Carlos Kleiber - Traces to Nowhere
A film by Eric Schulz
Picture:16:9, 1080i Full HD
Sound: PCM stereo
Region: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, IT, ES, JP
ARTHAUS BLU-RAY 108041 [72:00]
Before watching this documentary, I knew little about Carlos Kleiber. He gave no interviews, allowed only occasional filming of his performances. While he was very active as a conductor he stayed under the radar as far as publicity was concerned. His desire, according to his sister Veronika, was to leave no trace.
I have to admit that, after watching this documentary, I don’t know that much more about Kleiber. It’s made up of two types of footage: interviews with people who knew him, such as Plácido Domingo, Brigitte Fassbaender, Otto Schenk, and his sister Veronika Kleiber, and one filmed rehearsal. It sheds little light on the life of an important and influential conductor.
I learned a bit about his youth, his relations with his father, conductor Erich Kleiber, and with a handful of people he worked with. However the interviews are sketchy and the rehearsal footage limited, so I wasn’t able to get much of an understanding of either his life or work. There are points when a musician who was in the orchestra featured in the rehearsal footage discusses Kleiber’s approach, but this is only interesting at an anecdotal level. Other performers, notably Brigitte Fassbaender, who knew him well, discuss him, but the overall portrait is too pointillist to amount to much for someone who doesn’t know Kleiber enough to fill in the blanks.
The description of the documentary claims to “follow in the traces of Kleiber’s final journey”:
On 11 July 2004 Carlos Kleiber got into his car and drove from Munich, via the Alps, to his holiday home in the remote Slovenian village of Konjsica. There he wrote a final letter to a friend in which he bid farewell to the world. A short time later the conductor, increasingly plagued by illness and suffering, was found dead. […] The film follows in the traces of Kleiber’s final journey and, by means of the recollections of friends and other companions […] Yet the only “following in the traces” is some footage of the road leading to the town where he died, and some shots of the cemetery where he is buried.
This documentary will certainly appeal to fans of Carlos Kleiber who are familiar with his life and his recordings, but for those who don’t know him, it is just too sketchy
Kirk McElhearn
Kirk writes about more than just music on his blog Kirkville (
For fans of Carlos Kleiber. Others will likely not find much of interest in this sketchy documentary.