Who Was Carlos Kleiber?
Ivan Hewett explores the musical enigma of the late conductor Carlos Kleiber. Despite huge demand and adulatory critical praise for his work, he gave very few performances and never granted an interview, increasing speculation about his art and personality. Ivan talks to some of the few who knew Kleiber well and attempts to explain his mercurial and electrifying genius.
While most great conductors have strongly-defined profiles, views and attitudes, Kleiber, the son of an equally feted conductor was and remains an enigma, with rumours about him circulating far more freely than facts. Primarily a recluse, he could only be persuaded into the public arena, at least since the late 1980s, by the combination of a momentous event, long rehearsal times and a huge fee. These performances, though, were nothing less than life-changing: concerts with the impact of religious events. Kleiber was also one of the few maestros who, although very demanding at rehearsal, was adored by the musicians who played for him - and by other conductors.
But why did he give so few performances? Why his obvious insecurities? Did he really only make records 'when the freezer ran out of food'? And what about Kleiber the man - his life, his friends, his loves, his obsessions?