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Beethoven, Klemperer and Mendelssohn

Posted at 10:22 AM on February 1, 2007 by John Zech
Filed under: Ludwig van Beethoven, The blog

So, the Minnesota Orchestra kicked off their "Beethoven's Back" promotion today with The Big Guy himself handing out coffee, newspapers and downloads in front of Orchestra Hall this morning, and it reminded me of a story about Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the great conductor of long ago, Otto Klemperer.

It seems Klemperer was visiting a music shop with a recording company executive named George de Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. He approached a clerk and asked, "Do you have Klemperer conducting Beethoven's Fifth?"

"No," the man replied. "We have it conducted by Ormandy and Toscanini. Why do you want it by Klemperer?"

"Because I am Klemperer," the conductor replied indignantly.

"Sure," said the clerk, and nodding at his companion he said "And that, I suppose, is Beethoven?"

"No," Klemperer grinned, "That's Mendelssohn."