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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Conductor Giulini dies in Italy
Carlo Maria Giulini
Giulini was famed for his imposing presence on the rostrum
Conductor Carlo Maria Giulini, one of the most distinguished musicians of the 20th Century, has died at the age of 91 in Brescia, Italy.

Giulini started out as a viola player, playing under such legendary conductors as Wilhelm Furtwangler, Otto Klemperer and German composer Richard Strauss.

He made his conducting debut in Rome in 1944, becoming musical director of the La Scala opera house in Milan in 1953.

From 1967, however, he abandoned opera to concentrate on orchestral works.

Giulini was regarded as a gentle, considerate man who enjoyed the affection of all the orchestras he led.

On the rostrum, though, he could appear frightening, his eyes staring wildly about him and his arms making great scything movements through the air.

Deserter

Born in southern Italy in 1914, he was enchanted by the wandering fiddle players who roamed the countryside after World War II.

As a five-year-old he asked his father to buy him a similar instrument.

He went on to study viola at St Cecilia's Academy in Rome and, on what he would later call the proudest day of his life, join the city's Augusteo Orchestra.

Carlo Maria Giulini
Giulini deserted the Italian army during the Second World War
Giulini served in the Italian army in Croatia in the early years of World War II but later deserted.

Although recently married, he went into hiding and only narrowly eluded the Gestapo.

He emerged when Rome was liberated by the Allies in June 1944 and agreed to make his public debut as a conductor.

The performance featured Brahms' Fourth Symphony, which occupied a special place in his career - in 1969 he made what was regarded as a definitive recording of the work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Triumphs

Although Guilini's early passions were chamber music and the symphonic repertoire, his three-year reign at La Scala was considered a golden age for the opera house.

Working with Maria Callas and directors Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli, he was responsible for some of the great operatic triumphs of the post-war era, including La Traviata and The Barber of Seville.

Now firmly established as one of the world's great conductors of opera, Giulini made his first appearance in Britain at the Edinburgh Festival, leading the Glyndebourne Opera in Verdi's Falstaff.

Carlo Maria Giulini
His time with La Scala in Milan is considered a golden age
In 1958 he conducted the celebrated Visconti production of Verdi's Don Carlos at Covent Garden, marking the centenary of the Royal Opera House.

During the 1960s he began a long and fruitful relationship with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, recording an outstanding performance of Verdi's Requiem.

But Giulini tired of the rough and tumble of opera house life and devoted more time to concerts, taking regular engagements with the Israel, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics.

He became chief conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1978 and worked with several other orchestras in the United States.

Throughout his life he remained under the spell of the great composers. Placido Domingo said it was almost shocking to see someone so good demonstrate such power.

One soloist said Giulini's immersion in music was so deep it was almost too beautiful to endure.




SEE ALSO:
Famed music director Viotti dies
17 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
Maestro Muti's musical journey
24 Sep 04 |  Entertainment
'Genius' conductor Kleiber dies
22 Jul 04 |  Entertainment


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