In 1946, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal conductor, Wilhelm Furtwängler, was still undergoing a process of denazification, with the result that Sergiu Celibidache was offered the chance of a lifetime. There followed six great years during which the young Romanian conductor and the venerable orchestra learnt a lot about each other while working together in this way. They discovered the whole of the repertory that had been banned during the years of National Socialism in Germany. In 1954, the orchestra decided to elect not Celibidache but Herbert von Karajan as Furtwängler’s successor following the latter’s untimely death.
The Berliners had to wait thirty-eight years before Celibidache returned to conduct them again in 1992. He conducted then the Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, and the present documentary shows conductor and orchestra rehearsing for this memorable occasion, while also including interviews with many orchestral musicians, a number of whom still recalled Celibidache from his early years in Berlin. The result is a fascinating record of the conductor’s triumphant return.