Herbert Von Karajan
Known during his career as the "General Music Director of Europe," Herbert Von Karajan (1908-1989) is without a doubt one of the greatest conductors and most fascinating artists of this century. Though he conducted many orchestras over his long career -- including the Berlin Staatsoper Orchestra, London's Philharmonia Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic -- he is best known for his work with the Berlin Philharmonic, a post he officially held for life starting in 1967. Despite his diminutive height, he wielded a commanding presence at the podium. With his floppy hair, unrelenting passion and uncanny ability to perform every piece from memory, Karajan elevated the position of conductor to that of spiritual leader. A tireless perfectionist, he maintained control over every detail of his performances and recordings. He approached his personal life with much of the same zeal with which he approached his profession, devoting his free time to piloting, skiing and spiritual pursuits (he was a Zen Buddhist for some time). In addition to virtually redefining the role of the modern conductor, Karajan's legacy includes over eight hundred recordings.