March 25, 2013


Herbert von Karajan was born in Salzburg on 5 April 1908. He initially showed great talent as a pianist but his music teacher, Bernard Paumgartner, persuaded him to concentrate on conducting. After studying under Franz Schalk in Vienna, Karajan was engaged in 1929 by the Ulm opera house, where he remained for five years. In 1934 he was appointed music director at Aachen and soon became one of the most important younger conductors in Germany. Four years later he joined the Berlin State Opera, where he worked until it was destroyed by bombing in 1944. 

In 1946 the EMI producer Walter Legge signed Karajan to record with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and shortly afterwards made him principal conductor of his newly formed Philharmonia Orchestra in London. In 1955 Karajan succeeded Furtwängler as director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and from 1957 until 1964 he was artistic director of the Vienna State Opera. He was also closely associated with the Salzburg Festival and initiated the Salzburg Easter Festival. 

Throughout his career Karajan was a prolific recording artist, making many of his best records for EMI Classics. Being interested in the technology of recording he continued to make both audio and video recordings right up to the time of his death, his name becoming synonymous with the best in mainstream classical music for millions of people around the world. He died on 16 July 1989 aged 81 at his home in Anif, Austria.