Let’s take a look at what famous conductors have said about this.
Among those who don’t use a baton are important names like Stokowski, Mitropoulos, Boulez, Masur… (to name just a few). But why don’t they use a baton? Let’s hear some of their comments:
Stokowski: “all unessentials should be eliminated”.
Boulez has a very nice short book called “L’Écriture du Geste” (2002) where he gives his views on how he finds bare hands are more expressive and important for the clarity in complex new music.
For many conductors the baton is something they take for granted and don’t think about. Others have stated quite clearly on which side they are on: “the renounciation of the baton… carries the seeds of decay” (Bruno Walter).
Whatever you choose, one thing is for sure: “Gestures must be first and always meaningful in terms of the music” (Leonard Bernstein)