Remembering the Gundula Janowitz & Herbert Von Karajan Connection

By David Salazar

Gundula Janowitz, born on August 2, 1937, is one of the most famous sopranos of the 20th century, spanning a wide range of German repertoire and making her name well-regarded in oratorios, lieder, and other concerts.

While she had a major association with a wide range of great conductors and the greatest opera houses in the world, there is one maestro that had a profound impact on her career – Herbert Von Karajan. The two shared major career moments and made some historic recordings together. Here is a look at the Janowitz-Karajan connection.

The Marriage 

Karajan engaged the young 22-year-old soprano as Barbarina in “Le Nozze di Figaro,” in 1959 at the Vienna State Opera, where she would go on to have a massive career. She would become a permanent member of the organization in 1962.

The Creation

The two famously collaborated on Haydn’s “Creation” in 1960, when Janowitz was but 23 and just getting out of the Graz Conservatory. They famously recorded the work together in what would prove to be Fritz Wünderlich’s final appearance on record. It is widely considered one of the great recordings of Haydn’s masterpiece.

Four Last Songs & Other Orchestral Works

For many, the duo’s greatest collaboration is on Strauss “Four Last Songs.”  But in addition to that Karajan brought her aboard for his most famous recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, his recording of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the St. Matthew Passion, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Brahm’s German Requiem. The German Requiem and Beethoven Ninth both exist on video recording as well.

Other Opera

The two collaborated on operas from Wagner’s “Ring” and recorded “Fidelio” together. While Janowitz rarely sang operas that were not in German, Karajan managed to get her to sing Verdi’s “Requiem” in a famed recording that also featured Christa Ludwig, Ruggiero Raimondi, and Carlo Bergonzi.


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