Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber

Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber

by Charles Barber


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Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004) was the greatest conductor of his generation. His reputation is legendary, and yet astonishingly, in his five decades on the podium, he conducted only 89 concerts, some 600 opera performances, and produced 12 recordings. How did someone who worked so little compared to his peers achieve so much?

Between his relatively small output and well-known aversion to publicity, many came to regard Kleiber as reclusive and remote, bordering on unapproachable. But in 1989 a conducting student at Stanford University wrote him a letter, and an unusual thing occurred: the world-renowned conductor replied. And so began a 15-year correspondence, study, and friendship by mail.

Drawing heavily on this decade-and-a-half exchange, Corresponding with Carlos is the first English-language biography of Kleiber ever written. Charles Barber offers unique insights into how Kleiber worked based on their long and detailed correspondence. This biography by one friend of another considers, among other matters, Kleiber's singular aesthetic, his playful and often erudite sense of humor, his reputation for perfectionism, his much-studied baton technique, and the famous concert and opera performances he conducted.

Comic and compelling, Corresponding with Carlos explores the great conductor's musical lineage and the contemporary contexts in which he worked. It repudiates myths that inevitably crop up around genius and reflects on Kleiber's contribution to modern musical performance. This biography is ideal for musicians, scholars, and anyone with a special love of the great classical music tradition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810881433
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 11/30/2011
Pages: 404
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Charles Barber is artistic director of City Opera Vancouver. He is the author of Lost in the Stars: The Forgotten Musical Life of Alexander Siloti (Scarecrow, 2002). More information can be seen on his website

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Permissions ix

Preface xi

Introduction xiii

1 Family 1

Parallax 6

Origins 8

The First Kleiber Debut 10

Wozzeck 11

South America 12

KLB Kleiber 12

Against the Swastika 15

Safe in the South 16

After the War 20

2 Career 27

Fables 38

How It Began 40

The First Walkout 47

Moving Ahead 58

Moving Abroad 70

At Bayreuth 72

Donkeys in Japan 74

Fledermaus 76

Two Emperors, No Kingdom 80

Paying a Price 83

Night and Perfect Love 85

Hand across the Sea 96

A Very Bad Year 109

Surviving Fame 112

The Seventh 113

Apogee 122

Carlos the Critic 129

Carlos the Teacher 134

The Long Goodbye 139

3 Correspondence, 1989-2003 181

It Begins 183

Epilogue 281

Appendix A Discography 297

Appendix B Filmography 309

Carlos Kleiber 309

Erich Kleiber 313

Appendix C Films Sent to Carlos Kleiber 315

Appendix D Kleiber Worklists Tom Hirosawa 341

Repertoire Given in Performance 341

Performances 343

Opera Houses 344

Symphony Orchestras 344

Bibliography 347

Index 353

About the Author 365

What People are Saying About This

Evgeny Kissin

‘An artist par excellence’, and ‘creativity par exellence’ - those are the definitions that come to mind when one thinks of Carlos Kleiber. Each time he conducted, it seemed that the music was being created anew that very moment in all its greatness, beauty and freshness. How wonderful that now we have a book about this genius. Bravo and many heartfelt thanks to Dr. Charles Barber for his work!

Valery Ryvkin

Having heard most of the world's best conductors in the last 35 years, I can safely say that none brought so much passion, energy and exquisite musicality and beauty to their work as did Carlos Kleiber. La Bohéme and Der Rosenkavalier under his baton at the Met will remain among my most treasured memories. In this fascinating work Charles Barber offers a rare glimpse into the enigma that was Carlos Kleiber.

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