Karajan and direction

Seiji Ozawa recalls Karajan’s overarching concept of music:

I really shouldn’t start comparing Karajan and Bernstein. I’m thinking of the word “direction” – the direction of the music. In Maestro Karajan’s case, he had it from birth – the ability to make long phrases. It was something he taught us, the ones who studied with him. Lenny was more what you’d call a genius. He had an instinctive ability to make long phrases, but he couldn’t do it consciously, intentionally. In Maestro Karajan’s case, he would set his desires in motion by sheer force of will – in Beethoven, say, or Brahms. So when Karajan was conducting a Brahms, for example, his will had this overwhelming strength. And, he would give it priority even if that meant sacrificing details of the ensemble. He demanded the same thing from us disciples.

H. Murakami, Absolutely on Music, London, Vintage, 2016, p.15.

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