Conductors: A Man Without

"A new great name!" trumpeted the critic for Prague's Vecerni Praha. Great, yes; new, hardly. Sergiu Celibi-dache has been conducting for 20 years. Still, the reaction was understandably familiar. As the most unheard and unsung of the world's leading maestros, Celibidache (chay-lee-bee-da/7-kay) is forever being discovered.

The latest discovery came at the Prague Spring Festival of Music, which celebrated its 20th anniversary with the biggest and most impressive roster of conductors to appear at any of Europe's summer music festivals—among them George Szell, Charles Munch, Zubin Mehta and Georg Solti. Fronted...