Pierre-Jean Rémy

Karajan The Seven Lives Of A Conductor Publication date : January 10, 2008

Pierre-Jean Rémy, a member of the Académie Française, has written over fifty novels. A lover of opera, theatre and music, he is a regular contributor to specialised music journals such as Lyrica, Harmonie and Diapason and the author of several books on music-related subjects, including biographies of Maria Callas and Berlioz. In 1971, he was the recipient of the Renaudot Prize for Le Sac du Palais d'Eté, and, in 1986, he was awarded the Grand Prix for fiction by the Académie Française for his novel Une ville immortelle.

Few other orchestra conductors have performed and recorded so prolifically, or received such adulation from the media, as Herbert von Karajan: 800 recordings, dozens of films, and thousands of concerts, all performed with unparalleled mastery. He also served the cause of music as a pedagogue, director, impresario, producer and entrepreneur. For many years he ruled over European music as the director of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Opera and the Salzburg Festival.

Karajan was an accomplished sportsman: champion skier, skipper, and plane and automobile pilot. His personal life often made the headlines: for years he formed an almost legendary couple with his third wife, who was a Dior model.

Karajan's life of total dedication to music was not exempt from the upheavals of history. Pierre-Jean Rémy examines Karajan's relations with the German Nazis, beginning in 1933, and goes on to give us a detailed portrait of music under the Third Reich.

Rémy recounts the torment Karajan suffered at the end of his life: not only was he in great physical pain, he endured increasing attacks on his power, his fortune and his past.

• The author has had access to numerous sources; he has obtained interviews with many people who knew Karajan well, including his widow Eliette. Rémy has also had access to information provided by the Karajan Foundation, in Vienna, and the Herbert and Eliette Karajan Foundation, in Salzburg.

• The centenary of Herbert von Karajan's birth will be commemorated in 2008. Numerous events (including TV broadcasts) have been planned for the occasion.

• Pierre-Jean Rémy's biography of Karajan is the first in French. The ones already published in German or English are directed to a more specialised audience. This one targets general readers as well as music lovers who wish to know more about the conductor.

A truthful portrait of a major twentieth-century conductor!



I. A Conductor's Childhood

The Child

The Teenager

The Student

II. A Young Conductor

Apprenticeship in Ulm

Music and Politics

Bouncing Back at Aachen

A New Life at Aachen

Berlin: the Wunderkind

The War in Berlin and Other Places

Berlin: Disgrace

III. A Conductor Routed

Anxiety in Berlin


On Trial

A Friend in Need

IV. A Very Great Conductor

A Comeback

The Year of New Beginnings

One Step at a Time…

A Place Name: Bayreuth

A Woman's Name: Eliette

The Provençale from the House of Dior

A Couple

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

V. The World's Greatest Conductor

The King with Three Realms: Berlin

The King with Three Realms: Salzburg

The King with Three Realms: Vienna

Another Life

On All Fronts

The Recording Empire

From One End of the Earth to Another

The Family Man with Three Houses

The King in His Palace: Salzburg

Everywhere a King

The King in His Other Palace: Berlin

First Failures?

Bouncing Back Again

Salzburg or the Heart of the Empire

Cinema in the Empire

The Spell of Good Friday

An Austrian in Paris

VI. The Conductor in His Realm

Salzburg or the Real World

The Whole World

The Recording Universe

The Music Master

VII. The Conductor Is Hurt…

Two Injuries

Another World



Life Goes On

The Agony and the Ecstasy

A Birthday

The Final Year

Epilogue: Living On