Dying to conduct?

The history of conducting is full of fascinating events and anecdotes. But, strangely – given their sometimes rather(??) fraught relationship with orchestras – not many people have died of injuries sustained while conducting; I can only think of one,  Jean-Baptiste Lully (that’s him below)

In Lully’s time (he was the court musician/dancing master to the Sun King, Louis XIV) one didn’t direct musicians by waving around a piddling little stick, oh no, one kept time by banging the floor with a long staff. Unfortunately, poor Lully managed, during a performance of his Te Deum, to bang not the floor but his foot, causing an injury which eventually turned gangrenous. He refused amputation (a dancing master!); the infection spread and killed him.

Here’s a performance of the fatal piece; William Christie appears – I’m sure he’s pleased – to have survived the experience.

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