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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

BBC Worldwide Press Releases

Carlos Kleiber voted greatest conductor of all time


Carlos Kleiber has today been crowned the greatest conductor of all time by a selection of 100 of today's finest maestros.

The poll, carried out by BBC Music Magazine, asked leading conductors including Sir Colin Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev and Mariss Jansons to reveal who they are most inspired by. Kleiber, the Austrian maestro who conducted just 96 concerts and around 400 operatic performances in his 74 years, was voted ahead of Leonard Bernstein and Claudio Abbado, who took second and third places respectively.

Susanna Mälkki, Music director, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and one of the conductors polled, commented: "Carlos Kleiber brought an incredible energy to music… Yes, he did have about five times as much time to rehearse than conductors do today, but he deserved it because his vision was remarkable, he knew what he wanted, and his attention to detail was truly inspiring."

Jeremy Pound, Deputy Editor of BBC Music Magazine, added: "Asking 100 of today's conducting greats to name their idols and inspirations was a fascinating experience. Not least when so many named Carlos Kleiber, who in the course of his whole lifetime conducted fewer concerts than most of them manage in just a couple of years. Kleiber's incredible attention to detail, sheer enthusiasm for music, and astonishingly accomplished level of performance could never be doubted – perhaps 'less is more' is the real path to true greatness?"

Of the top 20 conductors voted for, no fewer than seven are still regularly seen on the rostrum today, including Brits Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Sir Simon Rattle. Conducting may have enjoyed its famous Golden Age in the mid-20th century but, in the opinion of those who know the art better than anyone, today's leading maestros also undoubtedly rank with the best of all time.

The 20 greatest conductors of all time will be published in the April issue of BBC Music Magazine, on sale 17 March, priced £4.60.

In November 2010 BBC Music Magazine asked 100 leading conductors to name the maestros they admire above all others. When the votes were added up, the following top 20 emerged:

BBC Music Magazine's 20 greatest conductors of all time are:

  1. Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004) Austrian
  2. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) American
  3. Claudio Abbado (b1933) Italian
  4. Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) Austrian
  5. Nikolaus Harnoncourt (b1929) Austrian
  6. Sir Simon Rattle (b 1955) British
  7. Wilhelm Furtwängler (1896-1954)
  8. Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) Italian
  9. Pierre Boulez (b1925) French
  10. Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005) Italian
  11. Sir John Eliot Gardiner (b1943) British
  12. Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970) British
  13. Terenc Fricsay (1914-1963) Hungarian
  14. George Szell (1897-1970) Hungarian
  15. Bernard Haitink (b1929) Dutch
  16. Pierre Monteux (1875-1964) French
  17. Yevgeny Mravinsky (1903-1988) Russian
  18. Sir Colin Davis (b1927) British
  19. Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) British
  20. Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010) Australian

BBC Music Magazine is the world's best-selling classical music monthly. Covering all aspects of live events, broadcast and recordings, each issue carries a complete BBC work and provides a comprehensive and expert guide to classical music. BBC Music Magazine has a monthly circulation of 42,834 (ABC Jan-Dec 2010) and is published by BBC Magazines Bristol, a trading name of Bristol Magazines Ltd., which is a subsidiary of BBC Worldwide Ltd.

Carolyn Wray

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