Carlos Kleiber Conducts Beethoven's Seventh Symphony
In defence of the magazine, it should be mentioned that the ranking was done on the basis of who the current conductors had chosen and how often. And the top three were tabulated as follows:
1. Carlos Kleiber
Fresh from watching Abbado conducting the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in a sensational concert last year in Lucerne (on an Accentus Music DVD), I would certainly put Abbado near the top of any such list. And Bernstein would be there too. No. 4 on the list, by the way, was Herbert von Karajan, and on my list he too would rank with the very best as would Toscanini and Furtwangler.
But most surprising to me - and perhaps to others too - was the selection of Carlos Kleiber (1930- 2004) as Numero Uno. After all, he conducted fewer concert and opera performances than anyone else on the list. According to BBC Music "he conducted just 96 concerts in his life, and about 400 opera performances." Moreover, he had a tiny repertoire which included only four of the nine Beethoven symphonies and two of the Brahms symphonies and no Bruckner or Mahler at all. And contemporary music? Forget about it. He was notoriously reluctant to conduct anywhere. It didn't help that he demanded far more rehearsal time than any other conductor. In the early 1990s he stopped conducting altogether except for the occasional benefit concert. Karajan famously said that Carlos Kleiber only accepted conducting engagements when his freezer was running low.
For more about Carlos Kleiber - not to be confused with his father Erich Kleiber, also a famous conductor - visit the website www.carlos-kleiber.com.
The video shows Carlos Kleiber in 1983 conducting the last movement from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
- Paul E. Robinson