Carlo Maria GiuliniBy ANTHONY TOMMASINI

Published: June 16, 2005

Carlo Maria Giulini, the esteemed Italian conductor, an idealistic maestro acclaimed for his refined and insightful accounts of the standard orchestral repertory and for several now classic recordings of operas by Mozart and Verdi, died on Tuesday in Brescia in northern Italy. He was 91 and lived in Bolzano, Italy.
His son Alberto Maria Giulini announced the death yesterday.

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. Handsome and impeccably tailored, he was a deeply spiritual musician. The former New York Times critic Donal Henahan once called him "San Carlo of the Symphony."

Through most of his career, Mr. Giulini resisted assuming full-time responsibility for an orchestra. He had little patience with administrative details and a distaste for the glad-handing typically required of a music director of a major institution. Needing frequent periods for reflection and study, he preferred guest-conducting associations.

He had a 23-year relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, starting in 1955 (his first American engagement). From 1969 to 1978 he was its principal guest conductor. He was also the principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra for three years during the 1970's.

In 1978 he became the principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Being a leading cultural figure in America's star-struck movie capital might have seemed a curious role for this discerning and reclusive Italian. He mostly restricted his commitment to 10 weeks per season, which brought criticism that he was not giving the full-time commitment the post demanded.

Still, he had splendid successes in Los Angeles, and might have remained there longer than six years had his wife, Marcella, not suffered a cerebral aneurysm in 1980, which impaired her movement and speech for some years and demanded his attention. (She died in 1995. Besides his son Alberto, an artist, Mr. Giulini is survived by two other sons: Francesco, who was his manager, and Stefano, a physician.)

Carlo Maria Giulini was born to well-to-do northern Italian parents in Barletta, a southern Italian town, on May 9, 1914. Raised in the Dolomites, in the Alps, he later enrolled as a student of the viola at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. His principal conducting teacher there was Bernardino Molinari.

At 19 he was hired as a violist in the Accademia's orchestra, which played in the acoustically vibrant Teatro Augusteo. There the impressionable Mr. Giulini worked with some colossal conductors of the day, including Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter.

During World War II, he was sent to the Yugoslavian front with the Italian Army. A bold opponent of Fascism, The Associated Press reported, he went underground and spent nine months hiding at the home of his young wife's uncle. When the Allies liberated Rome in 1944, Mr. Giulini made his conducting debut with the Augusteo orchestra, now renamed the Santa Cecilia Orchestra.

In 1950 in Bergamo he made his debut in staged opera, conducting Verdi's "Traviata," which he conducted again the next year with Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, no less, alternating the role of Violetta. Mr. Giulini would become a notable colleague of Callas's.

In Bergamo, Mr. Giulini came to the attention of Toscanini and, more significantly, Victor de Sabata, who immediately took Mr. Giulini to La Scala, where in 1953 he succeeded de Sabata as principal conductor.

Mr. Giulini attributed his ability to empower each musician in an orchestra into collective music-making to his own youthful experience playing the viola.

"I had the great privilege to be a member of an orchestra," Mr. Giulini said in a 1982 interview with The Times Magazine. "I still belong to the body of the orchestra. When I hear the phrase, 'The orchestra is an instrument,' I get mad. It's a group of human beings who play instruments."

Yet Mr. Giulini was never particularly articulate about how he achieved such remarkable music-making from orchestra players. In the same interview he explained that a musician needed more than technique, that you must do more than get things "right."
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"And only after this," he said, "comes this mysterious thing that is the life of the music."

Sometimes during rehearsals Mr. Giulini would deliver philosophical discourses about the music that would baffle his players. Once, at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, two weeks before the first rehearsal of Brahms's "German Requiem," Mr. Giulini placed copies of the text on the stands of the players so that they could contemplate the words.

To Mr. Giulini, pondering the sacred message of this requiem was essential to playing it with musical understanding. He never had an incisive or flashy technique. Yet if his cues were sometimes loose, his insights were always piercing, and his ear for nuance, texture and rhythmic subtleties was flawless.

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.

Still, some of his complete opera recordings are landmarks of the discography, including, on EMI Classics, a 1959 account of Mozart's "Nozze di Figaro" with Giuseppe Taddei in the title role, Anna Moffo as Susanna, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as the Countess, and the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus.

Mr. Giulini made careful choices in repertory, putting off conducting the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven until the 1960's. History may judge that his legacy was undermined by his scant involvement with contemporary music. Except for conducting operas like Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" and occasional premieres of works by composers like Boris Blacher, Gottfried von Einem and Ezra Laderman, Mr. Giulini was most comfortable, and at his greatest, giving freshly conceived and uncannily detailed accounts of great scores by the masters, from Bach through Brahms.

As Mr. Giulini matured, his tempos, always on the spacious side, grew even more so. Some critics sometimes found his work vague, sluggish, even prissy. Reviewing a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall in 1979, the Times critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that during much of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "this listener had the feeling that Mr. Giulini was equating slowness with profundity."

Still, at his best, Mr. Giulini made profundity seem exciting, in, for example, his magnificent 1971 EMI Classics recording of Verdi's most gravely beautiful opera, "Don Carlos," with Plácido Domingo in the title role and Mr. Giulini leading the forces of Covent Garden in London.

During his prime years, Mr. Giulini said that he found the public role of being a conductor uncomfortable and that ideally he would prefer to do no publicity at all. Maybe so. But in the 1982 Times Magazine article, Thomas Stevens, then the principal trumpeter of the Los Angles Philharmonic, suggested that Mr. Giulini enjoyed being a local icon more than he let on. He recalled driving on a freeway one day, when along came "this conductor-character Fellini couldn't have thought up - a big hat, sunglasses, the scarf, driving along in his Mercedes."


Italian Conductor Giulini Dies at 91
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


Published: June 15, 2005
Filed at 3:30 p.m. ET

ROME (AP) -- Carlo Maria Giulini, the 20th century giant of conducting who considered himself a reverential servant of the great composers, has died at age 91.

Giulini died Tuesday in Brescia in northern Italy, son Alberto Maria Giulini said Wednesday.

Giulini's last permanent post was music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, from 1978 until 1985, when he resigned to spend more time with his ailing wife. He also conducted at Milan's La Scala, the Chicago Symphony and the Vienna Symphony.

A young friend of the master Arturo Toscanini, who was impressed by one of his performances at the podium, Giulini spanned the golden age of conducting in the early decades of the 20th century and Italy's contemporary generation of maestros like Riccardo Muti and Claudio Abbado.

In later years, Giulini stuck close to his home in Milan, conducting Europe's great orchestras but renouncing opera productions because of the long rehearsals.

Giulini's profound respect for the masters often produced an almost religious quality in his work.

In a newspaper interview for his 80th birthday, Giulini said: ''I have to believe in every note, to feel myself immersed. If that doesn't happen, mere technique would take the field. The appropriation (of the music) must be rational and emotional, without ever forgetting that the conductor is a musician in the service of the geniuses of music. ... We are only interpreters.''

''Giulini perceived the mystery of the art and spread it around with his refined technique and with the enthusiasm of an uncontaminated love for music,'' Italian state television RAI said in a tribute to the conductor on its Wednesday evening news.

In the years just after World War II, Giulini conducted the RAI state broadcasting orchestras of Milan and Rome.

Giulini led the 1944 concert in Rome that celebrated the city's liberation by Allied forces. It was his conducting debut.

Giulini studied viola at Rome's Academy of Santa Cecilia. At 19, he won a viola position in the Santa Cecilia orchestra when it played in Rome's Teatro Augusteo. Because of the theater's spectacular acoustics, it was a regular stop for the superstar conductors. Giulini played under giants like Wilhelm Furtwangler, Bruno Walter, Willem Mengelberg and Richard Strauss.

His old viola teacher once told Giulini's father that the young musician would never be a conductor because his elbows were too weak. But Giulini received a conducting degree in 1941 at Santa Cecilia.

In his career, Giulini concentrated on Brahms, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner and Schubert. For opera he preferred Mozart, conducting little Puccini or Wagner.

A modest, nearly ascetic man, he saw conducting as a priestly mission, a ministry for the gods of classical music.

''We have to deal with genius, and we are small men,'' he once said.

In Los Angeles, where he said his only friend was the comedian Danny Kaye, his contract specifically exempted him from any part in the social whirl.

''I would underline that he was a servant of music, a man who did not worry about outward appearances,'' said Giorgio Gualerze, an Italian music critic. ''He was devoted to the cause of music, he did not let himself be distracted by anything else.''

Giulini worked with divas like Maria Callas, in ''La Traviata'' in 1956, and leading directors like Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli.

Gualerze said that Giulini's decision to concentrate on conducting orchestras after 1967 reflected his focused approach to his work, dropping opera where dealing with singers could be distraction.

As Giulini aged, his tempos became considerably more expansive.

''Opinion has been divided about his slow tempos, but there is widespread acknowledgment of the exceptional mellowness of his interpretations, the richness of string textures and the seriousness of purpose with which he inspires both instrumentalists and singers,'' Robert Philip wrote in Giulini's entry in Grove Music Online.

A number of Giulini's recordings, especially Verdi's ''Requiem'' and ''Falstaff,'' are treasured by music buffs, and many Mozart-lovers considered his ''Don Giovanni'' the best ever. Critics also gave Giulini high praise for his sensitive accompanying on concerto recordings.

Giulini's search for insight sometimes produced periods when he would stay away from the podium to find time to read, reflect and study.

''Music is an act of love,'' he would say, dismissing ambition. Career? ''The word is repugnant to me,'' he told an interviewer. ''I'm not like a corporal who has to become a captain.''

Born in Barletta, in the southeastern region of Puglia, on May 9, 1914, the conductor as a young man also studied violin.

During World War II, he went to the Yugoslav front with the Italian army. But he opposed Fascism and later went underground, hiding for nine months in a secret room in the house of his wife's uncle. A portrait of Mussolini hung on the wall outside.

The elderly Toscanini heard a Giulini performance and summoned him to his home. The two became friends, an important source of support for the budding young conductor.

In 1951, Giulini took over as principal conductor at Milan's La Scala opera house.

He recorded with major labels and won a Grammy in 1989.

Giulini's wife, Marcella, died in 1995. In addition to Alberto, an artist, they had two other sons: Francesco, who was his father's manager and Stefano, a physician.

A private funeral will be held Friday in the northern town of Bolzano.


‧[BBC] Conductor Giulini dies in Italy
‧[Guardian] Carlo Maria Giulini
‧Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor, born May 9 1914; died June 14 2005

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