Portrait Of A Maestro

He is called the most significant musician of the twentieth century. Even those who have never attended a symphony concert know his name: Herbert von Karajan. His instruments were the world's best orchestras. His 300 million recordings have outsold and left Michael Jackson, Madonna and the Rolling Stones in the dust. Vienna, Paris, London, Milan, New York and again and again Berlin were the stations of his extraordinary career. His was unique, perhaps "the" career of the century. A career that began under the Nazi regime and for which, as he later conceded, the young ambitious conductor "would have killed for". Did he join the party to be able to conduct, or was he a Nazi by conviction? This question pursued him to the end of his days. All his life he was enthusiastic about technology. He promoted the success of CDs and concert films. His lifestyle fascinated the popular press: his racy cars, airplanes, sailboats, his pretty young wife. But hidden behind the glamour was a shy person who dealt for decades with pain while striving to his last breath for the perfect timbre. His contemporaries describe him as a reserved but highly glamourous person, charismatic, power wielding, with native Austrian charm. Who was this Herbert von Karajan? What motivated him? What did he want with his art? Why is he today, 30 years after his death, still so present? A film that throws light on unknown facets of this artist and describes the highs and lows of a unique conductor.

First broadcast

September 22, 10.25pm

Produced by

SWR in coproduciton with ARTE

A film by

Sigrid Faltin



Running time

53 min.


cinematographer  Jürgen Carle

editor  Petra Hölge

sound  Holger Junge

producer  Jochen Dickbertel

commissioning editor  Gudrun Hanke-El Ghomri

Online here

„We produce documentary films - it's real life that interests us.“
Sigrid Faltin, white pepper films


Please fill out all fields.

Contact Info

white pepper Filmgesellschaft

+49 761 40 84 40

mail (at) whitepepper.de

Schlierbergstrasse 25A
79100 Freiburg