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Celibidache, Sergiu

Celibidache, Sergiu

Celibidache, Sergiu, transcendently endowed Romanian conductor; b. Roman, June 28, 1912. He studied at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, where his teachers included Kurt Thomas, Heinz Thiessen, Fritz Stein, and Heinz Gmeindl; he also took courses in musicology with Schering and Schünemann at the Univ. of Berlin. In 1945 he was appointed conductor of the Berlin Phil. as successor to Furtwàngler; he continued in that capacity until Furtwàngler formally resumed his position in 1952. After engagements as a guest conductor throughout Europe, he was chief conductor of the Swedish Radio Sym. Orch. in Stockholm (1964–71), the Stuttgart Radio Sym. Orch. (1971–77), and the Orch. National de France in Paris (1973–75). In 1979 he became Generalmusikdirektor of the Munich Phil. He also went to the U.S., where he was engaged as conductor of the student orch. at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia (1983–84). So remarkable was his progress with this student group that he was engaged to make a formal U.S. debut as a conductor with it at Carnegie Hall in N.Y. on Feb. 27, 1984, at which he astonished the audience and the critics with his mastery of a diversified program of works by Rossini, Wagner, Debussy, and Prokofiev. In 1989 he took the Munich Phil, on an 11–city tour of the U.S., winning extraordinary acclaim. A cosmopolitan existentialist, Celibidache lectured on musical phenomenology at the Univ. of Mainz; he also composed in his leisure time, producing four syms., a Piano Concerto, and a variety of minor pieces. In spite of his cult-like following, however, Celibidache’s career remained a singular one. After leaving his Berlin post, his appointments and guest engagements were confined to orchs. of the second rank due to his exorbitant demand for unlimited rehearsal time. He also disdained commercial recordings so that his performances were preserved only with thanks to the radio stations which taped his concerts throughout his career. In 1988 he relented and allowed video discs to be made of several of his performances.


K. Weiler, C: Musiker und Philosoph (Munich, 1993); K. Umbach, C., der andere Maestro: Biogjraphische Reportagen (Munich, 1995); V. Cosma, S. C: Concertul de adió: Schifi biografica, repertoriu §i antologie de texte (Bucharest, 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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