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NOW: Carlos in Italian

Corresponding With Carlos has just been published in Italian by the distinguished house Il Saggiatore, based in Milano. Its translation was prepared by Marco Bertoli.

Carlos Kleiber Vita e lettere

ISBN 9788842827719

Publisher’s website (in Italian)


NOW: Carlos in Korean / Carlos on DGG Documentary

FLASH:  the DGG audio documentary, produced by Jon Tolansky, is once again available here: /


The book has now been translated into Korean, and just been published there by TNF Inc / PHONO.

Should you be interested in this version, all 616 pages, here are the details:

ISBN 9788993818611

좋은 하늘!



Paperback Version

Corresponding With Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber
now in paperback…

NEWS:  The paperback version will be released on 16 January 2014, and be available through Amazon and its competition.

978-1-4422-3117-7 • Paperback
16 January 2014 • $38.00 USD • (£22.95)

CANADIAN AMAZON PRICE:  $25.04 CDN. The difference is inexplicable.

UPDATE: an important discovery. Films of Carlos IN REHEARSAL for the 1992 New Years’ Day Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic.

These three are quite new, and very much worth seeing. They were likely made during the TV camera rehearsal for these live televised events. I have no idea about their provenance, nor have I seen even one frame before today. All thanks to whomever. 8:54 and 6:07 respectively, and more.

In time, all will come out. Meantime…

Author talk at Simon Fraser University, 18 March 2012

This is an audio version of a multimedia talk given at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver on 18 March 2012. It has been edited to remove pauses and failed jokes.

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Review: BBC Music Magazine, Editor’s Choice

May 2012 / Michael Tanner

An unexpected, fascinating insight into the world of conductor Carlos Kleiber

TRUE TO HIS WORD:  Kleiber was one of the last great letter writers

“This is mainly a book so fascinating that for once the ‘impossible to put down’ cliché is appropriate. Charles Barber was, in 1989, a young music teacher and conductor who sent a short letter to Kleiber, and to his amazement received a reply a few days later. He wanted to be Kleiber’s student, but there could be no question of that. Instead, they became frequent correspondents, and all of Kleiber’s letters concerning music are published here, with enough of Barber’s to make the exchanges intelligible…

“What makes Kleiber’s correspondence with Barber especially interesting is that Barber regularly sent Kleiber video cassettes of the great conductors, eliciting a deluge of comments on their style, greatness (or weaknesses), and their music. Kleiber’s criticism alternates with his commentary on his own slender repertoire and his growing distaste for conducting…

“The first 180 pages are devoted to a biographical sketch, with many quotations from letters:  illuminating, but I doubt whether many readers will be able to resist the temptation to leap ahead to the epistolary section. Both parts give us a vivid picture of a life of prodigious promise, largely wasted…

“… grateful though we must be to Barber for producing this book, it must be said that his own contributions are often turgid, almost to the point of unintelligibility.”

Review: Opera News

May 2012 / Jeffery S. McMillan

“Since the death of Carlos Kleiber, in 2004, the maestro’s reputation, not to mention his mystique, has grown appreciably. Son of the famous conductor Erich Kleiber, Carlos eclipsed his father’s shadow through his own uncompromising pursuit of excellence and an ineffable sympathy for musical expression… His performances consistently left a blissfully dazed wake of artists and audiences. Barbara Bonney, one of Kleiber’s frequent Sophies in Der Rosenkavalier, said, ‘We, the singers and orchestra, were thrown into his blender of musical genius and came out of a performance not quite knowing how it all happened. It was always like that with him. It was glorious.’

“… Barber’s attempt to shed light on his enigmatic subject has one unique and undeniably precious asset — his fifteen-year correspondence with Kleiber. That the inscrutable maestro would let his guard down and exchange letters with anyone for so long is surprising, but he clearly appreciated Barber’s whimsical humor and passionate devotion to the art of conducting. Beyond their Northern California to Munich pen-pal exchanges, the two bonded over a joint project: Barber would comb through video archives for rare clips of famous conductors and make copies for Kleiber to critique and comment on. Like the nearly lost courtship ritual of exchanging mix-tapes, music broke the ice for a close connection.

“… The unapproachable demigod vanishes as we read Kleiber’s teasing complaints about America’s uncritical reverence for Abraham Lincoln, quotes from his beloved Emily Dickinson, or references to his chosen profession as “stick-waving.” Yet more than the man’s sense of humor comes through. When Barber asks to use Kleiber’s Fledermaus orchestra parts to copy the conductor’s markings, the maestro gives him some excellent advice: ‘If you take someone else’s material, the flight of your genius will be hampered. You will be confessing to laziness disguised as willingness to learn.’”

Author interview on KALW-FM, San Francisco, 30 July 2004

An hour of discussion and musical excerpts, as heard on “Open Air” with Alan Farley.

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Author interview on BBC3 “Music Matters”, 10 March 2012

On Saturday March 10, BBC3 presented a new radio documentary and book review of ‘Corresponding With Carlos’.

The author was interviewed on ‘Music Matters’ by its host Tom Service. That programme is the BBC’s flagship show for news about music.

True story: interviewer Tom Service is a descendant of Robert Service, the great master of Yukon dogs and doggerel.

Click the link below to listen to the programme:

“Who Was Carlos Kleiber?” on BBC3, 26 September 2009

Author interview, together with Plàcido Domingo, Sir Peter Jonas, and Christine Lemke-Matwey.