Karajan "The vienna Years"

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RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

Karajan responsible for the BPO reaching "top form" in anything? That gotta be a joke. The BPO was the world's best orchestra in the 30's and 40's and the person responsible for it reaching "top form" was someone whose shoes Karajan wasn't even worthy to tie. When he took over as chief conductor, he just inherited Furtwängler's legacy, a legacy on which he didn't so much build on, but replaced it with his own misguided vision. ("What's Hell? It's being a wind player in the BPO under Karajan for all eternity.") At the end the orchestra hated him so much that he only prevented getting the boot by conveniently dropping dead.

What Karajan had in plentiful amounts wasn't so much talent, but luck. His nazi party memberschip (as early as 1933, it wasn't like someone forced him) boosted his early career and his ruthless, borderline criminal behavour during the war got him where he wanted to be, in the "waiting chamber" of the BPO.

More luck: after the war it was Furtwängler was suffered most, undeservedly,  from a tarnished reputation, not the ruthless nazi Karajan. Even more luck - or rather, more clever manipulating: After Furtwängler's death he managed to become chief conductor of the BPO, and not Keilberth, the orchestra's choice.

I wonder how music history would have looked like if Keiberth, Celibidache or Bohm would have succeeded Furtwängler, and not Karajan. My guess is that orchestras not only in Germany but worldwide would be less focused on polished sound and an interchangeable uniform style. Because you can say what you want about Karajan, but you can't deny that he was very influential. In a bad way, that is.

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

Given the diverse opinions this conductor seems to generate, it is surprising that no-one has sought to make a biopic of Karajan. I fact there is a film about Furtwangler played by Stellan Skarsgard. Having seen this myself it is easy to see why some people get angry about this subject matter.

The Karajan-Bruckner recordings were very popular at one time, but it seems that they have gone out of favour. The music expert Stephen Johnson was highly critical of the 4th on radio3's "building a library" recently. It is not so much the sugar-coating, but using extra thick organic syrup!!

 

DSM

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

Karajans Bruckner cycle is one of the betters of all, Albert Imperato in this site says about it in his Blog, the following:

"Having listened to this boxed set now over the past couple of weeks, I’m
convinced that Karajan’s Bruckner cycle for DG remains one of his
finest achievements. While I can understand and appreciate a host of
different interpretative approaches to Bruckner, Karajan’s way with the
music couldn’t be clearer: For him, sumptuous, majestic sound is an
absolutely essential element to a great Bruckner performance. And
throughout Karajan’s cycle, Bruckner’s writing for strings and brass is
revealed in all its ravishing splendor. Sure, other conductors have
brought out more of the rustic grit of these works, but few can rival
him for conveying their awesome power and mystery. Over and over again,
as I listened anew, the gleaming BPO brass shone out with a
transfiguring fire. Where other conductors are often undone by
Bruckner’s tempi changes and abrupt transitions, Karajan presents each
entire symphony in a single musical line, as though they have been cut
from a single, shimmering cloth."

Best regards. oscar.olavarria

 

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

Hindsight is 20-20, and it's all too easy to accuse an ambitious person (and who isn't?) of being a Nazi, so try living in a totalitarian regime, see what decisions and compromises you have to make in order to survive and get on, and then come back and make your comments.

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

>so try living in a totalitarian regime...

More importantly, we have to ask ourselves as to why a sophisticated European culture - the birthplace of the enlightenment -  degenerated into a fascist totalitarian regime. We can't just go around blaming individuals like Karajan or Wagner, and is this what Bruckner is warning about on his deathbed as he tried to piece together the last few bars of his 9th Symphony finale jigsaw?

DSM


RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

[quote=DarkSkyMan]

>so try living in a totalitarian regime...

More importantly, we have to ask ourselves as to why a sophisticated European culture - the birthplace of the enlightenment -  degenerated into a fascist totalitarian regime. We can't just go around blaming individuals like Karajan or Wagner, and is this what Bruckner is warning about on his deathbed as he tried to piece together the last few bars of his 9th Symphony finale jigsaw?

DSM

[/ quote]

What every left wing historian fails to fully remember is that totalitarian fascist regimes came as a response to totalitarian communist regimes (or the threat of). Karajan may or may not have been a Nazi but he certainly enhanced his position by pretending to be one when it helped and pretending not to be one when it helped.


of conducting

If even the "opponents" of Karajan called him "influential", that's enough for his role and importance in the history of conducting in 20th century. "Bad" (or not) influence is irrelevant and it is a pure value judgement. Influence divides on the basis of individual or group's interests, perceptions, viewpoints etc.

Influential people shape the course of things to come and leave their mark in the development of the History of Politics, Art, Science etc. However, I would not call Karajan primarily an influential conductor. I think he was more a sort of visionary, who pursued firmly and with consistency his goals, than influential, at least with the political sense of the term.

Parla

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

Karajan left an over sweet saccherine taste in the mouth of music. Is influence caused many performances to die of diabetes. 

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

50milliarden wrote:

The BPO was the world's best orchestra in the 30's and 40's and the person responsible for it reaching "top form" was someone whose shoes Karajan wasn't even worthy to tie. When he took over as chief conductor, he just inherited Furtwängler's legacy, a legacy on which he didn't so much build on, but replaced it with his own misguided vision.

Was it the unequivocally the "best" orchestra in that era? I would have thought that strong cases could be made for Boston/Koussevitsky or Philadephia/Stokowski amongst others.

What is your evidence that Furtwangler was responsible for the orchestra reaching "top form" technically - weren't they already considered great to some extent when he took over? (Certainly they sound as good under e.g. Abendroth from the same era.)

Ted

 

RE: Karajan "The vienna Years"

50milliarden wrote:

The BPO was the world's best orchestra in the 30's and 40's and the person responsible for it reaching "top form" was someone whose shoes Karajan wasn't even worthy to tie. When he took over as chief conductor, he just inherited Furtwängler's legacy, a legacy on which he didn't so much build on, but replaced it with his own misguided vision.

Was it unequivocally the "best" orchestra in that era? I would have thought that strong cases could be made for Boston/Koussevitsky or Philadephia/Stokowski amongst others.

What is your evidence that Furtwangler was responsible for the orchestra reaching "top form" technically - weren't they already considered great to some extent when he took over? (Certainly they sound as good under e.g. Abendroth from the same era.)

Ted

 

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