Music: Unvarnished Symphonies

Conductor Carlos Kleiber makes old works sound fresh

His concentration is so intense that when conducting Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at La Scala, he never noticed the earthquake that rattled the giant chandelier. He suffers from such crippling stage fright that he vomited onto the score of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde during a performance in Stuttgart. He is such a perfectionist that he demanded, and got, 34 rehearsals for Berg's Wozzeck in Munich. He is so much the misanthrope that he can terrify performers; "I like it very much," he once told a blushing...

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