July 16, 2015
Today marks 26 years since the death of Herbert von Karajan
Twenty-six years ago today, on 16 July 1989, Herbert von Karajan passed away at the age of 81.
His beloved Salzburg Festival, through which he dominated musical life in his hometown from 1948 until his death, opens this weekend; the 2015 edition features Angela Gheorghiu in Werther, Jonas Kaufmann in Fidelio and a 90th-birthday tribute to French composer Pierre Boulez among its 73 events.
The Herbert von Karajan golden age in Salzburg began in the postwar years, when in 1948 he made his opera debut conducting Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice. He was appointed artistic director in 1956, inaugurated the Large Festival Hall in 1960 with a performance of Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, and remained closely connected to the festival in the decades that followed.
'Das Wunder Karajan', who remins the best-selling classical recording artist of all time, was prolific in the studio and championed sound technology. Shortly before his death, he mused: "I would like to cryogenically freeze my body and come back in 25 years. One could redo everything one had done, adapting to the recording techniques of 2015."
Warner Classics has done the next best thing. Using advanced technology in the world’s most famous studio at Abbey Road London, a team of leading sound engineers remastered the maestro's complete orchestral recordings for EMI (1946-84) in 24-bit/96kHz high-definition sound.
From this Karajan Official Remastered Edition, 20 classic albums are now available as digital exclusives - for a medium the great conductor himself would have certainly embraced.
“With the discs I recorded, with the music I created,” declared Karajan, “I am eternal.”
The 2015 Salzburg Festival runs from 18 July to 30 August.