Berlin rips up deadly Karajan-Strasse

Berlin rips up deadly Karajan-Strasse


norman lebrecht

January 15, 2020

The city has completed a major makeover for the frontage of the Philharmonie, which is as boring and deterrent as any concerthall on earth.

That meant ripping out Herbert-von-Karajan-strasse and replacing it with something friendlier.

The cost?

Just under ten million Euros.


They can take it out of all the tax that Karajan never paid.



  • Dennis says:

    Why are so many Brits obsessed with other people’s taxes?

    They act as if the primary reason for one’s existence is to pay tax to some grasping state bureaucracy.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      Actually, the grasping state bureaucracy helps fund the infrastructure in a great many countries as well as maintaining a high quality of life which comes from being able to tap into everything that makes up cultural heritage. Take a look at the woeful state of roads, railways, airports, schools and, above all, NHS hospitals in the U.K. and ask yourself one pertinent question. Why is it so difficult for most politicians in the U.K. to make a public case for increased taxation?

      • Dennis says:

        Perhaps they should better manage the revenues form already high taxation rates?

        In general though, on this subject, people need to understand the difference between “tax evasion” (illegal) and “tax avoidance” (legal). Digs at Karajan and others imply the former, while in fact I’m sure they merely availed themselves of the means to achieve the latter (as anyone would do).

      • Allen says:

        “Why is it so difficult for most politicians in the U.K. to make a public case for increased taxation?”

        Perhaps because people have finally realised that it is impossible for infrastructure to keep up with a population, much of it needy, increasing at 300,000 to 500,000 per year.

        They well aware that nobody knows the exact figure. They are equally aware however that queues are getting longer.

        • Po says:

          UK population (and density) is not extra crowded as right wing press suggest. The problem is UK was lazily under prepared (see what you said, UK system can‘t even correctly calculate actual population) and now lazily blames immigrants. Solving increasing population by cutting immigrants? Simple, but you will soon have a badly ageing society and even less tax being paid as more retired, and much more medical resources needed. Think about it.

          • Allen says:

            “UK population (and density) is not extra crowded as right wing press suggest.”

            Wrong – and it’s not just the “right wing press”, it’s becoming obvious to all – hence the recent election result.

            Indicators outside the civil service, including transport, health, housing, general goods and services, all point in the same direction.

            Your reaction is an entirely predictable one, and the “ponzi” solution of bringing in more people, who also age but might not be able to provide the revenue we need, is absurd.

    • Patrick John Gordon Shaw says:

      VERY well said, Dennis!

  • PHF says:

    Why Karajan never paid taxes?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Read The Maestro Myth.

    • RGN says:

      Actually, don’t read The Maestro Myth, whose myth is the delusions of its author as a credible source on the subject of conductors. If you’re I interested in Karajan, read Richard Osborne’s very fine biography which explains much that’s been misunderstood about him. Leave Lebrecht where he belongs: un-purchased, unread, and on the shelf.

  • Brettermeier says:

    “They can take it out of all the tax that Karajan never paid.”

    I wasn’t aware he was a German citizen (post-WWII, at least). Was he?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      His salary and royalties were earned in Germany.

      • Brettermeier says:

        “His salary and royalties were earned in Germany.”

        Yes, but he had to actually live here (>6 months a year, tax residence) to pay taxes here (or the laws were different back then). Did he “live here”? I’m genuinely curious.

        • Mercurius Londiniensis says:

          He never had a home in Berlin and stayed in a hotel when fulfilling his engagements there.

          But NL does have a point. I happened to be in Salzburg soon after his death, and was astounded to read in the Salzburger Nachrichten a notice put in by his lawyers, which lamented his death ‘so far from home’. He had in fact died in the house in Anif which everyone who knew him took to be his main abode. I asked a friend of his what on earth this was about. ‘Ah’, he said. ‘It’s a reminder to the Austrian authorities that he was officially domiciled in Switzerland’.

          • norman lebrecht says:

            Actually Lichtenstein. He was a master tax evader.

          • HvK says:

            He was above paying tax. Simple. He was one of God’s greatest musical gifts to mankind – right up there with Mozart, Bach etc

            After all he did for the entire music world, why should he given the authorities a cent of what he earned?

        • Alviano says:

          My understand is that now, if you are “angemeldet,” which you are obligated to be after 60 days, you pay taxes. And this is even if your German residence is a Nebenwohnung.

          • Brettermeier says:

            I’m pretty sure that’s true only for the “Zweitwohnungsteuer” (municipality tax, not the real deal), which he wouldn’t have to pay if he checked out of the hotel every eight weeks for half a second. I’d have to ask my tax consultant, though.

      • Patrick says:

        Have you heard about tax résidence laws and territoriality of taxes?

        • Dennis says:

          That and the whole legal distinction, as explained above, between “tax evasion” (illegal”) and “tax avoidance” (legal) seems to be a stumbling block for many (see. Mr. Lebrecht calling Karajan a “tax evader” above, though as far as I’m aware, neither he nor his estate were ever charged with or found guilty of any such crime).

          That his legal domicile was Liechtenstein rather than Anif (or any other residences he may have owned) only proves that he and his advisors were clever and prudent in managing his assets, not that they were “tax evaders.”

          • Saxon Broken says:


            You seem to suggest that taxes are for the little people. Most of the public disagrees with you, and sees the hairsplitting technical difference between avoidance and evasion as sophistry. Why should small people fund public services while the rich decline to make a proper contribution to those services while benefiting from them.

  • It’s never to late to create at this place something for the great Sergiu Celibidache who was very bad treated by this famous orchestra…

  • Pedro says:

    They will rename it HvK-Strasse after the renovation, I hope. The BPO still makes most of its money from the Karajan recordings they made together. Abbado’s and Rattle’s never sold so well.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      True. But let’s be honest, they recorded much of the same rep. as Karajan. At the time Karajan recordings were coming out, we weren’t getting recordings from every radio orchestra in Germany (and yes, they do play at a very high level). Dresden and Leipzig were still behind the curtain, so that limited their output (Kempe’s R. Strauss and Jochum’s second Bruckner cycle aside). Also, Rattle’s last batch of Berlin recordings are only available on the Berlin Phil’s own, very expensive label.

      We didn’t have online ordering then, so everyone was much more dependent on local stores. Those stores were generally well stocked of Karajan/Berlin recordings. I would say his main competitor from the latter ’60s through the early ’80’s was Haitink/Concertgebouw/Philips. All that made a difference. By the the time Abbado/Berlin were recording, there was a lot more competition in terms of available recordings.

    • Alexander Tarak says:

      Hardly surprising. Von Karajan was a totally different league compared to his successors.
      From Furtwängler to Rattle. Bit of a downward slope.
      (As Carlos Kleiber put it: I was never rattled by Simon.)

    • Carlos Solare says:

      Don’t worry, they never changed the name in the first place. Rumours to that effect are greatly exaggerated (sorry, NL).

  • Mr A N Matthews says:

    And don’t forget the money the Berlin players made when his records sold in huge numbers. Their salaries have not been same since.

  • La Roche says:

    It‘s a street in front of a concert hall. Its purpose is for people to get to and from concerts. Do we have more breaking news today?

  • Maria says:

    Funded by the EU as is Tralee train station in Ireland!

  • Alonso says:

    I believe K came to own a large yacht and his own private jet plane. Is this so?

  • Alexander Tarak says: