"Prelude to Act III" Tristan und Isolde
Daniel Barenboim (b. 1942)

Daniel Barenboim was born in Argentina to Russian-Jewish parents. He started piano lessons at the age of five, and when he was only seven years old, he gave his first formal concert in Buenos Aires. In 1952, the Barenboim family moved to Israel. Two years later, in the summer of 1954, his parents brought him to Salzburg to take part in conducting classes. During that summer he met and played for Wilhelm Furtwängler. In 1955 he studied harmony with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He made his debut as a pianist in 1952 and his first recordings in 1954. In 1967 he made his debut as a conductor. His Bayreuth debut occurred in 1981, and he has conducted at the Festival up to 1999. Barenboim is currently the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he took up in 1991, following Sir Georg Solti. He is also music director of the Berlin State Opera, a position he has held since 1992. On July 7, 2001, Barenboim led the Berlin Staatskapelle in part of Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. The concert sparked an outcry, with Barenboim being branded as a fascist by some Israelis. Wagner's music has been taboo in Israel, because Adolf Hitler's theories of racial purity and extermination of Jews drew partly from Wagner's anti-Semitic writings. Barenboim said he had decided to defy the taboo on Wagner when at a news conference he was interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone to the tune of Wagner's ''Ride of the Valkyries''. "I thought if it can be heard on the ring of a telephone, why can't it be played in a concert hall?" he explained.

"Prelude to Act II" Tristan und Isolde
Karl Böhm (1894-1981)
Karl Böhm studied law before he entered the Graz Conservatory, and then the Vienna Conservatory, where he studied under Eusebius Mandyczewski, a good friend of Johannes Brahms. In 1917 he became a rehearsal assistant in Graz, in 1919 the assistant director of music and in 1920 the senior director of music. In 1927 he was appointed as musical director in Darmstadt. From 1931 to 1934 he fulfilled the same function at the Hamburg Opera. In 1933, he conducted in Vienna for the first time, a performance of Tristan und Isolde. He succeeded Fritz Busch, who had gone into exile, as the head of the Dresden Opera. He held this post from 1934 to 1942. This was an important period for maestro Böhm, in which he conducted first performances of works by Richard Strauss. He made his debut at Bayreuth after the war, in 1962 with a performance of Tristan und Isolde, which he conducted until 1970. In 1964 he conducted Die Meistersinger in Bayreuth; and from 1965 to 1967 he conducted the last production of the Ring directed by Wieland Wagner. In 1971 he returned to Bayreuth this time to conduct Der Fliegende Höllander. One of the great recordings of Tristan und Isolde is of one of his live Bayreuth performances from 1966, featuring the dream cast of Birgit Nilsson, Wolfgang Windgassen, and Christa Ludwig. Dr. Böhm received numerous honors throughout his life, among them was becoming the first Austrian Generalmusikdirektor, an honor which was bestowed on him in 1964.
"Prelude to Act I" Parsifal
Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
Pierre Boulez was born in Montbrison, France. He initially studied mathematics at Lyon before pursuing music at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen and Andrée Vaurabourg. He went on to write atonal music in a post-Anton Webern serialism style greatly influenced by Messiaen. In his unique style, Boulez began serialising not only the pitches of notes, but also the durations, dynamics, accents, and so on. He became one of the most outspoken philosophical leaders of the post-war movement in the arts towards greater abstraction and experimentation. As a conductor, Boulez is noted for his perceptive readings of ground breaking works from the first half of the 20th century. He excells, for example, in the works of Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók and Edgar Varèse. He served as the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1971-1977. At Bayreuth he has had a distinguished, and at times controversial career conducting Wagner's operas. in 1970 he was invited to conduct Parsifal at the Festspielhaus, and the success of that production led Wolfgang Wagner to select him to be the conductor of the centennial Ring directed by Patrice Chereau. That production, though one of the greatest ever seen at the Festival, was marred by violent controversy and harsh criticism. In the summer of 2004, Boulez was invited back to Bayreuth to conduct Parsifal. This production, conceived by Christoph Schlingensief, was one of the most controversial events ever presented at Bayreuth, and Boulez was there, once again, in the middle of it.
"Prelude to Act II" Die Walküre
Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954)

Wilhelm Furtwängler, the son of the archaeologist Adolf Furtwängler, spent his youth in Munich, where his father lectured at the university. His musical education was provided by Anton Beer-Waldbrunn and Joseph Rheinberger. In 1920, he took over the directorship of the symphony concerts of the Berlin Opera from Richard Strauss. Within two years he gained such renown that he was appointed director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1928 he succeeded Felix Weingartner as the director of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, but refused to take on the directorship of the opera at the same time. In 1931 he became the joint musical director of the Bayreuth Festival on an equal footing with Arturo Toscanini. His practice of hiring numerous Jewish artists was strongly criticised by the National Socialist regime. He received invitations from all over the world to conduct symphony concerts and operas as a guest conductor, mainly for the works of Richard Wagner. Philadelphia, New York and Vienna offered him the directorship of their opera houses, but Furtwängler refused because he did not want to leave Germany. In 1936, the New York Philharmonic offered him the opportunity to succeed Arturo Toscanini. This offer tempted him to go into exile, but in a mysterious report from the Berlin branch of the Associated Press it was alleged that Furtwängler was willing to be reinstated as the director of the Berlin Opera. This incorrect report triggered an angry reaction against the conductor in New York, and he decided not to take the New York position. In the same year, he again conducted in Bayreuth for the first time since 1931. He conducted there again in 1937, 1943 and 1944. Not until December 1946 was he cleared of all allegations of collaborating with the National Socialists. At the reopening of the Bayreuth festival, Wieland Wagner invited him to conduct a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

"Overture" Tannhäuser
Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989)
Herbert von Karajan was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1908. His father, Dr. Ernst von Karajan, was physician and surgeon at what is now the Salzburg Provincial Hospital. He was raised in a cultivated musical environment. At the age of four he started taking piano lessons with Franz Ledwinka, and in 1916 he enrolled at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Salzburg before entering the Vienna Music Academy in 1926. He made his conducting debut in 1928 and became chief conductor in Ulm, Germany before moving on to the larger city of Aachen in 1935, where he was appointed Germany's youngest general music director. He made his debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1937 and at the Berlin State Opera in 1938. He was one of the conductors chosen by Wieland Wagner to reopen the Bayreuth Festival in 1951. In 1955 he was appointed music director for life of the Berlin Philharmonic, which he turned into one of the best orchestra in the world. Simultaneously at the helm of the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival and the Berlin Philharmonic, and closely connected to the Vienna Symphony, London's Philharmonia Orchestra (which had been created especially for him) and Milan's La Scala, Karajan became known as the "General Music Director of Europe" His production of the Ring for the Salzburg festival (a similar production was also mounted at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City) owed much to Wieland Wagner's visual style. Herbery von Karajan towered over European musical life as very few had done before. He died in Salzburg on July 16, 1989.
"Prelude to Act II" Götterdämmerung
Hans Knappertsbusch (1888-1965)
Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned and beloved conductors of the middle twentieth century. Although he grew up playing and loving music, his parents objected to the notion of a musical career. Thus Knappertsbusch studied philosophy at Bonn University. In 1908, however, he entered the Cologne Conservatory and took conducting courses with Fritz Steinbach. Knappertsbusch began his career as a staff conductor at the Mülheim-Ruhr Theater (1910-12) and then as opera director in his home town of Elberfeld. Equally important to his development were his forays into the music of Wagner. He spent several summers as an assistant to director Siegfried Wagner and conductor Hans Richter at the Bayreuth Festival. During the Nazi years he refused several demands made by the Nazis and was fired from his lifetime post in 1936. He conducted a memorable Salome in Covent Garden in 1936 and 1937, and made some guest appearances elsewhere in Germany, but was content to maintain a low profile during the Nazi regime. Knappertsbusch gained a reputation for broad, magisteral performances, and became famous for his unhurried readings of Wagner's scores. He was famous for disliking rehearsals, often cutting them short. When the Bayreuth Festival reopened in 1951, Knappertsbusch worked closely with Wieland Wagner on orchestral matters (though the conductor was known to dislike the director's spare, revolutionary stage productions). Perhaps Knappertsbusch's most notable recording is his stereo account of Parsifal from the Bayreuth stage.
"Prelude to Act III" Lohengrin
James Levine (b. 1943)
James Levine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in a cultured, musical family. He studied piano in childhood and was a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony at the age of ten. After studies in piano and conducting at the Juilliard School, Levine became assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. He made his opera debut conducting Giacomo Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in 1971. Two years later he became the house's principal conductor and in 1976 its music director. In that position he has built the Metropolitan Opera orchestra into one of the finest ensembles in the world. His performances of Wagner's works at the MET are legendary, and his readings of Parsifal have become truly memorable experiences, not just at the MET, but worldwide. At the Bayreuth Festival he conducted Parsifal annually between his 1982 debut there (conducting the centennial production of the work) and 1993, and from 1994 until 1998 he conducted the Ring in a controversial staging by Alfred Kirchner. To an already exhaustingly busy schedule, James Levine has added the leadership of one of America's great orchestras. In the 2004-2005 season he became the Musical Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, while maintaining his post of Musical director at the MET. Unfortunately, recent serious illness has forced him to abandon his post in Boston. In addition, Levine stepped down as the Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera at the end of the 2015-2016 season to assume the new position of Music Director Emeritus.
"Prelude to Act I" Die Meistersinger
Fritz Reiner (1888-1963)
Fritz Reiner was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1888 and studied at the Royal Hungarian Academy that has produced many outstanding conductors and musicians including Reiner, Bartok, Kodaly, Dohnanyi, Szell, Ormandy, Solti and Dorati. He also graduated with a law degree from the University of Budapest. At the age of twenty one he became the Chorusmaster of the Budapest Opera and two years later the conductor of the Budapest Volksoper. From 1914 to 1922 he was principal conductor of the Royal Opera in Dresden. At Dresden he worked with Richard Strauss on productions of his early operas and conducted the German premiere of Die Frau Ohne Schatten. In 1922 Reiner became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra becoming a U.S. citizen in 1928. In 1932 he went to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to head the orchestral and opera departments. After a decade (1938-48) as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, he joined the Metropolitan Opera. Then in 1953 he became Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which he built into one of the world's greatest. Dr. Reiner was forced to resign his post in 1962 due to ill health, and he died the following year.
No recording available for this artist
Anton Seidl (1850-1898)
Anton Seidl was born in Budapest on May 7, 1850, and entered the Leipzig Conservatorium at the age of twenty in 1870. He remained there until 1872, when he was summoned to Bayreuth as one of Wagner's copyists. At Bayreuth he assisted in making the first fair copy of Der Ring des Nibelungen basing himself on the composer's manuscript score. Wagner and Seidl worked together closely between 1872 and 1876. Thoroughly imbued with the Wagnerian spirit, it was natural that he should take a part in the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876. During this time, Wagner wrote to his young assistant: "My dear friend, pay more attention to the stage, follow my staging directions ... and you will find the correct way through the music." His chance as a conductor came when, on Wagner's recommendation, he was appointed to the Leipzig Stadt-Theater, where he remained until 1882 when he went on tour with Angelo Neumann's Nibelungen Ring company. The critics attributed much of the artistic success that the company had at Her Majesty's Theatre in London in June of that year to his great conducting. In 1883 Seidl went with Neumann to Bremen, but two years later was appointed successor to Leopold Damrosch as conductor of the German Opera in New York. In 1885 he joined the Metropolitan Opera where he led most of the important premieres of the MET's initial German seasons. According to Metropolitan Opera records he was paid $3,250 for his services for the 1885-86 season. In 1886 he returned to Bayreuth, this time as a famous conductor, and in 1897 made his debut in Covent Garden. He died in New York on the 28th of March 1898.
"Prelude to Act III" Die Meistersinger
Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997)
Georg Solti studied piano and composition with Zoltan Kodaly and Béla Bartók at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, giving his first concert at the age of twelve. He began working as assistant at the Budapest Opera in 1930 and served as musical director from 1934 to 1939. In the summers of 1936 and 1937 he was assistant to Arturo Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival, an encounter that left a deep impression on the young musician. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he emigrated to Zurich, resuming his career as a pianist. He won first prize at the Geneva International Competition in 1942. His career took off at the end of the Second World War. For almost twenty-five years, he concentrated entirely on conducting operas. He was chief musical director of the Munich Opera from 1947 to 1951 and of the Frankfurt Opera from 1952 to 1961. Covent Garden excelled during his tenure as musical director (1961-71). In 1951 he conducted for the first time in Salzburg. At the end of the 1950’s he made his first recordings of Wagner's music with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. His complete stereo recording of the Ring with the Vienna Philharmonic, produced by John Culshaw for London Records in the 1960's is one of the landmark recordings of the 20th century. In 1969 he took over as director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his second career as a conductor of orchestral music began. He remained in this post until 1991. From 1972 to 1975 he was also director of the Orchestre de Paris. In 1973, Rolf Liebermann appointed him as musical adviser to the Paris Opera. In 1983, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Richard Wagner, he conducted Der Ring des Nibelungen in Bayreuth.
"Good Friday Spell" Parsifal
Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957)
Toscanini was born in Parma, Italy, and began training at the Parma Conservatory when he was nine years old. There he learned to play the cello and studied musical composition. In 1885 he graduated from the Conservatory with top awards. One year later he received an invitation to play with the Italian opera in Rio de Janeiro. On the night of a performance of Aida, the conductor became ill, and Toscanini was asked to fill in. After a spectacular performance which he conducted from memory, he was asked to remain as conductor of the Italian opera until the end of the season. This twist of fate led to an outstanding career spanning several decades. Toscanini began his conducting career in major Italian opera houses in Rome, Milan and Turin, touring with different opera companies from 1887 to 1896. He was appointed Chief Conductor of La Scala, Milan in 1898. After conducting in Buenos Aires, Toscanini came to the United States in 1908 to be the conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. In 1929 he made his debut at Bayreuth, becoming the first non-German to conduct at the Festival. In 1933, however, as Hitler came to power, he withdrew from Bayreuth, and never came back to the Festspielhaus. In protest of the Fascists governments rising in Europe and their persecution of Jewish artists, he conducted the inaugural concerts of the newly-formed Palestine Orchestra, later named the Israel Philharmonic. In New York City, The NBC Symphony Orchestra was formed specifically for him in 1937. He conducted this orchestra for seventeen years, broadcasting concerts from New York to radios, and later televisions across the country. At the age of 87 Toscanini retired, and he died in New York City on January 16, 1957.