Karajan conducting: five fantastic Karajan moments

We remember the great maestro 25 years after his death

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Today marks 25 years since the death of Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan. Described as ‘the music director of Europe’ and ‘Das Wunder Karajan’ in his time, Karajan was undoubtedly one of the most influential conductors of the 20th Century. To remember his remarkable musical presence, we have found five fantastic performances to watch online.

 

1. Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 'From the New World'
Karajan's ability to draw out a brilliant range of orchestral colours with minimal hand gestures is apparent in this performance of Dvořák's New World Symphony by the Vienna Philharmonic.

 

2. Mozart: Requiem
Karajan was known for boldy approaching early music in the same way as he did late-Romantic works. His interpretation of Mozart's Requiem is much heavier than period performances of the work.

 

3. Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Karajan's preference for heavier musical interpretations is also evident in Evgeny Kissin's performance of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 under his leadership: the pianist's performance with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Philharmonic is noticeably lighter.

 

4. Holst: The Planets
Another name given to Karajan was the ‘emperor of legato’. The beautiful rendition of Venus, the Bringer of Peace (7:21) in this Berlin Philharmonic recording makes a strong case for this. 

 

5. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 'Pathétique'
Karajan was a conductor who placed a lot of importance in an orchestra's ability to work as though it were a chamber group. The fantastic uniformity of the Vienna Philharmonic's articulation and phrasing in this performance is testament to that.

 

Camellia Johnson

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