Carlos Kleiber

Carlos Kleiber: Traces to Nowhere

  • A Film by Eric Schulz

With Plácido Domingo, Brigitte Fassbaender, Otto Schenk, Veronika Kleiber, Michael Gielen & Manfred Honeck…

It is my own view that Carlos Kleiber had music in his DNA, and that the set of compositions that he performed were personally very meaningful to him. He conducted 60 operas. He also loved the music of Johann Strauss Jr, and also the operas of Richard Strauss.

Carlos Kleiber was an astoundingly capable conductor. In addition, he made extraordinary efforts to verbally communicate how he wanted the music performed. Frequently these communications could be frustrating to orchestra players. But in the end… the results were magical. And if one watches carefully, you can see that smile on his face, when he was satisfied. Like no other conductor, he insisted on having the orchestra players listen to the one instrumental section, or the one Oboe player to whom the composer handed the melody. That made Kleiber’s music sublime!

Kleiber’s relationship with his father, who was also a well-known conductor, was complicated. It is said that the father on occasion introduced his young son by saying: “This is my son, Carlos, he has no musical talent whatsoever…” Perhaps that’s why ultimately Carlos chose to become a conductor, so he could prove to the old man how wrong he was!

On the 11th July 2004, when he was 74, Carlos Kleiber got into his car and drove from Munich to his holiday home in the remote Slovenian village of Konjsica. There he wrote a final letter to a friend in which he bid farewell to the world. A short time later the conductor, increasingly plagued by illness and suffering, was found dead. His wife had died earlier, and my sense is that he simply did not want to go on…

This documentary “Traces to Nowhere” represents the first film dedicated to the enigmatic personality of the conductor. The film follows in the traces of Kleiber’s final journey and, by means of the recollections of friends and other companions – including the first and only interview with his sister Veronika – portrays a man as renowned for his difficult personality as his brilliant work.

“What he left us is that tremendous emptiness of losing a friend, and a genius.”

…………………………………Plácido Domingo

“Kleiber was a living legend. His incredible reputation preceded him wherever he went.”
…………………………………Otto Schenk

Here is a video with some examples of Kleiber’s rehearsal techniques:

And here is Carlos Kleiber in Johann Strauss II “Die Fledermaus” overture: Notice the terrific rhythms and dance-like quality of this performance: It take you directly to a Viennese Ball!


Tags: Carlos Kleiber, Traces to Nowhere, film by Eric Schulz

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