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Admirers Say Music World Loses a Giant With AM-Obit-Karajan, Bjt

July 17, 1989

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ Musicians and fans around the world mourned the death Sunday of conductor Herbert von Karajan, and even a critic who denounced the maestro’s membership in the Nazi Party had some kind words.

Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky said the music world had lost ″one of its very greatest.″

American singer Jessye Norman, in Paris for bicentennial celebrations, said in a statement: ″Herbert von Karajan always rolled out a magic carpet for us, the singers. It was enough for us to take our place, and with him, our musical work took on another dimension.″

In West Berlin, where Karajan led the Berlin Philharmonic for 34 years, Mayor Walter Momper said his death Sunday left behind ″sadness and the wish to be able hear him make music again.″

He said the celebrated conductor had been ″Berlin’s musical ambassador around the world.″

Greek virtuoso pianist Dimitris Sgouros said: ″I express my sincere sorrow for the loss of one of the greatest maestros and musical geniuses of our century.

″We first worked together on Brahms’ Second Concerto in 1982 and cooperated almost annually since, in concert and on records. He was indeed a great maestro.″

American conductor Erich Leinsdorf, referring to Karajan’s career conducting the Berlin Philharmonic and his departure in April, said:

″I’m very, very sorry. I think he must have died from the frustration of his recent experiences. He died a psychological death.″

Karajan died three months after leaving the Berlin Philharmonic amid differences over his contract.

He cited health reasons when he resigned. Karajan had long been ill, and serious back pain made it difficult for him to walk unaided to the podium.

Leinsdorf, who first met Karajan in 1930 when he took a class taught by the conductor in Salzburg, Austria, recalled Karajan as a man who was ″very proud″ of his years with the Berlin orchestra.

Horst Koepke, a music writer for the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper in Frankfurt, praised Karajan for his ability to ″prepare an orchestral work so that it pleases not just a small circle″ of knowledgeable people.

But Koepke, often a critic of the conductor, pointed to what he said was a darker side of Karajan.

He suggested Karajan joined the Nazi Party during Hitler’s reign in Germany to further his career.

Karajan was ″aware of his capabilities very early ... and was determined to make a career,″ Koepke wrote in a Monday newspaper commentary sent by facsimile machine in advance to the AP.

Karajan himself once acknowledged he joined the Nazi Party to avoid jeopardizing his career, but he said he had no political sympathy for the Nazis.

Koepke also criticized Karajan for his choice of music, saying he usually offered a ″very limited″ concert program.

″Always Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner and Richard Strauss, and also sometimes Johann Strauss,″ Koepke said.

West German music critics have long been sharply divided in their views of Karajan.

Many say he deserved his worldwide fame. But others have been disturbed by his membership in the Nazi Party and his thirst for publicity.

″He was a great musician and a great music teacher,″ Wolf von Lewinski, a respected music critic who knew Karajan, told The Associated Press from his home in Ludwigshafen.

″He was a brilliant conductor with a special sense for tone,″ Lewinski said.

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