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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Once and Future Conductor

Berlin Philharmonic elects first zombie music director.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Berlin Philharmonic's once and future music director Herbert von Karajan.
Original image © Deutsche Grammophon, altered with MakeMeZombie.Com
The Berlin Philharmonic, seeking a replacement for outgoing music director Sir Simon Rattle has elected the animated cadaver of Herbert von Karajan to lead the orchestra into the 21st century. Mr. von Karajan, who died in 1989, is the first undead music director of a major symphony orchestra and the first Berlin music director to resume his post.

His undead corpse won election to the prestigious post by a wide margin, thanks to an eleventh-hour bloc vote by the lower brass and wind of the famed German orchestra. He edged out other horror-themed candidates, including celebrated Romanian conductor Vladimir Tepisch, Italian conductor and former medical doctor Vittorio Franco di Pietra and Valery Gergiev.

"We wanted a nod to tradition," principal flugelhorn player Augustus Pumpenhaus said. "Bringing back Maestro von Karajan will restore us to glory. "And the best part is, he can still conduct us without using a score."

"The best part of this decision was the budget savings," chief financial officer Stefan Sparfuchs said. "He does not require a salary, only a steady supply of the brains of promising young music students from nearby Potsdam Conservatory,"

"We wanted Wilhelm Furtwängler, but he cost too much," Mr. Sparfuchs admitted.

When asked for comment, Mr. von Karajan said "Mmmmmmmrrrrr arrrrrgh Beethoven," which indicates that the conductor is planning to open the 2016 season with that composer's complete nine symphonies, all of which will be recorded. This will be the fifth Karajan cycle of Beethoven recordings to enter the recorded catalogue and the first on the Berlin Philharmonic's own boutique label. Works by Brahms, Schumann and a new disc: Zombie Karajan: Adagio will follow.

"If this works," Mr. Pumpenhaus effused, "we can see about reviving some of our past generous donors."

The eminent Austrian conductor was revived with the aid of New Orleans native and classical music lover Juan Favorito, credited as technical consultant on the AMC series The Walking Dead. Mr. Favorito could not be reached for comment, as he has not been seen since New Year's Eve. He is being sought out by a New York based private detective.

Under Herbert von Karajan, the Berlin Philharmonic became one of the world's most famous orchestras, recording hundreds of LPs and CDs of the classical music canon. The orchestra is hoping that the re-animation of their leader will lead to a revival of interest in concert music and a new audience of thrill-seekers eager to see a conductor eat people's brains at intermission.

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