Otto Klemperer

Inspired by the CD jewel case picture of Klemperer in

Douglas start again!

I can hardly wait to hear what pearls of wisdom will drop.

Is this a forum form of coitus interruptus?

It’s a good job that I wasn’t holding my breath, waiting…

…what happened to @Douglas ??

Nothing happened to Douglas except domestic duties took over this morning and the Forum had to be posponed until now. Good ot you to enquire of my wellbeing fellow members.
The picture on the CD jewel case of Klemperer and the fourth symphony of Bruckner in Ecos and the LP12 thread reminded me of my visits to the RFH in my late 20s/early 30s when Dr K was still conducting. I am now in my late seventies so my musical and audio memory may be a little less precise. He needed to be helped up onto the box by probably two assistants who placed him onto a raised stool. This was after he had suffered a sroke and had only a few years to live. I can only describe his conducting as “fluttery” so was there a degree of autopoilet between him and the (New) Philharmonia?
BBC TV broadcast his Beethoven symphony cycle: I think this tied in with a Beethoven birth or death. Some footage did the conductor no favours.
Saw him conduct Beethoven 9 and had booked a second visit the next week. He was too ill to attend so Colin Davis stood in. Klemperer also did Bruckner 6. I must have seen him in other roles but we are going on 50 years ago.
However what does stick in my mind is a performance of the 4th symphony of Mahler. Bear in mind both Klemperer and Bruno Walter studied with the composer so there was a direct link. The hall must have been really crowded as my seat was on the back row of the balcony, as for away from the stage as you can get. Can still recall the strings/harp reduction to silence at the end of the work.


Good that you’re back unscathed, Douglas. Back to Klemperer, if I may.

There is a very famous B/W photograph, taken in Berlin in !930 (I think) of five of the most world-renowned conductors - Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, Erich Kleiber, Arturo Toscanini and Wilhelm Furtwaengler - who were all active in music in that city, before the vile Nazis came to power. Someone who is cleverer than I should post a copy of it here.

It must have been extraordinary to have such heavyweight musical firepower all in one place. And it makes the stories of Carlos Kleiber, Celibidache and Wolfgang Sawallisch fighting amongst themselves in Munich some fifty years later seem almost puny by comparison.

Good to be back. There is always something on the Forum to get ideas up amd running.
Looking at conductors and their approach to both the orchestras and us, the paying public, its my guess the era of “I am the boss and you will do as I say” have long gone.
These days its often the orchestra management team who do the asking. LSO?
On the other hand if you are going to get 120 musicians to do what you want and in concert say nothing except wave a stick you need to get your point of view over.
I thougt a recent Sky Arts documentary on Marin Alsop got the balance about right.

1 Like

Is this the one?

“Five of the foremost conductors of their generation, photographed at a banquet in Berlin in the summer of 1929. From left to right: Bruno Walter (conductor of the Berlin City Opera), Arturo Toscanini (at the time departing from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, about to become co-director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and a regular visitor to Berlin), Erich Kleiber (conductor of the Berlin State Opera), Otto Klemperer (conductor of the Berlin State Opera’s subsidiary at the Kroll Theater), and Wilhelm Furtwängler (conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra).”


Thats the one Tony! I had forgotten how tall Dr K was.

That is indeed the photo that I remembered, thank you.

I wonder how they got on amongst themselves.

I bet that each one thought they were the best. Conducting is not for shrinking voilets.

Yes, it’s sad to see him looking so tall. He was a greatly diminished figure (in every sense) when he came to London to take control of Legge’s Philharmonia.

I have an old EMI LP at home (Kurt Weill, I think) which contains Klemperer’s own composition, ‘Merry Waltz’, which is not at all what you’d expect from Dr K.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.