Sergiu Celibidache - Romanian Conductor Internationally Known

Sergiu Celibidache :11 July [O.S. 28 June] 1912 – 14 August 1996) was a Romanianconductor, composer, and teacher. Educated in his native Romania, and later in Paris and Berlin, Celibidache's career in music spanned over five decades, including tenures as principal conductor for the Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic,Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and several European orchestras. Later in life, he taught at Mainz University in Germany and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Celibidache frequently refused to release his performances on commercial recordings during his lifetime claiming that a listener could not obtain a "transcendental experience" outside of the concert hall. Many of the recordings of his performances were released posthumously. Nonetheless, he earned international acclaim for celebrated interpretations ofclassical music repertoire and was known for a spirited performance style informed by his study and experiences in Zen Buddhism. His later career was marred by controversy and accusations of sexism and discrimination that came to light during a 12-year legal battle that dominated his tenure at the Munich Philharmonic.

Some videos with Sergiu Celibidache:

Early life and education

Sergiu Celibidache was born on 28 June 1912 in Roman, a small town in North East Romania, where his father was a government official. Early in his youth, he began studying piano and after traditional schooling in Romania, he was sent by his father to Bucharest and then to Paris where he studied music, philosophy and mathematics. His father had expected him to pursue a political career in Romania.However, Celibidache chose to enroll in the Hochschule für Musik (Academy of Music) in Berlin, Germany in 1936 where he studied composition under Heinz Tiessen and later conducting under Kurt Thomas, Walter Gmeindl and Fritz Stein. He continued with doctoral studies at theFriedrich Wilhelm University (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität) in Berlin where he studied philosophy with Nicolai Hartmann and Eduard Spranger and musicology with Arnold Schering and Georg Schünemann. He submitted a dissertation on Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez (c. 1450–1521) and his work during the Renaissance. He received his degree in 1944. During his studies in Berlin, Celibidache was introduced to Zen Buddhism through the influence of his teacher, Martin Steinke, and the tenets of Buddhism informed Celibidache's worldview and work for the rest of his life.


Sergiu Celibidache studied in Berlin and, from 1945 to 1952, he was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. He later worked with radio orchestras in Stockholm, Stuttgartand Paris. He also worked in Britain in the late 1940s and 1950s, due partly to the promotional efforts of the pianist Eileen Joyce and her partner, an artists' agent. Joyce said that Celibidache was the greatest conductor she had ever worked with – "he was the only one who got inside my soul". In 1970 he was awarded Denmark's Sonning Award. From 1979 until his death he was music director of the Munich Philharmonic. He regularly taught at Mainz University in Germany and in 1984 taught at the Curtis Institute inPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania. Teaching was a major focus throughout his life and his courses were frequently open to all without fee. Among his notable students are Françoys Bernier, Jordi Mora, Peter Perret, Markand Thakar, Konrad von Abel, Nils-Göran Areskoug and Tom Zelle as well as The Danish Windquintet.

He appeared in the film Botschafter der Musik where he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in a complete performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Egmont overture.

One controversial incident during his tenure with the Munich Philharmonic was a protracted legal battle to oust principal trombonist Abbie Conant that lasted 12 years, with Conant ultimately prevailing. Judge Angela Mack ruled that the City of Munich through the orchestra had broken the law concerning the equal treatment of employees.A detailed description of the case and the sexism Ms. Conant had to endure can be found in an internet article published by her husband, William Osbourne. Her audition and controversy is discussed in Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink.


Celibidache died at the age of 84 on 14 August 1996 at La Neuville-sur-Essonne, in the Arrondissement Pithiviers, near Paris. He was buried in the Cimetière de Neuville sur Essone.

Personal life

In 1965, Celibidache married Ioana Procopie Dimitrescu. They had one son, Sergiu Ioan Celibidache ("Serge"), born 19 June 1968.