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Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber by [Barber, Charles]
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Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Length: 404 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

An artist par excellence, and creativity par exellence - those are the definitions that come to mind when one thinks of Carlos Kleiber. Each time he conducted, it seemed that the music was being created anew that very moment in all its greatness, beauty and freshness. How wonderful that now we have a book about this genius. Bravo and many heartfelt thanks to Dr. Charles Barber for his work!--Evgeny Kissin, pianist"

'An artist par excellence', and 'creativity par exellence' - those are the definitions that come to mind when one thinks of Carlos Kleiber. Each time he conducted, it seemed that the music was being created anew that very moment in all its greatness, beauty and freshness. How wonderful that now we have a book about this genius. Bravo and many heartfelt thanks to Dr. Charles Barber for his work!--Evgeny Kissin, pianist

Having heard most of the world's best conductors in the last 35 years, I can safely say that none brought so much passion, energy and exquisite musicality and beauty to their work as did Carlos Kleiber. La Boheme and Der Rosenkavalier under his baton at the Met will remain among my most treasured memories. In this fascinating work Charles Barber offers a rare glimpse into the enigma that was Carlos Kleiber.--Valery Ryvkin, conductor

About the Author

Charles Barber is artistic director of City Opera Vancouver. He is the author of Lost in the Stars: The Forgotten Musical Life of Alexander Siloti (Scarecrow, 2002). More information can be seen on his website www.correspondingwithcarlos.com

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 15471 KB
  • Print Length: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (30 Nov. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0076M4UC4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #124,344 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Having read the book, I came here expecting to find reviews that disliked its 'hagiographic' feel. What I found was indeed comment about that, but accompanied by "But who cares, I don't", which is exactly how I felt too. I devoured the book and loved it. However a few cautions:

1 - The first half of the book is 'biographical' - but who could unearth a biography of Carlos Kleiber? 100% immersed in music, studying it remorselessly, one actually wonders whether there would be enough of a normal set of external events to make interesting reading. Barber ends up listing lots of performances and the singers at each (for me, dull) interspersed with juicy little anecdotes (great!!).

2 - The second half contains the correspondence. Barber sends Kleiber video cassettes of various conductors, and Kleiber replies with his impressions. Well - sort of. One might expect to learn a ton about conducting from these reactions, but most of the time Kleiber does no more than say whether he likes or dislikes the conductors, in the latter case just adding an adjective like ' s***ty'.

3 - There are only a few likes! But they are very much of interest. For instance, he loves Boult; and he recommends Boulez at one point, while rubbishing him at another. This alone has one pondering on why he likes particular conductors, so from that one can maybe learn.

4 - There are plenty of conductors he's pretty rude about. (He quotes Piglet from Winnie the Pooh shouting "Look at me swimming!" to suggest a quality he really doesn't like - marvellous!) This rudeness suggests a partial parallel with Volkov's Shostakovich 'memoirs': no doubt the man said these things privately, but never remotely intended them for publication.
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Format: Paperback
There is a guilty pleasure in reading private letters. I read these avidly, knowing that I shouldn't. Kleiber did not intend his quips and jibes to be made public. The letters show him to be highly intelligent, well-read, intellectually curious, witty, mercurial, wary, impatient when his correspondent is slow on the uptake, morally flawed (who isn't?), complicated, elusive, an enigma wrapped in a deflecting witticism, embarrassed by adulation... Take your pick. None of it is our business. We are just being nosy. Our business is with his professional career and his recorded legacy. The biographical section of this book relies heavily on "Maestro" by Helena Matheopoulos. There is a full-length biography by Alexander Werner. I wish some publisher would get it translated from the German. There is no need for any of us to read any of these books, of course. Simply listen to the well-nigh miraculous music-making (and try not to mourn too much the all-too-many performances that might have been).
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Format: Paperback
Charles Barber is a conductor at the city opera of Vancouver who claims that "Dr Barber is one of only three persons known to have studied with him [Carlos Kleiber], and did so from 1989 to Mr Kleiber's death in 2004. Barber received more than 200 letters, faxes, postcards and cartoons from Mr Kleiber during the course of their long correspondence." Well, it was rather the other way round: Barber kept sending Kleiber video tapes of famous conductors and asked him to comment, which Kleiber did in a often very amusing, but hardly very analytic, didactic manner. While Kleiber comes across as a very funny, albeit withdrawn person, whose wide-ranging interests beyond conducting (e.g. Emily Dickinson's poetry, history, politics) and sense of humour are fascinating, I must admit that I found Barber's biographical summary and particularly his contributions to the correspondence not very enlightening. As for being "taught" by Kleiber, the latter has to point out himself twice when asked to write a reference for Barber that there was no sort of personal, active teaching relationship: "How can you expect me to say (write) anything about you as a DIRIGENT [conductor] when I ain't seen or heard you at it?" (p. 262). Yes, indeed. And Kleiber seems not to have liked the video of Barber's own conducting that much, as he didn't comment on it - his "Look at me swimming" quote from Winnie the Pooh says it all. But he is patient enough to explain to his "pupil" the difference between "Takt" (meter or pulse) and "Rhythmus" - surely a very basic concept which any aspiring conductor and musician ought to come to grips with.
Kleiber comes across as still deeply involved with music, in spite of hardly conducting in public in his last years.
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LOVED it!!! To hear what this legend had to say about his contemporaries and others is fascinating. So glad that these letters were published!
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