„Celibidache Rehearses Bruckner’s Ninth“ – Director’s Notes
By Jan Schmidt-Garre
Many years after completing my major film about Sergiu Celibidache I was looking through the rolls of film I had not used when, amongst the uncut material, I was fascinated to discover some footage of the old Celibidache rehearsing Bruckner’s Ninth. My immediate thought was that if a viewer were zapping around and came across this expressive face reflecting every nuance of the music, he or she would stay with it for minutes on end. But as soon as the usual shot of a particular musician playing came up, I would have lost her. „Ok, a cultural film”, she would say to herself, and would continue zapping through the programmes. So I decided to try to use the material to create a film that would retain the intensity of this great man and, while the orchestra was playing, would concentrate on Celibidache’s face – the musicians would only feature during the verbal dialogue. In the cutting room it became clear that this in no way means a downgrading of the importance of the musicians. What it does is reflect the division of labour between orchestra and conductor. Celibidache himself described the conductor as a relatively late historical phenomenon – a “dubious figure” who does not make music himself but rather uses the expressivity of his hands, arms and face to seduce others into making music. His face is the screen onto which the music is projected.