onto the podium, during rehearsals, and in performance to bring these works to life.

Slatkin intends to open the world of score study to those interested in expanding their knowledge of these masterworks and learning more about the complexities of the conductor’s craft. This volume is the first in a series; a second book focused on nineteenth-century works will be released later in 2024.

• Claude Debussy’s La Mer
• Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5
• Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra
• Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)
• George Gershwin’s An American in Paris
• Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite
• Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings
• Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

“Reading this book is akin to watching a basketball game with Shaquille O’Neal. Gold-plated insights from a master of the field are delivered with charm and wit. Leonard Slatkin’s brilliant observations make this book essential reading.”

—Mason Bates, GRAMMY® Award-winning composer

“This book is a treasure for conductors, but anyone with a deep interest in these works will find this fascinating. Every serious conductor should read this and benefit from Slatkin’s tremendous experience and knowledge.”

—Gerard Schwarz, music director laureate, Seattle Symphony Orchestra

“Indispensable, lucid, detailed, thorough, and persuasive, this book is not so much a masterclass as an entire curriculum in the art of orchestral conducting.”

—Mark Adamo, composer-librettist

As the new millennium poses some of the greatest challenges to the relevance of the art form, Slatkin reflects on the modern evolution of classical music and presents ways for both music lovers and musicians alike to navigate these uncertain times. Classical Crossroads: The Path Forward for Music in the 21st Century addresses a wide range of relevant and provocative topics such as performance in the COVID era, dwindling audience attendance, the lack of classical music in public education, broken audition systems, technology replacing live concerts, and diversity in the classical music world. While the new millennium has provided great obstacles, Slatkin emphasizes that there are also new opportunities—if there was ever a time for change in classical music, that time is now.

“Leonard Slatkin has always been a most generous and sharing colleague. Classical Crossroads is truly an extension of his generosity, humor, insight, and immense experience. As a fellow American musician, Slatkin’s direct approach and honest appraisals, balanced with his humility and humor, resonate deeply with me.”

—Marin Alsop, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

“Classical Crossroads is a superb collection of insights, ideas, and observations. It’s chock full of a kind of real-world wisdom that can only come from decades-long experience. Although written during the pandemic, it is refreshingly hopeful, even optimistic, about the forces that will lead us to the next chapter in American music—a deep love of the musical arts themselves. Slatkin’s version of the ‘new’ American orchestra is one that looks more like us, plays more music written by ‘us,’ and is led by more of ‘us’ also! Highly recommended for all lovers and practitioners of classical and concert music.”

—Jeff Beal, five-time Emmy winner, American composer, House of Cards

“Leonard Slatkin has become one of the strongest writers we have about today’s music world.  This book is a real document in splendidly clear and lively prose. Notable is his perceptive and sobering analysis of what permanent changes in musical life we all might expect post-Covid.”

—William Bolcom, GRAMMY® Award-winning composer, National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize

Classical Crossroads is catnip for passionate fans of classical music who wish to know what really happens behind the scenes, how it’s all organized, and where it may be headed. Any professional or aspiring artist can learn from the wealth of knowledge laid out in these pages, often spiced with humane, wry humor.”

—Garrick Ohlsson, GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist, winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition

“Having worked with Leonard Slatkin regularly for over twenty years, I have seen firsthand his dedication to the well-being of the orchestras he works with, his care for the music, his love of storytelling, his no-nonsense directness, and his belief in the universality of music’s message. … This book is entirely in his voice, an honest account of his experiences and conclusions from a lifetime invested in the arts and in leadership.”

—Hilary Hahn, GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist

“Leonard Slatkin has written a book that both informs and entertains. He shares many genuine musical insights, provocative thoughts about the music business, and wonderful stories amassed from his life in music. His conversational style of writing makes it extremely readable, but more important he made me think and made me reexamine some of my own beliefs and musical ideas. This book is a treasure for all music lovers.”

—Henry Fogel, president emeritus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras

“The masterful Leonard Slatkin is as fine a writer as he is a musician. He gives us a peek into the intimate side of his profession with fascinating stories and heartfelt descriptions about the musicians and music he treasures. Anyone who loves classical music will love this book.”

—John Corigliano, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer

What does a conductor actually do for a living?

This most enigmatic of jobs is brought to life in Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro. Drawing on his experiences on and off the podium, Leonard Slatkin brings music lovers into the world of the baton. He tells stories about some of the most fascinating people in music, including Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams, taking the reader to soundstages in Hollywood as well as great concert halls and opera pits around the world.

“Generous, candid and wise … the inspirational story of a home-grown American Maestro!”

—John Williams, Academy Award, Emmy, and GRAMMY®-winning composer

“This is a book that anyone who has anything to do with music should own, read, and study. It not only clearly states what conducting is all about but is a remarkable look at the ever-changing face of the music business. Invaluable for anyone contemplating a career in music.”

—Sir James Galway, globally renowned flutist, winner of the Gramophone 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award

“A wise, entertaining, and revealing perspective on the mysteries of the conductor’s art from one of the masters of our time. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the world of music.”

Emanuel Ax, GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist, Avery Fisher Prize

Leonard Slatkin’s debut book, Conducting Business, was published by Amadeus Press, an imprint of Hal Leonard, in July 2012. In 2013 it received the Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award from the ASCAP Foundation.

Video: Unveiling the Mystery Behind Leonard Slatkin