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Great Conductors of the Third Reich [VHS]

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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(Mar 11, 1997)
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Product Details

  • Format: Black & White, Classical, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Bel Canto Society
  • VHS Release Date: March 11, 1997
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304478801
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,442 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

The primary attraction of this video is that it provides a visual document of some of the greatest German conductors of the century. For those interested in how a conductor "looked" when leading an orchestra, this is an interesting documentary (particuarly for Furtwangler, whose style is the definition of idiosyncratic). The performances are uniformly superb, and provide a captivating contrast with the orchestral style heard(and seen) today in most major symphonies. Therefore, as a muscial document, this video is highly recommended.
However, as a historical documentary, it is deeply flawed. There is no narration, and only minimal information on the subtitles. Historical context is also missing from most of the performances. Because this video is a release from a company specializing in musical performances and not history, this is perhaps not surprising, however it is disappointing.
Equally disappointing is the booklet by "expert" Frederic Spotts. Spotts suffers from a failing common to many of those who write about virtually anything related to the Third Reich. He presents a cartoon image of the persons described (in this case the conductors who chose to remain in Germany under Nazi rule), and therefore does nothing to help understand how such a monstrous regime could gain power in a country like Germany. Perhaps this is asking too much from a sixteen page booklet, however besides basic biographical information, this booklet is completely dispensible.
One final criticism. I realize that musical performances from wartime Germany are perhaps quite rare, but couldn't the documentary makers have considered other performances besides the 800 "Meistersinger" preludes included here?
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I purchased this VHS tape. I'm thankful that I did too. The recording of the old music isn't bad at all for what this tape is. I was very interested in viewing the conductors from this time period and certainly have not been disappointed.
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By A Customer on March 11, 2001
With all the copious information provided in recent years, it is ill-considered to portray Karajan as a musician in the service of theThird Reich. For those who insist on believing this man was a wicked Nazi I would beseech you to investigate the facts for yourselves. Karajan never once performed with Hitler in attendence, and he never once displayed any activity that could be interpreted as "a political sympathizer". Truth is, Karajan was rather disliked by the Third Reich---he was, in fact, married to a woman with Jewish blood at that time and was stunted in his musical ambitions by Furtwangler and his governmental supporters. Karajan's files from the Third Reich are extremely thin and contain nothing to support the sensationalism that follows him to this day---and who kept more detailed files than the Nazis? In short: the inaccuracies, the misrepresentations, and the incorrect gathering of facts are defamatory to a man whose talents remain largely unequalled.
A wonderful documentary on this specific conductor is available through this site, simply called "Herbert von Karajan", and produced by Kultur video.
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