Sergiu Celibidache

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Sergiu Celibidache
Sergiu Celibidache 1966.png
Born(1912-06-28)28 June 1912
Died14 August 1996(1996-08-14) (aged 84)
Education
Occupation
  • Conductor
  • Academic
Organization
Awards

Sergiu Celibidache (Romanian:  [ˈserdʒju tʃelibiˈdake] ; 11 July [ O.S. 28 June] 1912, Roman, Romania  14 August 1996, La Neuville-sur-Essonne, France) was a Romanian conductor, composer, musical theorist, and teacher. Educated in his native Romania, and later in Paris and Berlin, Celibidache's career in music spanned over five decades, including tenures as principal conductor for the Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and several European orchestras. Later in life, he taught at Mainz University in Germany and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

Roman, Romania Municipality in Neamț County, Romania

Roman is a city with the title of municipality located in the central part of Moldavia, a traditional region of Romania. It is located 46 km east of Piatra Neamț, in Neamț County at the confluence of the Siret and Moldova rivers.

La Neuville-sur-Essonne Commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

La Neuville-sur-Essonne is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.

Contents

Celibidache frequently refused to release his performances on commercial recordings during his lifetime, claiming that a listener could not obtain a "transcendental experience" outside the concert hall. Many of the recordings of his performances were released posthumously. He has nonetheless earned international acclaim for celebrated interpretations of the classical music repertoire and was known for a spirited performance style informed by his study and experiences in Zen Buddhism. He is regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century. [1] [2]

Classical music broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

A repertoire is a list or set of dramas, operas, musical compositions or roles which a company or person is prepared to perform.

Biography

Early life and education

Celibidache as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1946 Fotothek df pk 0000267 004.jpg
Celibidache as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1946

Sergiu Celibidache was born on 28 June 1912 [note 1] , as the son of Demostene Celibidache and Maria Celibidache, in Roman, a small city in the Moldavia region of Romania, where his father was a government official. [3] [4] He grew up in Iași, where his family soon moved after his birthday. [5] He was already improvising at the piano by the age of four, and after a traditional schooling in mathematics, philosophy and music in Iași, he was sent by his father to Bucharest and then to Paris where he continued his studies. His father had expected him to pursue a political career in Romania. [3] [5] However, Celibidache chose to enroll in the Hochschule für Musik (Academy of Music) in Berlin, Germany in 1936 where he studied composition under Heinz Tiessen and later conducting under Kurt Thomas, Walter Gmeindl and Fritz Stein. [3] [4] He continued with doctoral studies at the Friedrich Wilhelm University (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität) in Berlin where he studied philosophy with Nicolai Hartmann and Eduard Spranger and musicology with Arnold Schering and Georg Schünemann. [3] He submitted a dissertation on Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez (c. 1450–1521) and his work during the Renaissance. He received his degree in 1944. [3] [4] Throughout the 1940s, he accompanied and was romantically involved with Romanian-born dancer and choreographer Iris Barbura. During his studies in Berlin, Celibidache was introduced to Zen Buddhism through the influence of his teacher, Martin Steinke, and the tenets of Buddhism informed Celibidache's worldview and work for the rest of his life. [4] In a 1986 interview Celibidache said "I was born a Christian Orthodox, and studied philosophy, but I still couldn't find solutions to my problems. It was through Steinke that I found [...] the way of Zen. All I can say is that without Zen I couldn't have known this strange principle that the beginning is the end. Music in nothing but the materialization of this principle." [6]

Moldavia principality in Southeast Europe between 1330–1859 (nowadays historical and geographical region in Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine)

Moldavia is a historical region and former principality in Central and Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester River. An initially independent and later autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia as the basis of the modern Romanian state; at various times, Moldavia included the regions of Bessarabia, all of Bukovina and Hertza. The region of Pokuttya was also part of it for a period of time.

Iași County Seat in Romania

Iași, also referred to as Jassy or Iassy, is the second largest city in Romania, and the seat of Iași County. Located in the historical region of Moldavia, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859, then of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862, and the capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918.

Piano musical instrument

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

Career

Celibidache giving a conducting lesson at the Curtis Institute in 1984 to student David Bernard CelibidacheAtCurtis.jpg
Celibidache giving a conducting lesson at the Curtis Institute in 1984 to student David Bernard

Sergiu Celibidache studied in Berlin and, from 1945 to 1952, he was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Europe's most celebrated orchestra. He got his big break immediately after the war in tragic circumstances, as Leo Borchard, who had received clearance from the Americans to perform, was shot during a nocturnal car ride and no other "acceptable" (de-Nazified) conductors were available, so the job fell to Celibidache. [7] [6] However, he fought selflessly to have Furtwangler (who was a great influence on the young conductor) reinstated as orchestra leader, and from 1947 until 1952 the two shared the responsibilities of conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. [7] Celibidache later worked with radio orchestras in Stockholm, Stuttgart and Paris. He also worked in Britain in the late 1940s and 1950s, due partly to the promotional efforts of the pianist Eileen Joyce and her partner, an artists' agent. Joyce said that Celibidache was the greatest conductor she had ever worked with – "he was the only one who got inside my soul". [8] In 1970 he was awarded Denmark's Sonning Award. From 1979 until his death he was music director of the Munich Philharmonic. He regularly taught at Hochschule für Musik Mainz in Germany and in 1984 taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teaching was a major focus throughout his life and his courses were frequently open to all without fee. Among his notable students are Françoys Bernier, Jordi Mora, Peter Perret, Bernhard Sieberer, Markand Thakar, Konrad von Abel, [9] Nils-Göran Areskoug and Tom Zelle as well as The Danish Windquintet.[ citation needed ]

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Berlin Philharmonic orchestra based in Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Philharmonic is a German orchestra based in Berlin. It is traditionally ranked as being in the top handful of orchestras in the world, distinguished amongst peers for its virtuosic and compelling sound. The orchestra’s history has always been tied up with its chief conductors, many of whom have been authoritative and controversial characters, such as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan.

Leo Borchard German conductor

Lew Ljewitsch "Leo" Borchard was a German-Russian conductor and briefly musical director of the Berlin Philharmonic.

He appeared in the film Ambassadors of Music (1952) where he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in a complete performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Egmont overture.

Ambassadors of Music is a 1952 West German musical documentary film directed by Hermann Stöß.

Ludwig van Beethoven 18th and 19th-century German classical and romantic composer

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the classical and romantic eras in classical music, he remains one of the most recognized and influential musicians of this period, and is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time.

<i>Egmont</i> (Beethoven) incidental music composed by Ludwig van Beethoven for Johann Wolfgang von Goethes 1787 play

Egmont, Op. 84 by Ludwig van Beethoven, is a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It consists of an overture followed by a sequence of nine pieces for soprano, male narrator, and full symphony orchestra. Beethoven wrote it between October 1809 and June 1810, and it was premiered on 15 June 1810.

His later career was marred by controversy and accusations of sexism and discrimination that came to light during a 12-year legal battle during his tenure at the Munich Philharmonic [10] due to an ongoing issue with trombonist Abbie Conant.

Sexism prejudice or discrimination based on a persons sex or gender

Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex or gender. Sexism can affect anyone, but it systematically and primarily affects women and girls. It has been linked to stereotypes and gender roles, and may include the belief that one sex or gender is intrinsically superior to another. Extreme sexism may foster sexual harassment, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. Gender discrimination may encompass sexism, and is discrimination toward people based on their gender identity or their gender or sex differences. Gender discrimination is especially defined in terms of workplace inequality.

In human social behavior, discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction towards, a person based on the group, class, or category to which the person is perceived to belong. These include age, caste, colour, criminal record, height, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, generation, genetic characteristics, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Discrimination consists of treatment of an individual or group, based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, "in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated". It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction going on to influence the individual's actual behavior towards the group leader or the group, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on illogical or irrational decision making.

Munich Philharmonic orchestra

The Munich Philharmonic is a German symphony orchestra located in the city of Munich. It is one of Munich's four principal orchestras, along with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra. Since 1985, the orchestra has been housed in the Gasteig culture centre.

Personal life

In 1965, Celibidache married Ioana Procopie Dimitrescu. They had one son, Sergiu Ioan Celibidache ("Serge"), born 19 June 1968. [note 2]

Death

Celibidache died at the age of 84 on 14 August 1996 at La Neuville-sur-Essonne, near Paris. He was buried in the Cimetière de Neuville sur Essone.

Legacy

Bust of Sergiu Celibidache at his hometown in Roman Bust Celibidache.jpg
Bust of Sergiu Celibidache at his hometown in Roman

Performance style and criticism

Celibidache's approach to music-making is often described more by what he did not do instead of what he did. For example, much has been made of Celibidache's "refusal" to make recordings even though almost all of his concert activity actually was recorded with many released posthumously by major labels such as EMI and Deutsche Grammophon with the consent of his family. [11] Nevertheless, Celibidache paid little attention to making these recordings, which he viewed merely as by-products of his orchestral concerts.

Celibidache's focus was instead on creating, during each concert, the optimal conditions for what he called a "transcendent experience". Aspects of Zen Buddhism, such as ichi-go ichi-e , strongly influenced his thinking. He believed that transcendental experiences were extremely unlikely to ensue when listening to recorded music, so he eschewed them. As a result, some of his concerts did provide audiences with exceptional and sometimes life-altering experiences, including, for example, a 1984 concert in Carnegie Hall by the Orchestra of the Curtis Institute that New York Times critic John Rockwell touted as the best of his 25 years of concert-going. [12]

Celibidache was well known for his demands for extensive rehearsal time with orchestras. [13] An oft-mentioned feature of many of his concerts, captured in the live recordings of them, is a slower tempo than what is considered the norm, while, in fast passages, his tempi often exceeded expectations. [14] In Celibidache's own view, however, criticism of a recording's tempo is irrelevant, as it is not (and cannot be) a critique of the performance but rather of a transcription of it, without the ambience of the moment, for him, a key factor in any musical performance. As Celibidache explained, the acoustic space in which one hears a concert directly affects the likelihood of the emergence of his sought-after transcendent experience. The acoustic space within which one hears a recording of one of his performances, on the other hand, has no impact on the performance, as it is impossible for the acoustic features of that space to stimulate musicians to play slower or faster.

That his recorded performances differ so widely from the majority of other recordings has led them to be seen by some as collectors' items rather than mainstream releases, 'one-offs' rather than reference recordings. [15]

Discography

Notable releases have been his Munich performances of Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Robert Schumann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Gabriel Fauré and a series of live performances with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Honours and awards

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References

Notes
  1. The 28 June 1912 date of birth was based on the old style Julian calendar then officially used in Romania. According to the modern Gregorian calendar that is currently used in the West, Celibidache's birthdate would be 11 July 1912.
  2. In several sources, his son's name is rendered as Serge Ioan Celebidachi.
References
  1. "Sergiu Celibidache – das Wesen der Musik". Focus (in German). 26 June 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  2. "Der Stachel im Fleisch des Musikbetriebs". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). 4 July 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Naxos – Sergiu Celibidache (Biography) located online here (Retrieved 31 August 2012).
  4. 1 2 3 4 EMI Classics. Sergiu Celibidache (1912–1996): Biography. located online here (Retrieved 31 August 2012).
  5. 1 2 Biography
  6. 1 2 Lang, Klaus (2015). Celibidache şi Furtwängler : marele conflict postbelic de la Filarmonica din Berlin. Bucureşti: Humanitas. pp. 16, 23. ISBN   9789735048785. OCLC   967947126.
  7. 1 2 Celibidache, Serge Ioan (2001), Sergiu Celibidache's garden, Facets Video, ISBN   1565802829, OCLC   50094469
  8. Richard Davis, Eileen Joyce: A Portrait
  9. "Konrad von Abel". Musikproduktion Höflich. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  10. Buzzarté, Monique. "We Need a Man for Solo Trombone: Abbie Conant's Story." IAWM Journal. (International Alliance for Women in Music, February 1996), 8–11. Available online here Archived 29 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine . (Retrieved 20 October 2012).
  11. James R. Oestreich (15 March 1998). "The Reticent High Priest of Munich". New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  12. John Rockwell (28 February 1984). "Debut of Sergiu Celibidache". New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  13. Will Crutchfield (27 April 1989). "Sergiu Celibidache Conducts An Unhurried Bruckner 4th". New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  14. John Rockwell (29 August 1993). "When Mystic Meets Mystic". New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  15. "Conductor Sergiu Celibidache Biography". iClassics. Retrieved 17 August 2007.[ dead link ]
  16. Landeshauptstadt München Direktorium. Ehrenbürgerrecht der Landeshauptstadt München (Honorary Citizens of the Provincial Capital of Munich) located online here (Retrieved 1 September 2012).