Carlo Maria Giulini

Last updated
Carlo Maria Giulini
Born(1914-05-09)9 May 1914
Died14 June 2005(2005-06-14) (aged 91)
Brescia, Italy
Occupation Conductor
Years active1944–1998
(54 years)

Carlo Maria Giulini, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (Italian pronunciation:  [ˈkarlo maˈriːa dʒuˈliːni] ; 9 May 1914 – 14 June 2005) was an Italian conductor. From the age of five, when he began to play the violin, Giulini’s musical education was expanded when he began to study at Italy's foremost conservatory, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome at the age of 16. Initially, he studied the viola and conducting; then, following an audition, he won a place in the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Italian order of knighthood

The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi in 1951. The highest ranking honour of the Republic, it is awarded for "merit acquired by the nation" in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers. The post-nominal letters for the order are OMRI. The order effectively replaced national orders such as the Civil Order of Savoy (1831), the Order of the Crown of Italy (1868), the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (1572) and the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (1362).

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia university

The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world, founded by the papal bull Ratione congruit, issued by Sixtus V in 1585, which invoked two saints prominent in Western musical history: Gregory the Great, for whom the Gregorian chant is named, and Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Since 2005 it has been headquartered at the Renzo Piano designed Parco della Musica in Rome.


Although he won a conducting competition two years later, he was unable to take advantage of the prize, which was the opportunity to conduct, because of being forced to join the army during World War II, albeit that he was a pacifist. As the war was ending, he hid until the liberation to avoid continuing to fight alongside the Germans. While in hiding, he married his girlfriend, Marcella, and they remained together until her death in 1995. Together, they had three children. [1]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

After the 1944 liberation, he was invited to lead what was then known as the Augusteo Orchestra (now the Santa Cecilia Orchestra) [2] in its first post-Fascist concert, and quickly other conducting opportunities came along. These included some of the world's major orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic. His career spanned 54 years with retirement coming in 1998. He died in Brescia, Italy, at 91 years of age.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra American symphony orchestra in Chicago, IL

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891. The ensemble makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival. The music director is Riccardo Muti, who began his tenure in 2010. The CSO is one of five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five".

Philharmonia Orchestra British Orchestra based in London

The Philharmonia Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It was founded in 1945 by Walter Legge, a classical music record producer for EMI. Among the conductors who worked with the orchestra in its early years were Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Arturo Toscanini; of the Philharmonia's younger conductors, the most important to its development was Herbert von Karajan, who though never formally chief conductor was closely associated with the orchestra in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Philharmonia became widely regarded as the finest of London's five symphony orchestras in its first two decades.

Vienna Philharmonic symphonic orchestra

The Vienna Philharmonic, founded in 1842, is an orchestra considered to be one of the finest in the world.

Early life

Giulini was born in Barletta, Kingdom of Italy, to a father from Lombardy and a mother from Naples; but he was raised in Bolzano, which at the time of his birth was part of Austria (it was given to Italy in the Treaty of London (1915)). Therefore, most of the neighbors spoke a dialect of German, and the local music he heard tended to be Austrian/Tyrolean. He recalled being transfixed by the town band. [3]

Barletta Comune in Apulia, Italy

Barletta is a city, comune and capoluogo together with Andria and Trani of Apulia, in south eastern Italy. Barletta is also a provincia (Barletta-Andria-Trani) and its population is around 94.700 citizens.

Kingdom of Italy kingdom on the Appenine Peninsula between 1861 and 1946

The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when a constitutional referendum led civil discontent to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Lombardy Region of Italy

Lombardy is one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy, in the northwest of the country, with an area of 23,844 square kilometres (9,206 sq mi). About 10 million people, forming one-sixth of Italy's population, live in Lombardy and about a fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest regions in Europe. Milan, Lombardy's capital, is the second-largest city and the largest metropolitan area in Italy.

For Christmas in 1919, when he was five, Giulini was given a violin and he progressed rapidly with local instructors, notably a Bohemian violinist (and local pharmacist) whom he called "Brahms." [4] In 1928, the distinguished Italian violinist/composer Remy Principe (1889–1977) gave a recital in Bolzano, and auditioned Giulini; he invited Giulini to study with him at Italy's foremost conservatory, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Giulini undertook his studies there two years later, at the age of 16. He studied viola with Principe, composition with Alessandro Bustini (1876–1970), and conducting with Bernardino Molinari. [5]

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Viola bowed string instrument

The viola (; Italian pronunciation: [ˈvjɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

Bernardino Molinari Italian conductor

Bernardino Molinari was an Italian conductor.

At the age of 18, in order to supplement his family's income (which had been depleted by the Great Depression), he auditioned for the viola section of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, at the time Italy's foremost orchestra. He recalled crying for joy when informed that he had won the audition and would be the orchestra's last-desk violist. [6]

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Orchestra dellAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia symphonic orchestra

The Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is an Italian symphony orchestra based in Rome. Resident at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the orchestra primarily performs its Rome concerts in the Auditorium's Sala Santa Cecilia.

Among the guest conductors he played under were Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, Victor de Sabata, Fritz Reiner, Pierre Monteux, Igor Stravinsky, and Otto Klemperer. His first public performance was the First Symphony of Brahms under Walter. Giulini told interviewers that he detested the dictatorial, often demeaning manner of Molinari, the orchestra's music director, but loved the gentle manner of Bruno Walter, who he said had a gift for making every musician feel important.[ citation needed ]


Marcella de Girolami and Carlo Maria Giulini in the Netherlands in 1965 Marcella de Girolami and Carlo Maria Giulini 1965.jpg
Marcella de Girolami and Carlo Maria Giulini in the Netherlands in 1965

In 1940, Giulini won a conducting competition, whose prize was the chance to conduct the St. Cecilia orchestra, but before the concert, Giulini was drafted into the Italian army, made a second lieutenant, and sent to the front in Croatia. However, because of his commitment to pacifism and intense opposition to fascism and to Benito Mussolini, he did not fire his gun at human targets.

In 1942, on a 30-day break in Rome, he married Marcella de Girolami (1921–1995), his girlfriend since 1938; they remained together until her death 53 years later. In September 1943, the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces was signed, but the Nazi occupation refused to abandon Rome, and Giulini's Italian commander ordered his troops to fight with the Nazis. Giulini chose instead to go into hiding, living for nine months in a tunnel underneath a home owned by his wife's uncle, along with two friends and a Jewish family which was avoiding Nazi arrest and deportation. Posters around Rome with his face and name instructed that he be shot on sight. [7]

After the Allies liberated Rome on 4 June 1944, Giulini—who was among the few conductors not tainted by associations with Fascism—was chosen to lead the Accademia's first post-Fascist concert, held on 16 July 1944. [2] On the program was the Brahms Symphony No. 4, which he had studied while in hiding. It became the work he conducted most frequently over the course of his career, with a total of 180 performances. [8]

Giulini began working with the Chamber Orchestra of Rome in 1944, and was made its music director in 1946. Also in 1944 he became assistant conductor of the RAI (Italian Radio) Orchestra in Rome, becoming its principal conductor in 1946. Four years later he was involved in the founding of the Milan Radio Orchestra, working with them from 1946 to 1954, as well as with the RAI's Rome orchestra. [1] [9]

Giulini and conducting opera

Although Giulini conducted La traviata for Italian radio in 1948, [1] he conducted his first staged opera in 1950 in Bergamo. It was La traviata and he returned the following year, this time with Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi alternating in the role of Violetta. [2] Also, he revived several obscure operas, including works by Alessandro Scarlatti. His work in Bergamo came to the attention of Arturo Toscanini, who asked to meet the young conductor, and the two men formed a deep bond. Toscanini recommended Giulini for the musical directorship at La Scala; Giulini had also won the attention and support of Victor de Sabata, the principal conductor of La Scala, who engaged him as his assistant. Giulini conducted his first opera at La Scala, Falla's La vida breve , in February 1952 [5] and succeeded De Sabata as its music director in 1953 after a heart attack caused the older man to leave the position.[ citation needed ]

In his five years in the position, Giulini conducted 13 productions, which included:

three marking the operatic debut of the producer Franco Zeffirelli, L'Italiana in Algeri , La Cenerentola and L'elisir d'amore ; and Gluck's Alceste and a La traviata with Maria Callas, the latter in a superb production by Luchino Visconti. It was at this period that Giulini was first able to work with colleagues who shared his views about the relationship of music and the stage in opera, and the results were spectacular: the Traviata, originally scheduled for four performances in 1955, had to be allotted another 17 in the following season. [5]

Though highly admired, he resigned after members of the audience jeered Maria Callas during a run of operas from 16 February to 27 April 1956.

His UK debut took place at the 1955 Edinburgh Festival conducting Verdi's Falstaff for the Glyndebourne Opera company when it toured to that city. [1]

In 1958, Giulini conducted a highly acclaimed production of Verdi's Don Carlos at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (directed by Visconti), [1] where it was also noted that "what emerged under Giulini's baton was a consistent, convincing masterpiece of astonishing power and lyrical tension." [5] Although he returned to Covent Garden in 1957, where he conducted a Visconti/Callas Traviata, it became clear that, after two more Covent Garden performances in 1961 and 1964 (the famous black-and-white Il trovatore ) and another at the Holland Festival in 1965, where he disagreed so strongly with the visual treatment of The Marriage of Figaro on the stage that he refused to conduct, and only concert performances were given, [5] Giulini would abandon opera, not wanting to compromise his artistic vision. Almost without exception from then on, he concentrated on orchestral works.

As illustrated, his relationships with opera managements were not always of the best: The Telegraph reported that "he rebelled against the decor and production of a Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh Festival, conducting it with a minimum of scenery; and in 1968, after a production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro in Rome, he became so disenchanted with the management of opera that he was not seen in an opera house for 14 years." [1]

The New York Times summed up Giulini's approach to working in the area of operas as follows:

By the late 1960's, Mr. Giulini had grown disheartened with working in opera houses, where he said he had to contend with insufficient rehearsal time, musically obtuse directors and too many singers interested more in jet-setting international careers than in substantive work. He restricted his appearances, and even the Metropolitan Opera was never able to engage him. [2]

Giulini as orchestra conductor

Giulini expanded his repertoire at a careful pace, not conducting the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven until the 1960s. [10] During the 1960s, he was in great demand as a guest conductor of leading orchestras around the world, and made numerous well-received recordings with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and several others.

In 1955 he had made his American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, leading to a 23-year association with the orchestra; he was its Principal Guest Conductor from 1969 to 1972, although he continued to appear with them regularly until 18 March 1978. In 1956, he began his association with the Philharmonia of London and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In addition to his role in Chicago, he was music director of the Vienna Symphony from 1973 to 1976. From 1978 to 1984, he served as principal conductor and Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, launching his tenure there with performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. In 1982 he returned once more to opera, conducting a widely acclaimed production of Verdi's Falstaff with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Overall, his impact on the musical world of the mid-to-late 20th century is summed up by Anthony Tommasini in his New York Times obituary of 2005:

Far from being an autocratic conductor or a kinetic dynamo of the podium, Mr. Giulini was a probing musician who achieved results by projecting serene authority and providing a model of selfless devotion to the score. His symphonic performances were at once magisterial and urgent, full of surprise yet utterly natural. He brought breadth and telling detail to the operas of Mozart and Verdi. [2]

Notable recordings

Giulini's most notable opera recordings include the 1959 Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus versions of Mozart's operas The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni for EMI, as well as his live 1955 recording of Verdi's La traviata with Maria Callas. He also made recordings of Verdi's Requiem and the Four Sacred Pieces , which were highly praised.

Admired orchestral records include Debussy's La mer and Nocturnes , Dvořák's 9th Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition , Brahms's 4th Symphony and Mahler's 1st and 9th symphonies with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven's 3rd and 5th Symphonies, and Schumann's 3rd Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Brahms's four Symphonies, Bruckner's 7th, 8th and 9th symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic, and Dvořák's 7th and 9th Symphonies with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. Most of these discs were recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon label. His live recording of Britten's War Requiem made in the Royal Albert Hall in 1969 which is available as a BBC Legends recording was a Gramophone Award winner.

Awards and recognitions

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Carlo Maria Giulini" (Obituary), The Telegraph (London), 16 June 2005. (Retrieved 23 February 2014)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Anthony Tommasini,"Carlo Maria Giulini, Master Italian Conductor, Dies at 91", The New York Times, 16 June 2005; retrieved 23 February 2014
  3. Saler 2010, p. ?
  4. Saler 2010, p. 2
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Carlo Maria Giulini: Italian conductor who brought spiritual intensity to religious works and perfectionism to opera", The Guardian (London), 15 June 2005; retrieved 23 February 2014.
  6. Saler 2010, p. 5
  7. Saler 2010, pp. 9–12
  8. Saler 2010, p. 122
  9. "1949–1959": Recordings made during this period on (in French). Retrieved 23 February 2014
  10. Robert Philip. "Giulini, Carlo Maria". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online . Oxford University Press.(subscription required)
  11. "1981 Gramophone Awards". on
  12. "Honours, Royal Academy of Music, London". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
Further reading
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Victor de Sabata
Musical Directors, La Scala, Milan
Succeeded by
Guido Cantelli