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Carlos Kleiber

Carlos Kleiber


(3 July 1930 – 13 July 2004)


Son of an Austrian conductor and his American wife, his father wrote "What a pity the boy is musically talented", to a friend when his son Carlos as a child played piano and timpani while singing and composing.

Initially studying chemistry in Zurich he abandoned chemistry to become a repetiteur before making his conducting debut at the Potsdam theatre in 1954. From there he graduated to the larger opera houses and growing recognition until his last appointment as chief conductor in Stuttgart.

He reguarly conducted the Bavarian State Opera in the years that followed.

Carlos Kleiber spent a large part of his career as a freelance conductor, reserving his appearances for many "event" performances such as the 1966 Edinburgh Festival's production of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck, (a work his father had conducted at its premiere in 1925).

His Bayreuth debut was in 1974 with a performance of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde".

His American debut came in 1978 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1988, with Giacomo Puccini's La bohème with Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni.[

Kleiber returned to the Met in 1989 to conduct La Traviata, and in 1990, Otello and Der Rosenkavalier.

A man who closely guarded his privacy, Kleiber kept out of the public eye and reportedly never gave official interviews.

His public appearances became less frequent after he resigned from the Bavarian State Opera and he made very few recordings. Nonetheless, most of these are regarded as very fine.

His opera recordings include, Carl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischütz", Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus", Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" and Richard Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde".

Kleiber's filmed performances include "Der Rosenkavalier" (from both Munich and Vienna), Bizet's "Carmen" from Vienna and the New Year's Concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1989 and 1992.

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