Born in Graz, Austria, Böhm studied law and earned a doctorate on this subject. He later studied music at the Graz Conservatory. On the recommendation of Karl Muck, Bruno Walter engaged him at Munich's Bavarian State Opera in 1921. Darmstadt (1927) and Hamburg (1931) were the next places he resided as a young conductor, before succeeding Fritz Busch as head of Dresden's Semper Opera in 1934. He secured a top post at the Vienna State Opera in 1943, eventually becoming music director.
This is the most beautiful of Mozart playing, his last piano concerto given here by Emil Gilels with total clarity. This is a classic performance, memorably accompanied by the VPO and Böhm. Suffice it to say that Gilels sees everything and exaggerates nothing, that the performance has an Olympian authority and serenity, and that the Larghetto is one of the glories of the gramophone. He's joined by his daughter Elena in the Double Piano Concerto in E flat, and their physical relationship is mirrored in the quality, and the mutual understanding of the playing: both works receive marvellous interpretations. We think Emil plays first, Elena second, but could be quite wrong. The VPO under Karl Böhm is at its best; and so is the quality of recording, with a good stereo separation of the two solo parts, highly desirable in this work.
“One of Böhm's last operatic assignments, he accompanies his fine cast with huge wisdom. Gruberova and Talvela are outstanding. August Everding's production, adventurous for 1980, is now a delight to look at” (BBC Music Magazine). “the performance has a winning glow, with an excellent cast of soloists. Edita Gruberova as Konstanze is at her freshest…[Grist's Blonde] is a charming and characterful assumption, most of all when confronting the powerful Osmin of Martii Tavela” (Penguin Guide).
Teresa Stratas has been called the world's greatest living singing actress, and she is seen and heard at the peak of her powers in the title role of director Götz Friedrich's spine-chilling version of Salome. on of the most highly acclaimed opera films ever made - with Strauss's score in the expert hands of his protégé Karl Böhm, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.
This DVD of Ariadne is a 1978 film based on Filippo Sanjust’s Vienna State Opera production. The bustling Prologue is set in the backstage area of the mogul’s palace and the 18th century costumes fit neatly. In the opera proper, the stage is transformed into a very stagey desert island with an improbable set of stairs leading to the heroine’s cave, the action spilling over into the theatre’s side boxes at times. While there’s nothing particularly imaginative about the production, it never distracts from the main event–the music. Strauss was profligate in his melodic gifts, his ability to make a reduced orchestra sound big, and his wonderful obsession with the female voice, which yields many glorious moments in the opera. Lavish casting helps.
The rhythmic, textural and structural clarity of Karl Böhm’s recordings are much admired across the world. This new release includes Böhm’s celebrated recordings of Mozart Serenades and the great orchestral works of Richard Strauss, as well as equally notable performances of Beethoven and Brahms symphonies. This 17 CD box with booklet includes including new liner notes by Berliner Philharmoniker intimus Helge Grünewald and rare Böhm photographs.
This luxuriously cast film of Mozart's beloved opera buffa features a host of legendary interpretations, including Kiri Te Kanawa's exquisite Countess Almaviva, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as her philandering husband, Hermann Prey as the wily title character, Mirella Freni, a delight as his no less savvy bride Susanna, and Maria Ewing, hilarious as the lovesick page Cherubino. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's imaginative camera-work tellingly emphasizes character and mood in this immortal story of love, intrigue and class struggle, set against the historical background of ancien regime Europe sliding inexorably towards revolution.
Götz Friedrich’s 1981 Elektra film sets Richard Strauss’ opera in a dark and dingy abandoned 20th-century factory populated by grungy denizens in psuedo-Greek garb. Elektra herself appears like some deranged homeless woman reeking with sweat and slime (in the rain). And the depravity doesn’t stop there. Friedrich plays up the work’s sado-masochistic elements, with bloody whippings and an orgy sequence involving nude lesbians bathing themselves in the blood of a sacrificial ram. Now you might think that all of this detracts from the score, but on the contrary, the production matches image to music so brilliantly that anyone seeing this opera for the first time would think they were created for each other (which allows you to ignore the occasional useless, almost silly gesture, such as the frequent and prolonged shots of Agamemnon’s bloodied visage during Elektra’s opening monologue).