I've also answered this in another Internet context.
Be it known I am not member of any "Celibidache cult" or "coterie". There
are many and I say *many* Celibidache recordings I simply cannot stand.
However, Holland's article is absolutely horrible, a piece of gratuitous
venom written by an uninformed (at least in this subject) tuppence
journalist. The insinuation contained in the phrase "His prosperity seems
not to have suffered under the Nazis during the war years, but let us move
on from that." is as dirty as the rest of the article. Shame to New York
The packaging of a new boxed set from Deutsche
Grammophon tells us most of what we need to know:
"Celibidache" in large letters at the top; "Dvorak,
Sibelius, Franck, Hindemith, Richard Strauss,
Shostakovich" in significantly smaller type. At the
bottom of the box's back cover in three languages: "The
Celibidache Edition: The Recording Legacy of a Musical
Clearly this is the trickle-down theory of economics
transferred to music. Heap riches of attention on the
conductor's throne, and they will gradually descend on
composers. Here was a man of enormous gifts
pretty much destroyed by the monstrousness of his ego.
The causality drawn between the DG packaging of a Celibidache
Celibidache's ego is a sample of slanderous crap. Celibidache
conceive, sanction or even imagine a *posthumous* discographic
his recordings, nor did he leave, to my knowledge, a will
indications on the size of the letters his name was supposed to
be on the
Celibidache publicly rejected recorded performances,
yet his recorded performances are everywhere.[..........]
The insinuation that Celibidache was hypocritical in this
respect is a
piece of slanderous crap. In my opinion too "Celibidache had an
enormous ego", but he was also an honest and consistent with himself
in his utterances great artist (in which utterances, for the record and
FWIW, I do not believe 100%) on recordings industry and he gave up, for
decades, tones of money in order to be consistent with his principles. The
fact that some of his concerts still were recorded was due to the
impossibility of (even a) Celibidache to legally control 100% what *was
done by others* with the recordings of his concerts.
The conductor, who died in 1996, once
said that hearing electronically a concert that had
already happened was like "sleeping with a picture of
Marilyn Monroe." Yet these events took place with
full knowledge that they would be transcribed and
broadcast. It was not the first time that Celibidachian word and
Another piece of slanderous crap. Celibidache repeatedly
declared how he was compelled, in different phases of his career, to allow
some of the concerts to be broadcasted as it was a source of income for
the orchestral musicians and he couldn't always ask from them the same
sacrifices he was ready to make. Whenever he had control, and he could
choose between his artistic principles and money, he was consistent with
Once, a reporter, suspicious of
Celibidache's laments and regrets over a 1983
videotaping, went to the program's producers, who made
clear that the conductor had meticulously and
enthusiastically cooperated with all the retakes and lighting
Oy, such a discovery! So that Celibidache lamented in principle
the commercialization inherent, IH[is]O, in the recordings industry,
would have been incompatible with his trying, *once he accepted, in
old age, to "compromise"*, to do as good a job as possible! Another piece
of slanderous crap.
Foremost in the listener's ear is the conductor. Celibidache
claimed to be
a servant of the composer's
intentions, but he acts more like a decision maker
working from compositorial suggestions.
Oh, is that so? Celi "doesn't let the music speak for itself",
For God's sake, there are Celi performances that do not work to
my ears at all, but because they do not work, not because the conductor
"puts himself foremost in the listener's ear"! This is not slanderous, but
it is a piece of crap nevertheless. Professional crap.
Other items include Sibelius's Fifth, Shostakovich's
Ninth and Bruckner's Third, Fourth and Fifth
Symphonies, and Strauss's "Till Eugenspiegel" and "Don
Juan." Celibidache's range, perhaps like that of
his coterie of devotees, is not wide. When listeners
know the notes by heart, it frees them to concentrate on
crucial matters --- like conducting.
I start thinking that NOT the different "coteries" -- be them of
Celibidache, Furtwangler, Toscanini, or whomever else -- are to
be deplored, but the critics obsessed with them should seek
The present version of Dvorak's B minor
Cello Concerto raises such questions. Jacqueline du Pre
plays the solos with heart- stopping intensity and
clean musical values, but add in Celibidache's
oppressiveness, and what we hear is Dvorak's songful,
lyrical, altogether lovely concerto crushed under the
weight of its interpreters. Musicians who truly love
music get out of its way.
Another piece of slanderous crap. "Musicians who truly love
music"????? NYT decides on that too, now?
IMO it is a wonderful recording but I am probably not licensed by mr
Holland to "truly love" music.
Mr. Celibidache had a lifetime contract as music
director of the Munich Philharmonic, and his work as an
orchestra builder is recorded there in the near
shambles he left behind for his successor, James Levine.
Do you agree with this piece of slanderous crap? Regardless of
one's opinion on Celibidache's ego or his tempos, do you really think
his outstanding work as an orchestra builder can be minimized? Did
MunichPO ever sound better, purely as an orchestra, even with such
remarkable conductors like Kempe or Kabasta? I don't think so.
Please, do dislike Celibidache's recordings all you like. As I
said, I came to think the man had an authentic, unique talent, took
risks, and left recordings that range from sublime (most of his Bruckner
especially, but not only) to (to my poor ears) ridiculous, *in terms of
interpretive choices*. But I cannot stand insinuations that he was an
incompetent bore, able only to talk, and that "American orchestras
[should] beware", as His Mediocrity and Stupidity Mr Holland puts it
(beware of what?? where are the legions of dangerous young Celibidaches
threatening the "health" of the American concert life, pray???). James
Levine, Holland's ideal of a conductor as it seems, did not make, in his
best recordings, an infinitesimal fraction of the music Celibidache made,
in his best recordings.
So, Mr Holland, if anybody is forwarding this to you, please, please have
the courtesy to go behind the bushes and double-fugue yourself until your
mind comes back where it belongs.
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