Carlos Kleiber

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The Independent Online

Your obituary of Carlos Kleiber [by Elizabeth Forbes, 21 July] carried no reference to his work as an orchestral conductor, writes Humphrey Burton.

Your obituary of Carlos Kleiber [by Elizabeth Forbes, 21 July] carried no reference to his work as an orchestral conductor, writes Humphrey Burton.

As with opera, his concert repertoire was small but what he did was done with superb flair and originality. I filmed him rehearsing the Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Fourth and Seventh Symphonies of Beethoven and we all marvelled at the insights he brought to the music, and the colourful, imaginative comparisons he employed to stimulate and challenge his musicians. "Surprise me," he would say, when a musical phrase was being tossed from one instrument to another. "Don't just copy what the last man did!"

I vividly remember the telecast from Vienna of Bizet's Carmen. It was Zeffirelli's production and he took charge of the cameras for the relay. Imagine our surprise and delight when shots of Kleiber started to appear during the action. Like the rest of us, Zeffirelli found his body language when conducting absolutely fascinating and he couldn't resist showing him to the world, however incongruous it might seem to have a conductor popping up at the bar of Lillas Pastia.

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