How not to conduct like Herbert von Karajan

How not to conduct like Herbert von Karajan


norman lebrecht

July 17, 2018

Madame Tussauds in Vienna have just put up this waxwork of the old rogue on the 29th anniversary of his death.

HvK neither looked nor conducted like this.

© Katharina Schiffl, Madame Tussauds Wien

No salient detail of his features or posture in this figure conforms to the memory of those of us who had dealings with him.

The face lacks character, the eyes are set wrong, the hands bear no resemblance to the real thing.

It’s a mockery.

The real deal


  • anon says:

    This photo proves otherwise

    He needs more gel for his hair though.

  • Pedro says:

    I have attended 146 Karajan’s performances in the last ten years of his life and I don’t think he remotely looked like his wax statue.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      I am jealous, Pedro. I never heard him live even once in person. The two conductors who I greatly regret missing that I would have LOVED to hear live, are Karajan and Giulini. And for sure Furtwangler too.

  • Hilary says:

    I would imagine wax is a very challenging medium to work in. With this taken into account, they’ve done a superlative job?

  • Caravaggio says:

    Not good. Looks dreadful.

  • Richard Craig says:

    its hard to belive its 29 years since he died,and yet he is still as potent as ever, controversial he may have been but he set standards

  • David says:

    Plus, its eyes are open.

  • Ben says:

    Give that place the credit it deserves: The cheap summer intern from India that they hired to make this statue did an very admirable job of not making it looks like Zubin Mehta.

  • Rob says:

    The Stepford conductors?

  • Anon2 says:

    Looks like Franco Zeffirelli.

  • Sue says:

    What about people who were their own ‘living’ waxworks, like Michael Jackson? That was creepy. And some of those surgically enhanced actors who look like burns victims!! Those would probably belong in the Chamber of Horrors should they every be represented in actual wax!!

  • TI says:

    It looks like a morph of Vladimir Fedoseyev and Christoph Eschenbach if you ask me !

  • Deborah Mawer says:

    ==those of us who had dealings with him

    So, Norman – did you meet HvK ?

  • Tamino says:

    It looks a morph of Esa Pekka Salonen and Karajan to me.

  • Hilary says:

    For Karajan enthusiasts/bashers there’s some uncommon footage in this promotion for the Madame Tussaud’s premiere (outtakes from a conducting lesson on Till Eugenspiegel) :