Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Paging Dr. Klemperer

My Pennario research touches on Otto Klemperer because Klemperer conducted when Pennario first performed, as a teenager, with the Los Angeles Symphony.

Anyway. Long story short, I found this from a tribute to Klemperer by Harold Schonberg:

..If the German tradition was paramount in Klemperer's approach, his intellectual background was wide enough to encompass the entire ethic of the Western world. The late Wieland Wagner once summed up Klemperer:

"Classical Greece, Jewish tradition, medieval Christendom, German Romanticism, the realism of our own time, make Klemperer the conductor a unique artistic phenomenon."

Well, yeah, I guess that just about covers it.

You have all that stuff down, I guess as a conductor you are just about set!

Apparently Klemperer as a conductor was very exacting. Schonberg tells the story of how William Steinberg recalled momentarily forgetting a couple of the tempos from Wagner's "Lohengrin," after which Klemperer held him in contempt for months. Klemperer had these extremely high standards. It is no wonder he liked Pennario.

Above is a picture of young man Klemperer. There are a bunch of them out there like that, in which he looks kind of like Gustav Mahler. Cute, you know? You are used to pictures of old man Klemperer, thus.

And thus:

No photo page of Klemperer would be complete without a shot of his son, Werner, as Colonel Klink.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau told a tremendous story about Otto Klemperer in his memoir "Reverberations." God, it was funny. It was about how the singers had a complaint about Klemperer's tempo in Bach. I think it was the St. Matthew Passion. And Fischer-Dieskau drew the short straw and had to bring up this delicate matter with Klemperer.

And Fischer-Dieskau had it in his head, because he was young and you do dumb things when you are young, to tell Klemperer he had dreamed that he asked God some things about the tempo. It was something like that. I will have to look it up.

In any case Klemperer snarled to him that he, too, had had a dream about God.

"And God said, 'Tell me, Dr. Klemperer, who is this Fischer?"

The greatest thing about that story is of course that God addressed Klemperer as Dr. Klemperer.

I think in heaven He is doing that now.

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