02 March 2023

P.R. Jenkins

Vienna Philharmonic interviews

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has always been one of the best in the world. Since its first concert in 1842 it was conducted by such artists as Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini, Wilhelm Furtwängler and – of course – Herbert von Karajan who made his very last recordings with this incomparable orchestra.

As everybody knows, Karajan was very fond of modern technology. During his “Carmen” film recording in 1967 he was standing in the middle of a mess of cameras, microphones and cables and said to the Vienna Philharmonics: “Some day, all this stuff will be redundant. We will have invisible cameras. Imagine, suddenly you see a man standing in the room…” The violinist Nessizius interrupted him: “This is something any good doctor can cure!”

We are proud and happy to present a series of exclusive interviews our colleague Pia Bernauer made with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. There are very interesting thoughts about modern orchestra playing and many memories by musicians who worked with Karajan in legendary performances.

All interviews are in German with English subtitles.

Peter Wächter

Violinist Peter Wächter is member of the Vienna Philharmonic since the early 1960s. He talks to Pia Bernauer about Karajan’s ability to create a special sound through his gestures, his faith in musicians and nailed shoes on a human breast. Watch here.


Rainer Küchl

Violinist Rainer Küchl was leader of the Vienna Philharmonic for many years and hundreds of concerts. Being in retirement now he speaks to Pia Bernauer about Karajan’s empathy, the best Verdi recordings and a painful wisdom tooth. Watch here.


Clemens Hellsberg

Clemens Hellsberg was member of the Vienna Philharmonic from 1980 to his retirement 2016. From 1997 to 2014 he was chairman and in this position he announced the New Year’s greetings at the final of many New Year’s Concerts of the VPO. Watch here.


Michael Werba

Professor Michael Werba is principal bassoonist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and member of the orchestra since 1977. He is the son of Erik Werba, a legendary pianist especially for Lied and an important composer. Michael Werba talks to Pia Bernauer about several Karajan concerts and recordings here.


Daniel Froschauer

First guest in our series with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was Chairman Daniel Froschauer who is member of the VPO since 1998. Watch here.


Helmut Zehetner

“Karajan was a jovial person”

Helmut Zehetner, leader of the second violins, talks to Pia Bernauer about his memories of Karajan (including a red violin…). Watch here.


Josef Hell

Josef Hell is principal violinist of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, which is connected with the Vienna Philharmonic. Hell said about Karajan he “knew to read between the lines. He achieved that through hard work and discipline.” Watch here.


Peter Schmidl

Peter Schmidl has been a member of the orchestra since 1965 and was its principal clarinettist for many years. Watch him talking about his time with the Vienna AND the Berlin Philharmonic, Karajan’s diplomacy and Karajan as a chief forester here in a wonderfully rich 40-minute-interview.


Dieter Flury

Dieter Flury, former principal flutist explains Pia Bernauer among other things how seven bars can change the intensity of a whole opera and how a conductor uses left and right hand of his violin players. And he tells us about Carlos Kleiber’s “Elektra”(!) Watch here.


Werner Resel

Werner Resel, cellist and former chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic, talks to Pia Bernauer about Karajan’s physical pain in his last years, the relation between Karajan and Wieland Wagner and his favourite Karajan recording. Watch here!


Michael Bladerer

Double bass player Michael Bladerer joined the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and later the Vienna Philharmonic after having played as a substitute under Karajan’s baton in his last performance in 1989. Today, he is also managing director of the orchestra. Watch here.

after “Musizieren geht übers Probieren”. Paul Neff Verlag. Wien 1967

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