Berlin mourns Karajan’s bassoon

Berlin mourns Karajan’s bassoon


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2018

Günter Piesk died this week at the age of 97.

A member of the Berlin Philharmonic for more than 40 years, he became principal bassoon in 1962 and was a member of the five-player committee who giverned the orchestra from 1971 to his retirement in 1987.

His loyalty to Karajan was unquestioned.


  • Uzi Shalev says:

    RIP, Gunter Piesk. You shall be remembered !!!

  • Luk Vaes says:

    Was he the one playing a mistake in a solo in one of the Beethoven symphonies on Karajan’s Telemondial cycle, with HvK looking angrily at him in close-up?

    • Been Here Before says:

      A remark befitting a true gentleman!

      • Luk Vaes says:

        Karajan clearly returned the “unquestioned loyalty” with quite the opposite if he chose to incude the bad take in the master and add his ostentatiously visible ungentlemanly reaction to it.

        • Been Here Before says:

          Digging yourself deeper, aren’t you?

          Search on-line for “De mortuis nil nisi bonum”. Google is your friend!

          • Luk Vaes says:

            Why do you think I don’t know Latin?

            I happen to not agree with the idea that it is inappropriate to say anything negative about the deceased. If we cannot be critical of the past, there is no history.

          • Been Here Before says:

            The man had a 40+ yr career with BP and you chose to mention a single mistake and a glance (!!!). It is apparent that critical assessment of history is your priority.

            Sorry, gotta go now. Have life!

    • Rick.Boyton. says:

      For goodness sake – grow up!!

      • Luk Vaes says:

        One of my post-doc research projects involves the investigation of shared creativity in ensemble playing, including the way power relations play out. Amongst the general aims is the development of insights that move the discourse beyond platitudes about performance authorship as we have to bear in print and on social media. A finished case study is the Gould-Bernstein performance of opus 15 by Brahms, mythbusting most of what has been written about that performance.

    • Bruce says:

      Here’s a famous one of Bohm expressing disappointment in a horn player:

      If I were a good horn player, I might have occasionally cacked on purpose for Bohm just to make him react 🙂

      • Luk Vaes says:

        I had seen that one as well, yes. But that is a live recording, and not with Böhm as owner of the recording company. With Karajan it was very different, i.e. he would have had final say in deciding on each shot, and could easily have taken one of the other camera angles. All the while we have to assume that there was no better audio take, which I would find odd, to say the least. But it would explain why HvK made a point of showing off his powers.

        Anyway, I think it is an interesting example of how complex relationships can be between a conductor (for life, in this case) and an orchestral player (member of the orchestra’s governing committee, in this case).

  • Wai Kit Leung says:

    My friend told me before he worked for the Berlin Philharmonic, he was working for the correctional services. Was that true?

  • Simon Evnine says:

    ==Was he the one playing a mistake in a solo in one of the Beethoven symphonies on Karajan’s Telemondial cycle, with HvK looking angrily at him in close-up?

    Do you know if this is on line ? Would love to see Herby angry ! thanks

    • Luk Vaes says:

      I don’t, no. Don’t even remember in which symphony. But that cycle is worthwhile going through anyway.