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Karajan asks Menuhin what he expects of a conductor and offers him a tennis tip

This is Henri-Georges Clouzot’s fascinating, over-directed film about the encounter of two thoughtful, strong-minded, inflexible musicians. Both are playing to camera. Both flatter each other horribly. Neither reveals his inner self. Nonetheless, the film is compulsibly watachable.

Thanks to Daniel Hope for drawing it to our attention.

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  1. The flattery seems to be going mostly in one direction.

  2. Very interesting, thanks for posting Mr. Lebrecht. Karajan’s flock of birds analogy is great.

  3. It’s painful to watch. HvK is so full of himself. He avoids eye contact almost completely. He sits, Menuhin walks in and stands like a school boy in front of a teacher. HvK was a little man with a major narcissistic disorder and a great musical mind.

    • That he was full of himself (HvK) is without question. But my take is that he is struggling with his English. He was constantly trying to find the right word or phrase.

      Yehudi, OTOH, was incredibly articulate.

    • Yes, maybe, but it’s also significant that he conducted with his eyes closed. He didn’t want eye contact with his orchestra either. I tend to think that, whatever HvK’s great narcissism, his avoiding eye contact was an uncontrollable quirk.

      Also, i don’t think hosting TV programs is what anyone – fans or detractors – expect of him.

  4. If you watch a bit more of Karajan’s interviews you will notice that whenever he is thinking and looking for words his eyes get unfocused. It is a trait of a lot of visually oriented people, not a sign of deliberately avoiding eye contact. Even in this clip you can see him many times taking enthusiastic eye contact with Menuhin, but only when he is not trying to formulate a big thought in a foreign language.

    As to the setup, I think it is not a big deal that HvK is seated at the piano and Menuhin walks in. After all, Karajan is the host and Menuhin the guest, plus pianists have to sit at their instrument anyway while violinists prefer to stand when they play solo.

    • From the director of the celebrated documentary on Kleiber ” Traces to Nowhere” this does indeed look promising. Eagerly anticpated.

  5. Is there some form of paranoia here? Getting our little Freudian hats on over some rather badly-done, staged managed clip which was shot years ago? For goodness sake, you may hate Karajan ( and Menuhin too, no doubt) but don’t expect every one else to join the party of abuse.

  6. Peter - a different one from the other Peter says:

    Dated, wooden, awkward….yes all of that…. but still they had some interesting things to say. Especially Menuhin, a very thoughtfully and eloquent communicator.
    Thanks for posting.

  7. itrinkkeinwein says:

    Both of them have insufferable, pretentious accents. They remind me of Esa-Pekka Salonen today.

  8. One HvK is speaking from his cloud to a person JM who is on earth with both feeds on the ground. It must have been terrible for JM to listen to this ego minded person.

  9. Painfully stilted.
    A more inspired example of the Karajan/Clouzot collaboration is the rehearsal footage of Schumman’s 4th with the VSO.
    Once again, it feels somewhat staged but I can see why Glenn Gould described this as a revelation:

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