In the chronicles of the Berliner Philharmoniker, 1966 was a remarkable year: In quick succession, two young conductors made their debuts with the orchestra who soon afterwards joined the elite of the music world: Claudio Abbado and Seiji Ozawa. Both were discoveries of Herbert von Karajan and the press outdid each other in their praise of the maestro’s unmistakable talent for discovering outstanding talent. Seiji Ozawa, winner of the conducting competition in Besançon, Koussevitzky Prize winner and former assistant to Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, had been music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for just over a year, and had recently made a spectacular debut in Salzburg. Compared to the elegant Abbado, the petite Japanese with his thick mane of hair seemed like a hippie. He darted around in front of the orchestra “like a hummingbird”, as one review said, but his “creative energy” was brilliant and he was celebrated as a “conducting Paganini”. He conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler Symphony – creating a programme concept which was also to be come typical for future concerts.
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