Claudio Abbado: The silence that follows the music

Claudio Abbado: The silence that follows the music
A film by Paul Smaczny (1996)

Claudio Abbado

Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta,
Maria João Pires, Maximilian Schell

Berliner Philharmoniker
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

This documentary about Claudio Abbado from the year 1996 is as much a journey through the recent history of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Director Paul Smaczny shows how the orchestra re-adjusted itself after the end of the Karajan era – such as in electing Abbado as chief conductor, whose friendly approach redefined communication and the artistic work of the orchestra. 

And we delve into the conductor’s biography, which is brought to life before our eyes through interviews and visits to the locations of his activities. Claudio Abbado himself speaks about his career and his artistic ideals, moreover, there are numerous interviews with colleagues. In addition to musicians from the Berliner Philharmoniker, these include Pierre Boulez and Abbado’s former fellow students Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta, and members of other orchestras Abbado has ties with: the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. 

And of course, the film also approaches the conductor through his music. We hear Abbado at rehearsals and concerts in Salzburg, Venice and Paris, making a recording with Maria João Pires, and in a historic recording from the Musikvereinssaal in Vienna from 1968. From all this, the picture emerges of an artist with a wide range of interests and a multifaceted yet focused personality.

Claudio Abbado

Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Ulrich Eckhard
Zubin Mehta, Maria João Pires, Maximilian Schell

Berliner Philharmoniker
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester


Written, produced and directed by Paul Smaczny
Director of photography: Nyika Jancso
Edited by Peter Pfanner
Sound: Toine Mertens
Production manager: Oliver Rieger
TV producers: Evelyn Paulmann (ZDF), Haide Tenner (ORF)
Executive producer: Bernd Hellthaler

A production of EuroArts Music International in coproduction with ZDF, Deutsche Welle TV and ORF © 1996 EuroArts Music International