4

This question is fairly self-explanatory -- watching Boult conduct is almost magical. There are some excerpts from a BBC documentary floating around that explain in part the development of is singular technique:

But did he write any other documentation on his baton technique and why he selected such a lengthy baton? Which, uh, how long was that thing? It looks like he's majestically swinging a fishing pole at the orchestra. And yet he's probably one of the best conductors I've ever seen.

  • Interesting that the clips of Nikisch contradict Boult's description of finger rather than elbow movement. – Laurence Payne Nov 6 '18 at 10:24
  • @LaurencePayne I actually thought so too, but it isn't like Boult only ever used his fingers -- he gets pretty amped by his usual standards in this recording: gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/… – General Nuisance Nov 6 '18 at 14:55
  • They're pretty well 'on the click'. Not doing that 'philharmonic delay' thing. :-) – Laurence Payne May 8 at 21:34
  • @LaurencePayne Yeah, you're right! Interesting observation, since he's such an iconic British conductor. You might expect more delay. – General Nuisance May 9 at 1:05
2

Since there's currently no answer here, I thought I'd do some digging. I haven't been able to get an exact number, but we can at least have a little fun getting an approximation.

In Boult's obituary in the New York Times, Edward Rothstein highlights Boult's

six-foot frame

and

a baton that was nearly the length of his arm.

And in an activity created by the Forensics Department at Rice University, we see that

a person’s height can be estimated using the lengths of the long bones of the body—the femur, tibia, and fibula in the leg, and the ulna, radius, and humerus of the arm.

So, let's try it! The height of a Caucasian male is estimated to be the length of the ulna times 3.76 and with a further 75.55 cm added. Regarding the radius, it's 3.79 times the length, plus an additional 79.42 cm. And as for the humerus, it's 2.89 times the length, plus 78.10 cm.

Solving these equations, we see that 6 feet (182.88 cm) suggests an ulna length of 28.54 cm (11.24 in), a radius length of 27.29 cm (10.74 in), and a humerus length of 36.26 cm (14.28 in). Averaging the ulna and radius lengths and combining them to the humerus, that's an arm length of 64.18 cm (25.27 in).

So our current best guess is that his wand length approached 25 inches, about the length of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort's wands combined.

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  • Holy cow! This is probably my favorite answer ever. I love the Harry Potter comparison--some how it seems like the best way of representing this data. It kind of was a magic wand, wasn't it? In addition, I now know more about the exact proportions of Sir Boult's body than I ever dreamed... ROFL – General Nuisance May 9 at 1:03

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