The batonless frustrations of a great conductor’s son

The batonless frustrations of a great conductor’s son


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2014

The actor Karlheinz Böhm, who died on Friday, was renowned first as a film actor, then as a kind of Austrian Bob Geldof, who from the 1980s on raised millions for hunger-stricken Ethiopians.

But he started life as the son of Karl Böhm and never really lost the urge to match his father.

Playing piano as a boy, he was told by the pedagogue Rudolph Backhaus: ‘Not good enough for the son of Karl Böhm’.

In the 1960s, he became his father’s manager for a while.

In return, he was allowed to direct Elektra in Stuttgart. ‘Very nice,’ was his father’s only comment.

He found fulfilment elsewhere, among Africans, far from home.


karlheinz bohm


  • Francesco Chiari says:

    It’s Always hard to carry the burden of a famous name, witness the two Kleibers, Erich and Carlos.

  • ruben greenberg says:

    He sounds a lot nicer than his father. Klemperer’s son was also an actor.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Karlheinz Böhm helped way more people than most actors or great musicians did.

    Better compare him to Bob Geldof, as Norman rightly did, than to Werner Klemperer or Carlos Kleiber.ür_Menschen

  • And Michael Powell’s astounding “Peeping Tom” was a career-killer (in the Anglophone film world), unfortunately.