|Herbert von Karajan - A Life In Pictures|
Music Book Review By Willard Manus
"To this day, Herbert von Karajan remains the embodiment of classical music all around the word. His omnipresence in the media was held against him--by those who did not understand what his aim was. Karajan's goal in life was to take music around the globe without having to market his personal life. The publicity photos showing him with fast cars, a yacht or jet gave the superficial viewer the illusion of a private intimacy which Karajan never allowed the audience. He was a master at this balancing act, avoiding scandals and embarrassments without catering to the masses as a media character. Since his death classical music has lost a broad public space that is now occupied by the mainstream and a deluge of industrial culture productions. By contrast, Herbert von Karajan's standards of quality shine timelessly as a lodestar in the musical firmament."
These comments by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter can be found in the introduction to HERBERT VON KARAJAN--A LIFE IN PICTURES, a 192-page book by Jurgen Otten which has just been published by Amadeus Press to commemorate the year of Karajan's centennial (he died in 1989).
Otten, a noted German musicologist and journalist, has contributed an essay on Karajan which discusses his life and work with much erudition and affection, tracing his need for musical perfection back to his childhood in Salzburg, where he studied piano and conducting. By 1935, when he was twenty-seven, Karajan had become the youngest music director of the Aachen Theatre. To qualify for the job, he also had to join the Nazi party.
The Nazi affiliation dogged Karajan in the post-war years, but he gradually worked his way back into major posts at Bayreuth, Berlin and Vienna. He later toured the USA, made countless records and built a reputation as one of the greatest, most demanding (and controversial) conductors of all time.
All that and more are contained in A LIFE IN PICTURES, whose 189 b&w and color photos show Karajan at work and play over the course of his long, productive life. Among the many indelible portraits are those of his wives, children and such collaborators as Sviatoslav Richter, Henry Georges Clouzot, Martti Tarvela, Jose Carreras and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, among others. Interspersed throughout are numerous Karajan quotes, my favorite of which is this one: "The art of conducting consists in knowing when to stop conducting to let the orchestra play."