Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral" with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan. Commanding the podium with his slender figure, theatrical shock of hair and penetrating blue eyes, Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) projected the hieratic image of the conductor as officiant of some quasi-mystic rite. And anyone who ever saw him conduct live or on his many audiovisual recordings will agree that in his performances, music did indeed become a religion and Karajan its high-priest. Karajan embodied classical music in the general consciousness as an epoch-making conductor, media star, opera producer, festival director and festival founder. But in spite of his Promethean and widely varied activities, he remained a superb conductor, with a grasp of the standard orchestral and operatic repertory from Mozart to Schoenberg that was unsurpassed among his peers. Karajan's most controversial production was director Hugo Niebeling's highly personal interpretation of the "Pastoral Symphony", with its abstract shots of instruments, rapid rhythms, fade-ins and symbolically arranged colors. Some critics raved: "This music film could have been made by Antonioni, Fellini or Godard."


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