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In the immediate aftermath of World War 2, Austro-German conductors with suspected Nazi sympathies were verboten; -- however Furtwängler, Böhm, Knappertsbusch and young von Karajan -- were finally deposed by the Austrian denazification examining board in 1946; then they were snapped up by post-war agents. Karajan, a party member, had been shunned by Nazi leaders following his second marriage (1942) to part Jewess, Anita Güterman.

But following a stint with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, he became 'conductor for life' of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1955. Subsequently, as autocratic artistic director of the Salzburg Festival, Karajan appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and he remained a towering presence in festival proceedings for three decades [watch and listen -- chapter 23, 2:03.29-2:05.22].

Karajan and Anita divorced in 1958 and he promptly married nineteen-year-old French fashion model and painter, Eliette Mouret.

Though Palmer allows 'top drawer' singers and instrumentalists the freedom to comment on the festival workings and its directors, most notably the eminent, all powerful conductors; we also learn of legendary artists away from the concert hall -- Böhm through son Karlheinz Böhm's eyes plus rare footage of Karajan seen clowning around, in cars and aircraft, on the beach and at home with his family -- Eliette and daughter, TV actress Isabella von Karajan. We see his dog but none of many other animals -- and Karajan's llamas are simply referred to in passing.

The extended coverage of Böhm and Karajan is, in itself, worth the price of this DVD, and much is done to debunk the myth of Karajan's asperity -- here he's seen as fun-loving, shy, lonely, very private; disdainful of his contemporaries, yet always willing to pave the way for gifted newcomers.

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Copyright © 2 August 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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