Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92, II: Allegretto, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Carlos Kleiber, cond.
In this recording, the string parts are played pizzicato all the way to the end of the movement instead of returning to arco for its last few bars as indicated by the score. Compare this to a performance that follows the score’s instructions.
슈베르트의 낭만성, 또는 ‘병적 낭만주의'라고 부르는 치명적이고도 여린 감성은 근대 예술의 이중적인 모습을 동시에 보여준다. 낭만주의에 이르기까지 예술은 그 시대가 '교회적(금욕적)'이든 '세속적(영웅적)'이든 언제나 목적을 위한 수단으로만 간주되었으며, 결코 독자적인 목표를 추구하지 않는 것으로 인식되어 왔다.
낭만주의자들은 자신의 감정적 특징을 묘사할 때마다 늘 '향수'나 '고향상실'이라는 단어를 넣곤 하였다. 이때의 향수는 호적상의 고향을 그리워한다는 것이 아니라 노발리스가 말하였듯이, “어디에서나 집처럼 느끼고 싶은 충동’ 또는 "어디에나 있으면서 아무 데도 없는 고향적인 서계에 대한 꿈"을 가르키는 것이다. 고향에 댜한 향수와 먼 곳에서 대한 그리움은 낭만주의자들의 공통된 감정이었다.
프리드리히의 그림과 뮐러의 시와 슈베르트의 음악에는 삶의 빛보다는 죽음의 그림자가 더 짙다. 끝없이 방황하는 사내는 쓸쓸하고 황량한 들판이나 무덤에서 한숨을 쉰다. 사람들은 이러한 정서를 '병적 낭만주의'라고 부르지만, 정말로 '병적'인 정서는 아니었다. 오히려 삶에 대한 강렬한 애착의 다른 표현이며, 자신과 주변 사람들에 대한 애틋한 사랑의 호소이자 자기 시대의 간절한 포옹이었다. 즉 시대의 표현이며 방식이었던 것이다. 슈베르트의 피아노곡 <방랑자 환상곡>과 현악 4중주<죽음과 소녀>를 들어보라. 그리고 교향악적으로 짜인 <현악5중주>와 비극적 서정으로 충만한 <교향곡 8번 미완성>을 들어보라. 이 곡들은 표면적으로는 치명적인 병에 걸린 비참한 자기 모습을 그린 것이며 이루지 못한 사랑에 대한 한없는 기다림이기도 하지만, 무엇보다도 억누를 수 없는 자기성찰의 충동과 광적인 내면 집착, 그리고 이같은 개인적 망명을 '강요'하였던 19세기 초의 사회적 상황이 뒤엉켜 있는 혼돈의 증거들이다. 슈베르트의 음악은 자신의 역사적, 사회적 상황에 적응 할 수 없었던 낭만주의자의 참회록이었으며, 그는 그 침통한 참회록을 통해 근대 예술의 고독한 길을 예시할 수밖에 없었던 비통한 기록자였다.[클래식 시대를 듣다, 정윤수 저]
Doing a piece from memory is something your Aunt Sally would have no trouble with. Knowing exactly what is going on is something, I believe, only Mitropoulos could honestly claim to. With the right band in a good, condescending mood, there’d be no audible difference between Sally and Dmitri, if Sally had digested the overall ductus.
Eugène Lami, Listening to the first performance in Paris of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony
Hector Berlioz, in the Gazette Musicale of April 9, 1837:
“It is now thirty-six or thirty-seven years since music by Beethoven, whose works were then totally unknown in France, was first played at the Concerts spirituels given at the Opera. Today it is hard to believe the condemnation with which most musicians greeted this wonderful music. It was considered grotesque, incoherent, long-winded, bristling with harsh modulations and primitive harmonies, devoid of melody, extravagant in expression, noisy, and horribly difficult. To satisfy the men of taste who ruled in the Académie Royale de Musique at the time, M. Habeneck was forced to make dreadful cuts in the very symphonies he later directed with such art at the Conservatoire, cuts which could at most be allowable in a ballet by Gallenberg or an opera by Gaveaux. Without these corrections, Beethoven would never have been granted the honor of appearing on the program of these Concerts spirituels between a bassoon solo and a flute concerto. At the first rehearsal, when Kreutzer heard the passages marked later in red pencil, he ran out covering his ears.”
Carlos Kleiber directs the final movement of the Seventh, playlist of the full symphony here:
Télex from Toscanini (Heaven) to Celidibache (Munich):
We have read you in the Spiegel. You get on our nerves, but we forgive you. We have no choice anyway; forgiveness is in style Up Here. Potatosack Karli made some objection, but after Kna and I had a heart-to-heart talk with him, he stopped whinning.
Wilhelm  now all of a sudden insist that he has never even heard of you. Papa Josef, Wolfgang Amadeus, Ludwig, Johannes and Anton  all prefer the second violins on the right and claim that your tempi are all wrong. But actually, they don’t really give a damn about it. Up Here, we are not supposed to give a damn about anything. The Boss does not allow it.
An old Zen master who lives next door says you got all wrong about Zen Buddhism. Bruno  is totally cracked up by your comments. I have the suspicion that he secretly shares your views about me and Karli. Maybe you could say something mean about him for a change; otherwise, he feels so left out.
I hate to break it to you, but everybody up here is crazy about Herbert. In fact, the other conductors are a little jealous of him. We can’t wait to welcome him up here in fifteen or twenty years. Too bad you can’t be with us then.
But people say that where you will go the cuisine is much better, and the orchestras down there never stop rehearsing. They even make little mistakes on purpose, so that you can have a chance to correct them for all eternity.
I’m sure you will like that, Sergiu. Up here, the angels read the composer’s minds. We conductors only have to listen. Only God knows why I’m here.
Have lots of fun,
In old friendship,
This satyrical letter to Celibidache published on Der Spiegel is attributed to Carlos Kleiber. The letter was a reply to Celibidache’s comments about other conductors, past and present. About Karajan, he had said he was “horrible”, and called Karl Böhm (the Karlin in the letter), “a sack of potatos”. Other victims of Celibidache’s sharp tongue were the then young Claudio Abbado (”totally bereft of any talent”) and Riccardo Muti (”talented but ignorant”). It must be said that Kleiber wasn’t among the conductors attacked by Celibidache. Translations of this letter abound. This one can be found here.
Hans Knappertsbuch  Wilhelm Fürtwangler  Obviously Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner  Bruno Walter.
As long as there’s music, there will be mysterious men. Men who write oblique lyrics, record solitary albums at home, or refuse to give interviews. And while some of these men may act out of necessity, it’s also entirely possible that some see an advantage in acting mysteriously. Perhaps the audience rewards them for their behavior. I’m thinking back, now, to the rise of “mysterious guy hardcore” in the early ‘10s, when a bunch of bands achieved notoriety by putting out raw/distorted/sloppy/unrehearsed recordings accompanied by stark black and white imagery. The genre came off as gimmicky and soon disappeared. It now seems kind of quaint.
Okay, so that’s a cautionary tale about what could happen when musicians manufacture mystery to achieve some end. Of course, there are musicians who truly cannot operate in any other way, who must be mysterious because that’s the way they’re hardwired. Enter Carlos Kleiber. The son of Erich Kleiber, the famed Austrian composer of the early 20th century, Carlos took up his father’s profession, conducting for the first time in 1954 at the age of 24. It’s my contention that Kleiber peaked in the mid-‘70s when he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s fifth and seventh symphonies.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way to start a day than by putting on Beethoven’s Fifth. Today, however, I’ll be talking about the Seventh because of an incredible video courtesy of the YouTube user, Wong Chung. In it, Kleiber directs the Concertgebouw Orchestra (the Netherlands) playing the Seventh in 1983. Catnip for fans of classical music and for people with hearts/souls.
As a high schooler, I thought the primary function of a conductor was to conduct the orchestra/band on the night of a concert by dictating tempo, downbeats, crescendoes, etc.. This, coming from a person who rehearsed every weekday for four years. Clearly, the job is misunderstood. This video captures Kleiber during rehearsal in 1970. He frequently stops the orchestra to offer abstract instructions, such as, “They must not believe it’s dangerous, but they’re wrong. We want to have that tentative… [He sings a passage.] Anything can happen, and it probably will.” Many times, a member of his orchestra is filmed looking on in disbelief or disgust, and Kleiber does apologize, time and again, for not letting the group play through, but nevertheless, he persists in his interruptions because that’s what being a conductor is all about. At one point he tells the bells player to pick up his instrument and move it to an alcove (he calls it a “bunker”) in the back. There’s no right way to inspire an orchestra.
Two things are for certain: the Concertgebouw Orchestra was inspired on that night in 1983, and Kleiber was in top form. At 2:10, the camera cuts to a close-up of Kleiber in a sort of dreamy state. Smiling faintly, he seems to be looking over the orchestra. His baton work is gentle but authoritative. The quiet section at 3:49 features some really controlled, light playing and conducting, and at 4:27, when the main theme is played in full for the first time, Kleiber very nearly stops conducting. He loosely holds his baton, a faint pulse running through his arm, and dances. Kleiber actually dances to Beethoven’s melody, which is so utterly dance-worthy that one can’t blame him. It’s as if he’s saying, “You got this guys. I trust this melody, and I’ve trained you well. I’m going to luxuriate in this shit for a bit.”
What makes any of this mysterious? For that, we turn to Kleiber’s biography. Throughout his storied career, the man gave but one interview. He conducted about 90 concerts and didn’t much care for recording them. To compare, his contemporary, the great Herbert von Karajan, conducted and recorded constantly for like 30 years. When von Karajan resigned from the Berlin Philharmonic in 1989, Kleiber declined to be his replacement, and in the 90s, Kleiber demanded an Audi as payment for a stint guest conducting in Ingolstadt, Germany.
But does that make him mysterious? Obviously, yes, I’d say it does. To watch Kleiber conduct is to glimpse human mystery. His movements are alien, beautiful, inspiring. The way his hair floats above his head, the fact that he smiles so much. Why would a person who so obviously loves music opt out of performing it (Kleiber was notorious for canceling appearances)? Because he didn’t like to conduct–didn’t like the scrutiny, the possibility of failing, the work. His father’s success weighed heavily on him, and in the end, he’d conduct when he ran out of money. He lived until 2004, and like all mercurial geniuses, his stature has grown in death. I wish I could’ve seen him conduct, but I’m glad he allowed cameras into at least a couple of his concerts.