Ambler baton maker created Leonard Bernstein replicas for Oscar nominated film 'Maestro'

Christie Ileto Image
Thursday, March 7, 2024
Ambler baton maker created Leonard Bernstein replicas for Oscar nominated film 'Maestro'
Baton maker Mark Horowitz created seven replicas of Leonard Bernstein's batons for Bradley Cooper's Oscar nominated film 'Maestro.'

AMBLER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Baton-making is Mark Horowitz's blood. From his basement in Montgomery County, he's molded delicate sticks for famous conductors for decades.

Then Hollywood came calling.

When the prop team for Bradley Cooper's Oscar nominated film "Maestro" was looking for an authentic Leonard Bernstein conductor baton, they turned their eyes to Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Mark Horowitz and his family are known for making conductor batons. In fact, his dad, Richard, was Bernstein's baton maker.

"When the props guy called me, I said, 'I've been expecting your call'," said Horowitz. "It was sort of natural. They managed to track me down through a woodworking shop in Philly that does some classes that I take."

He made seven Bernstein replicas for Cooper, who grew up in Jenkintown.

Horowitz makes the batons out of his basement and all are crafted by hand, tapered to a tip no larger than about 1/16th of an inch.

It takes two hours to do, then another couple hours to be painted by hand and dry. One baton costs about $100.

Horowitz says seeing his work and his dad's legacy on the big screen was already an honor, but now that the film has been nominated for seven Oscars - including Best Picture - he said his small part in making the iconic baton prop is surreal.

"It was emotional for me and then at the very end of the movie, the actual Bernstein is conducting and he's using my dad's baton. So that was pretty wild," he said.

Horowitz says he's seen the film twice now and is anxious to see how it will fair this Sunday during the Oscars.

And while the Horowitz family name has often been synonymous with conducting batons, he says the film has introduced him to a new world of people in the industry.

"I have to say in the last few weeks, I've been much busier making batons than I ever anticipated," he said.

Horowitz is a retired software consultant who happened to do this on the side. Now, more people are actively seeking him out for his pristine conductor wands.

The Oscars air Sunday, March 10th at 7 p.m. on 6abc.