24 March 2023

P.R. Jenkins

Karajan artists: Clara Haskil – mostly Mozart

“The soloist for that concert was the great pianist Clara Haskil, with whom Karajan had an extraordinary rapport; indeed, it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that he worshipped her.” Richard Osborne

Clara Haskil was one of the 20th century’s great Mozart pianists but she was also remarkable for her interpretations of Beethoven and Ravel. Like Dinu Lipatti and Radu Lupu, Haskil came from Romania. As a child she moved to Paris and impressed Fauré and Busoni with her playing. Her career was hindered by illness and two world wars but brought her international fame in the 1950s when she performed in solo recitals and with Arthur Grumiaux, Géza Anda or Karajan. After her death Charlie Chaplin – her neighbour in her final years in Switzerland – said he had met only three geniuses in his life: Einstein, Churchill and Clara Haskil.

“Whenever he conducted for her, he became totally self-effacing.”

Karajan and Haskil never met up in the studio but we have four recordings, two Mozart concertos (K. 466 and K. 488 with the Philharmonia Orchestra), Beethoven’s 4th concerto with the Vienna Symphony and Bach’s concerto for two pianos BWV 1061 with Géza Anda in Lucerne. “Karajan not only engaged her. He played piano duets with her, coaxed and cajoled her, and according to Gareth Morris, treated her in front of the orchestra as though she was the most beautiful woman he had ever encountered.”

We’ve prepared playlists with Karajan and Clara Haskil. Listen to them here.

Richard Osborne “Karajan. A Life in Music” Chatto & Windus, London. 1998

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