Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber (Anglais) Broché – 26 décembre 2013
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It is in two parts, a biographical section which includes the discussion of some of Kleiber's recordings (a score would be helpful to understand some of the remarks) and tells us a number of things about his character - the fact that he was extremely highly strung and over-sensitive - which we would not guess from Kleiber's letters. We are not told that he suffered from bipolar disorder. The second part of the book contains the letters of the conductor with summaries of Barber's letters interposed. Kleiber sends up a veritable smokescreen of great wit and humour. He claims to know nothing about how one should conduct though he occasionally says how a phrase should be played. It is a pity that the musical quotes, essential to understanding, are not given.
Kleiber's likes and dislikes among his colleagues are often surprising and amusing, though he rarely justifies his opinions. He admires Boult and Stokowski (not surprising) and also slowcoach Reginald Goodall yet strongly dislikes Celibidache for being too slow. Outside music, he has a particular affection for the poetry of Emily Dickinson - her mysterious, cryptic poetry reflects well Kleiber's character.
There is a fuller biography in German which is unlikely ever to be translated now but Charles Barber's makes for a very enjoyable alternative as he was one of the very rare people to have kept up a correspondance with the perplexing genius that was Carlos Kleiber.
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In any case, I do think that the author did a great job. Bravo, Maestro! His correspondence with Carlos is a treasure and he well knows it. But regardless of that the price of the book should not necessarily be in a class of Carlos' conducting fees. So, this is not a definite bio of Carlos Kleiber and the question is whether we're ever going to get one, considering the secretive nature of his being. But this book is fun, a lot of fun, many well known and less known anecdotes of the fascinating man and his world. His character simply radiates from the pages. There are many humorous treats which will be devoured by Kleiber's fans. I definitely propose watching, reading and listening to the sources mentioned in the book, and the read is an even bigger pleasure. The author did a good but limited effort with the bio part of the research, vastly inferior to say Osbourne's Karajan bio (a must read!) although the way I see it, this part, by no means a minor feat, is to be viewed merely as a prelude to the letters themselves. These are a treasure, that's for certain. They convey vividly Kleiber's complexity as a person, his playful side, formidable intellect as well as his hyperactive humor and self-doubt.
A fascinating perfectionist of a man indeed, and true to himself and the music he so loved. Another important stone in the mosaic of Carlitos' already stupendous pedigree.
Huge thumbs up for the loads of fun and joy that the book brings, big thumbs down for the price.
The fact of this correspondence is improbable beyond words, but we can be forever grateful to Dr. Barber for establishing a personal and professional friendship that prompted Carlos Kleiber to expound - in great detail, with great wit and almost painful self-deprecation - on a multitude of topics that are enjoyable to the lay person and indispensable to the serious musician. The anecdotes alone are worth the price - who could have known that he "stole" a technique from Duke Ellington to get the effect he wanted for the opening of Beethoven's Coriolanus, or of his enormous respect for the extraordinarily gifted and musically illiterate Danny Kaye as a conductor? But it's the insights Kleiber shares regarding specific works and the process of working with creative artists that are truly priceless to artists of all stripes.
To the author, thank you - and to the rest - buy and enjoy!!
While we wait for a true scholarly biography of the enigmatic Carlos Kleiber, we have this: the only English-language book about this magnetic Maestro available and perhaps the only one we're likely to have. It does not purport to be a full-scale biography of the man, as indicated by the title, yet it seems to be about as well researched as it's possible for a work like this to be. Still, because it is written from the perspective of an admiring conductor who began an unlikely correspondence with Kleiber while still a student conductor, this work is at times tinged with a hagiographical tone. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a wholly objective study of the man. That said, it may never be possible to fully dispel the mists surrounding the elusive, evasive, much-lauded but poorly understood Kleiber -- to include his relationship with both of his parents, not just his conductor-father -- to achieve the sort of biography of the man that the world deserves.