Rafael Kubelik conducts four fellow-maestros

Rafael Kubelik conducts four fellow-maestros


norman lebrecht

August 26, 2023

A friend has exhumed this 1975 video of Rafael Kubelik leading a rehearsal of Bach’s 4-piano concerto with three Munich maestros of comparable rank – Wolfgang Sawallisch, Rudolf Kempe and Fritz Rieger.

The orchestra is Bavarian Radio.

You will not be able to look away.


  • HORIA says:

    I have listened to this classic recording on YouTube for several years now… So it is nothing new at all…

  • Novagerio says:

    Actually it’s Sawallisch (who by the way turns 100 today) who’s the leader.

  • Edo says:

    Great video for all Kubelik admirers like me but but has been on Youtube for years….definitely not an unknown hidden gem…

  • Jerry says:

    How can it be a 1986 video when Fritz Rieger died in 1978 ?

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    Yes, it’s a great video, but has in fact been available for several years on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DYTW-Bf8x8). What I would love to see is the final (concert) performance for which they are rehearsing! In the 1970s at the Royal Festival Hall I remember attending a performance of the 3-Klavier concerto with Kempe, Rieger, Bernhard Klee and the RPO.

  • Musicman says:

    The date of this recording is wrong. Kempe died in 1976 and Rieger passed in 1978, so it would have been impossible for them to have recorded this in 1986

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    . . . and Rieger died in 1978!

  • Barry says:

    Sawallisch is the only real pianist among the four. I had the pleasure of seeing him lead Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy from the piano in Philadelphia.

    • Peter says:

      Of course that’s nonsense: Rieger was the only active concert pianist among them, as Sawallisch would have been the first to admit.

  • Phil Davison says:

    Rieger died in 1978, according to various sites, so it must have been earlier.

  • Hermann Lederer says:

    1986 is obviously nonsense. By then Kempe and Rieger where dead and Kubelik more or less retired from BR. It’s rather 1968….

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Compelling! Charmingly, Sawallisch, Kempe and Rieger, all powerful personalities, seem to be working hard to suppress their own urges to be the conductor, with varying degrees of success.

  • Barry says:

    Today (Aug. 26) is also the 100th anniversary of Sawallisch birth. I was a big fan of his based on seeing him lead many outstanding concerts in Philadelphia around the turn of the century.

    • Micaela Bonetti says:

      Was performing and teaching in Geneva when Mr Sawallisch was conductor of old Ansermet’s OSR’s founder: how many unbelievable concerts!!!

  • Tom M. says:

    I’m guessing the video was issued in 1986 but recorded much earlier, because Kempe died in 1976 and Fritz Rieger died in 1978.

  • Bolonais says:

    Wonderful! When was the rehearsal filmed? Surely not in 1986 – Kempe died in 1976; Rieger in 1978.

  • Adam Stern says:

    Thank you for this priceless memento of a bygone era.

    Imagine…no hand-flinging or head-tossing, no designer clothing, no spiked hair…just a roomful of musicians doing their best for Bach.

    Time to watch it again.

  • orchestra musician says:

    The video is from 1975, Kempe died in 1976

  • Micaela Bonetti says:

    Hypnotic, brillant, was not able to look away!
    Grazie, Mr Lebrecht.

  • Elisabeth says:

    Amazing that there is not a woman in sight anywhere, neither among the soloist, nor in the orchestra. Luckily times have changed.

  • william osborne says:

    Bach never wrote for the pianoforte, though he knew of the instrument. This concerto was written for four harpsichords. No long sustained tones, no dynamic contrasts, little sense of touch. Hence the harpsichordal churning figures of a celestial sewing machine.

  • Jobim75 says:

    Maybe available, but I never saw it, so thanks for posting. An old world….I kind of miss it. Everything has changed so fast, it looks like centuries ago.

  • Save the MET says:

    4 conductors performing on one stage is like herding cats, but when they play, fantastico!

  • Save the MET says:

    This concert was in 1972 and recorded live for radio. Air checks have been released on several labels.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Currently listening to his extraordinary 1980 Parsifal recording. Bach will have to wait a little.