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Karajan and his directors

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Ann Harding
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Karajan and his directors

Postby Ann Harding » April 14th, 2008, 4:17 am

As Moira mentioned earlier in a different thread, there has been a tremendous amount of publicity on Herbert von Karajan's 100th birthday. The Franco-German channel Arte has shown various documentaries and films recently. While not being particularly a fan of Karajan (I prefer Carlos Kleiber, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Kurt Sanderling and Leonard Bernstein), I was extremely interested by his complex relationships with various directors. Karajan from the early 60s decided to get his performances recorded on film. He met Henri-George Clouzot and started a collaboration. They made together 6 films (including Beethoven's 5th and Verdi's Requiem) before clashing violently....two big egos!

But what really caught my attention is Hugo Niebeling who worked first for Karajan on Beethoven 6th in 1968. The film he made is absolutely astonishing in terms of cinematography and complete adherance to the music's rythm. Niebeling showed the film to Karajan who turned a nice shade of green. He hated it! Of course, Niebeling didn't show constant close-ups of Karajan directing!!! Karajan asked for a re-cut by his own editor. But, thank God!, the German TV channel who produced it insisted to present it as it was. This little gem has been well preserved. But all Niebeling later collaborations have been mercilessly recut by Karajan....

If you want to have a look as this amazing little film of Beethoven 6th Symphony (Pastorale) by Hugo Niebeling, it's free online for 7 days from today:
http://plus7.arte.tv/fr/detailPage/1697660,CmC=1986266,scheduleId=1975742.html
Try it, you won't be disappointed! :D

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Postby MichiganJ » May 30th, 2008, 3:26 pm

I’m really sorry I didn’t get to see this, it sounds fantastic.

I rather like Karajan, particularly the Brahms Symphonies (although I prefer Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony), but nobody could touch Karajan and the Berlin when performing Richard Strauss (in my humble opinion).

Generally my taste leans towards “original instruments” and I love Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music performing Mozart (particularly the first movement of his Symphony 25). The other extreme leads me to Prokofiev and the first movement of his third piano concerto. There are many fine performances but I had the opportunity to hear an old recording of Prokofiev himself performing. Even with all the scratches and pervasive hiss, it was breathtaking.

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movieman1957
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Postby movieman1957 » May 30th, 2008, 4:04 pm

Great, another classical music fan. I'm not as nuanced about conductors and such as some but I have my favorites.

Maybe a classical music thread is in order.
Chris

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CharlieT
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Postby CharlieT » May 30th, 2008, 4:07 pm

:wink: Beethoven's 6th?

How many St. Bernards in that one? :roll:
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Postby MikeBSG » June 5th, 2008, 3:36 pm

Has anyone here seen the movie "Taking Sides" which deals with the post-WWII interrogation of Furtwangler? The Karajan vs. Furtwangler issue gets discussed a bit in that film, which was directed by Istvan Szabo about five years ago.

I thought "Taking Sides" was a gripping movie that deserved far more attention than what it got.

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » June 6th, 2008, 2:10 am

Taking Sides is actually based on a play by Ronald Harwood. I saw it performed in Paris some years ago. I was very intrigued by the subject. Alas, I found the play rather heavy-going and missing the point of politics vs. art completely. But you are right, in this play, it is mentioned that Karajan didn't join once -but twice- the Nazi party. He was an extremely ambitious man and ethics had never been his top priority, to put it mildly. After the war he was banned from performing from concert halls for several years.

But regarding Furtwängler, I found the play a bit 'narrow' in its investigation. He certainly 'collaborated' with the Nazis performing in factories in front of high ranking nazis, etc. But he never joined the party. He was, I think, an artist completely involved in his art. He could certainly have emigrated easily as he was an extremely eminent artist. But, probably deep down, he knew it would have been difficult for him to adapt. It should be mentioned that Furtwängler received the support of very eminent artists such as Yehudi Menuhin after the war.

If you want to have an idea of the kind of problem facing an artist during the 3rd Reich, I recommend highly Hans Hotter's memoirs. (they are available in English) This great bass-baritone was a fantastic Wagnerian. He managed to avoid singing in Bayreuth during the time of Hitler. And sometimes it wasn't easy at all... He thought about emigrating abroad but he had a whole family to support and he realised he couldn't do it.

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mahlerii
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Herbert von Karajan

Postby mahlerii » July 2nd, 2008, 9:37 am

There is a very interesting video which I bought recently with Karajan conducting the Beethoven 5th and Schumann's 4th. They were made in the early 60's when Karajan was starting to become more famous in the states. He is also shown as a teacher. And I think the director is the same one that Ann mentioned.

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » July 2nd, 2008, 10:17 am

I think Mahlerii you probably got the Henri-George Clouzot version. Very interesting in their own rights. :wink:


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