For 12th night, it’s Carlos Kleiber the waltz king

A little-seen Austrian documentary in provincial Austrian style.

 

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  • Regarding the somewhat cringe-worthy beginning of the video, well, every orchestra has to pay its dues to its wealthy local patrons, every orchestra has to play for its supper, nein?

  • Norman, have your website numbers told you that any mention of CK perks things up? Or are you a late convert to his work? I seem to remember a rather grudging article after he died…

  • My favorite conductor Kleiber was. The best conductor who ever lived. One of the few truly serious modern musicians whom I have known or read about – Horowitz, Heifetz, Grimal, (Grigory) Sokolov, Rachmaninoff, (Glenn) Gould, and Brendel. Everyone else is second tier. Orchestras used to play for the aristocracy almost exclusively. Now, they play for everyone. That’s a good thing. All you have to do is buy a ticket.

  • Mr Lebrecht, many thanks for posting this, but can you please explain why you call it a documentary and what makes it provincial?

    This is a compilation of footage from previous news coverage on from the ORF, the Austrian public Radio and TV. There are three distinctive units:

    – 0-2:45: news coverage of the 1994 Vienna Philharmonic ball.

    – 2:45-14:50: news coverage before his January 1985 La Boheme performances at the Vienna State Opera. I remember seeing that in the evening news a few days before attending one of those performances. (If I ever forget, that will be a sign of advanced dementia.) Of particular interest are the incisive comments on Kleiber from Egon Seefehler, then director of the Vienna State Opera. (I vividly remember that during the applause after the Boheme I attended, Pavarotti kept pointing to the orchestra and the podium; I don’t remember him doing that on other occasions I experienced him live, in Vienna or elsewhere.)

    – 14:50-end: remembering Kleiber after his death. There is a remarkable clip from16:55 on: the Konjšica, Slovenia residents had no idea of Kleiber’s stature; but the leadership of local wind band did, and Kleiber had accepted an invitation from them. Around 17:30 there is a short clip where the young musicians applaud Kleiber. Amazing, in the true sense of this ridiculously overused word. (In his biography of Carlos Kleiber, Alexander Werner states that this was the youth band of the music school of Zagorje, birth place of Kleiber’s wife Stanka; p.482)

    • It’s made in Graz, has no budget, is confined to 3-4 studio interviews (albeit one with Pavarotti). The real merit comes at the end with footage from Slovenia, just across the border from Graz.

  • I believe that what made Kleiber posses an almost mystical quality was that he always strove to reach the truth(s) that great Classical Music seeks to reveal and make known.

    He never “professionalized” his performances, but instead treated them 100% as an experience. He didn’t “perform” Beethoven’s 7th, he brought it to life and lived it, and he was able to sidestep all of his ego tendencies while doing so.

    Definitely my favorite conductor and someone who has much to offer as a role model in terms of being artistically earnest and authentic.

  • Kleiber had the most expressive hand movements of any conductor I’ve ever seen. Word is that when Leonard Bernestein had free time in NYC and when Kleiber was in town, he told associates, “let’s go see Kleiber.” That’s quite an endorsement.

  • What is “provincial Austrian” style supposed to mean? It simply is an old film! Kleiber has been dead for a while…..Would have looked equally provinvial having been filmed in New York many years ago….

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