Friday, 28 August 2015

Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990)

Volume 44, June 2014, Pages 64–83

Getting in tune: A qualitative analysis of guest conductor–musicians relationships in symphony orchestras


Guest conductors and musicians mutually influence each other's behaviors.
They start negotiating the extent and areas of their power immediately.
Guest conductors often have to act as trust initiators.
They also invest in impression management.
Initiating trust and managing self-presentation helps conductors build legitimacy.


Using a qualitative approach, I analyze the phenomenon of guest conductors in professional symphony orchestras to explain how they establish the legitimacy of their authority in a short period of time. I argue that guest conductors and musicians are two interdependent centers of power in orchestras: conductors try to affect musicians’ perception of their legitimacy, and players try to influence the behavior of their guest conductors. In situations where typical sources of a conductor's legitimacy may not exist and where musicians possess power simply by virtue of their knowledge of the orchestra and their experience of performing together, guest conductors and musicians may need to negotiate the domains and levels of power in every encounter. Although this negotiation is facilitated by the existing structure of the music field, the symphony orchestra, and the music score, relationships between musicians and guest conductors are modified in each encounter. Because of the temporary nature of guest conductor–musicians relationships, the success of this negotiation depends on the extent to which guest conductors can signal their readiness to build trustworthy and respectful relationships with musicians and invest in impression management.


  • Authority;
  • Guest conductors;
  • Legitimacy;
  • Musicians;
  • Symphony orchestras;
  • Trust
Dmitry Khodyakov is a sociologist at the RAND Corporation and a faculty member at the RAND Pardee Graduate School. His research focuses primarily on intervention and program evaluation, partnership development and maintenance, expert elicitation and stakeholder engagement approaches, intra- and inter-organizational collaboration, community-based participatory research, and trust. As a methodologist, Khodyakov is an expert in qualitative and mixed-methods research, case study approaches, and methods of expert elicitation. Dr. Khodyakov is the recipient of major national and international awards, including the 2011 New Investigator Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the 2006 Award for Junior Sociologists from the International Sociological Association and the 2014 Lawrence W. Green Paper of the Year Award from Health Education & Behavior Journal. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Rutgers University.