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The life of componist and conductor Otto Klemperer

Philo Bregstein
Time period: 1885-1971
Number of interviews: 7 (3 people)
Accessibility: restricted
Transcripts: none
Period of interviews: April 1971

Type interview: journalism

The collection has not yet been digitized and therefore cannot be viewed directly at Sound & Vision. Digitization can, however, be requested from Sound & Vision via:


In DAAN, the digital archive of Beeld & Geluid the following item can be found: Radio Doc: de zoektocht van Philo Bregstein. In this interview Bregstein discusses Klemperer.


Medium: 13 audio tapes

The interviews were conducted on behalf of Philo Bregstein’s film Otto Klemperer’s journey through his times (1973, 95 min). Bregstein made this film about the German conductor and composer Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) on assignment for R.M. Productions. In these interviews, Bregstein paid attention not only to Klemperer’s life but also to the broader musical climate in Germany in the 20th century. Here, attention is paid to the influence of Mahler, Bruckner, Schoenberg and Strawinsky. The interviews are therefore useful for broader music history.


In the early 20th century, Klemperer’s unusual, modern opera staging attracted attention. Klemperer came from a Jewish family and consequently left Germany for the United States in 1933. After World War II, he settled in Zurich. The commentary accompanying the film is largely spoken by the conductor himself, compiled from the interviews. His daughter Lotte also appears in it. The production was later, on May 19, broadcast on German television (ARD) under the title Otto Klemperers lange Reise, which is in the Sound & Vision archives.


The following individuals were interviewed:

  • Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)
  • Lotte Klemperer (1923-2003)
  • Katia Mann (1883-1980), the wife of Thomas Mann. After World War II, like Klemperer, she lived in Zurich. Thomas Mann was a great writer and public intellectual.


Bregstein also made a separate film in 1971 about the rehearsals leading up to the last concert Klemperer conducted in September 1971. This appeared under the title Otto Klemperer in rehearsal and concert (54 min).