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On September 26, 1971, filmmaker Philo Bregstein had the rare opportunity to capture the great Otto Klemperer on film. In rehearsal with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer was his usual exacting self, demanding precision in phrasing, dynamic contrast, and structure—and Bregstein’s cameras captured every moment of the process in what would turn out to be the maestro’s final concert, aged 86 and firmly established as one of the most important and most influential conductors of the 20th century.
Klemperer’s interpretations of Mahler, Wagner, Beethoven, and Brahms have served as standards for every generation of conductor since. Bregstein’s approach was designed “not so much to convey a number of musical impressions, but more to create a historical musical document that sought to reveal the core of Klemperer’s art of conducting.” Rounded out by new footage shot in 2015 while recutting and restoring the original films, Bregstein’s film succeeds on every level, capturing one of music’s most monumental legacies for posterity.