Riccardo Muti exclusive: Karajan and me

Riccardo Muti exclusive: Karajan and me


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2021

Happy birthday to the Italian maestro, who will turn 80 tomorrow.

Nine years ago, he and I sat down in his cottage in Karajan’s former village, Anif, for the only extended interview he ever gave to the BBC. Inevitably, we talked about Karajan. And had irrepressible fun.

Listen to the 45-minute conversation here.


  • Alexander says:

    Tanti auguri di buon compleanno 😉

    • Saggezza says:

      Oggi nel rimirare in quell’istante eterno gli Occhi Tuoi, e Te possente in fondo all’Oro, mi sono ritrovata in una Sostanza Trasfigurata.

      Prima gelida Virgo prerafaelita, ora ebrezza incosciente, istintiva, spontanea, sorgente dal mio letto d’ulva a fluire verso la tua Promessa, accompagnando Te nella Macchia abbagliante di candida guazza.

      Presso l’ampia frasca voluttuosa, io nel Nido intarsiata di aromatiche gemme e oleandri profumati, porgendoti teneramente frutti da gustare.

      E il Pomo turgido, inghirlandato di madidi diamanti e fulgidi, eccolo schiudersi palpitante sol per Te, mio Re.

      Deh ora sono qui, spezzata Ombra di moto, attendendo che il carro Pizio sorga molte fiate ancora.

      Immortale Amore.

      Immortali Noi.


  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Good interview Norman even if it was with the not very nice Muti. I regret that you didn’t do more itws of this type. Your best was with the other Riccardo.

  • Gustavo says:


  • John Kelly says:

    Very interesting interview. Certainly I remember very exciting concerts with the Philharmonia and in Philadelphia after I moved to the US. He is right about newer conductors (and directors) not having an in depth understanding of the operas they are conducting sometimes.

  • Gustavo says:

    Grazie Maestro per momenti indimenticabili!

    Tre applausi per lui!


  • E says:

    Really interesting.
    Auguri al Maestro.

  • Petros LInardos says:

    The Karajan early morning phone call story is hillarious (starts after 4′).

    Thank you for posting this great interview. I had heard it a decade ago and still remember it. I wish Mr. Lebrecht resumed interviewing.

    Are other old interview easy to access?

    • Nick2 says:

      That Karajan early morning call was similar to one received by the great bassist Gary Karr. The morning after appearing on one of Bernstein’s tv educational programmes, Karr received a call. Slightly hung over he was not surprised when the lady told him she was Olga Koussevitsky. He merely assumed it was one of his friends playing a joke. Quickly he learned it was indeed Koussevitsky’s widow who told him how much she had enjoyed his playing. So much so that she wanted to give him her husband’s Amati bass.

      Although recent analysis of the wood has shown it could not have been made by Amati and was instead made about 100 years later, it was a marvelous gesture. Karr played the bass for most of his career before donating it to a Foundation for use by aspiring bass students.

  • Beata says:

    Great interview. Thanks for posting it.
    Happy Birthday Riccardo Muti.

  • Nick Schleppend says:

    Look at us! We autocratic & authoritarian men are great, aren’t we….[?????]

  • David Grant says:

    Mutti is a Dracula faced creep. He bought a house in Anif precisely because Karajan had been living there for years. He sees himself as the newer Karajan, but most certainly is not!

  • pvl says:

    Thank you so much for the interview! Most interesting!
    (by the way, also found your Apple podcasts)