von Karajan and "The Ring of the Nibelung
made singers sing like instruments and instrumentalists play like
rather scrub floors than work with that man again!"
Josephine Veasey (Fricka) after a recording session
the podium with his slender figure, theatrical shock of hair
and penetrating blue eyes, Herbert von Karajan projected the
hieratic image of the conductor as officiate of some quasi-mystic
rite. And anyone who ever saw him conduct live or on his many
audiovisual recordings will agree that in his performances,
music did indeed become a religion and Karajan its high-priest.
in Salzburg, Austria, in 1908, he became the city's most famous
son after Mozart. Raised in a cultivated musical environment,
he studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg before entering the
Vienna Music Academy.He made his conducting debut in 1928
and was appointed Germany's youngest general music director
in Aachen in 1935. He made his debut at the Vienna State Opera
in 1937 and at the Berlin State Opera in 1938. In 1955 he
was appointed music director for life of the Berlin Philharmonic,
which he honed into arguably the best orchestra in the world.
at the helm of the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival and the
Berlin Philharmonic for a time, and closely connected to the Vienna
Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra (which had been created especially
for him) and Milan's La Scala, Karajan became known as the "General
Music Director of Europe" from the 1950s to the 1970s. He towered
over European musical life as no one had done before. Herbert von
Karajan died in Salzburg on July 16, 1989.
embodied classical music in the general consciousness as an
epoch-making conductor, media star, opera producer, festival
director and festival founder. We won't see anyone of his
grandeur any more, and we are grateful for all the music he