My relationship with Furtwängler
I was lucky that when I started listening to classical music at the age of 14, my mother had Furtwängler’s recording of Beethoven’s Ninth from Bayreuth 1951. Since the beginning, I was always interested in comparing interpretations. I was struck by how much strength and drama this recording had compared to all the others I heard. This prompted me to explore further this conductor, whose name I didn’t even know how to pronounce. When I heard the recording of the Beethoven Fifth from 1947, I was shocked. I didn’t know what to make of it. It went against what all the conducting dogma said. Still, the performance pulled me in and I felt I needed to understand why. It took me a few weeks, but when I finally got that interpretation internalized, I felt I was beginning to understand this incredible musician. I began looking for all the recordings of Furtwängler in New York at the time. A couple of years later, when at Columbia University, I joined the Classical Music station (WKCR-FM),and started doing a program devoted to his recordings. I have been fighting for him since then.
When many years later I started conducting, one thing I was curious about was to see if I could do something like what he did with Beethoven. Until the 1990’s, I had never heard a satisfactory recording of a Beethoven symphony in a live concert. Indeed, I found it very difficult, perhaps impossible, to reach the heights of depth and intensity that Furtwängler could achieve. Of course, I wasn’t trying to copy his interpretations since that would be betraying Furtwängler's ethos. But there is no denying that my view of Beethoven’s symphonies is very much influenced by the German master: they usually seem so right.
I was also interested in getting the best sounding versions on CD. The Ninth from 1942 was my Holy Grail. I bought more than 20 versions, to be disappointed time and again. Eventually, I realized that I could do better than those, especially since I had acquired some mastery of an editing program through editing my own recordings. I went to work on that Ninth obsessively for weeks, until I felt I had a version that was better, for my taste, than all the others. Then I went on from there to work on my favorite wartime recordings.
Furtwanglersound.com is a result of that.
Since 1992, when he conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela in Wagner’s Meistersinger Prelude, Eduardo Chibás has carved out a solid trajectory as an orchestral conductor that is now recognized internationally.
An example of this is the first CD set of all Beethoven symphonies made in Venezuela, all recorded live with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Carabobo.
Sándor Végh, who was music director of the Camerata Salzburg and was twice in Caracas wrote: “Eduardo Chibás has a very tight relation to Beethoven and his special message.” Later he was invited to conduct The Camerata Salzburg on a visit to Caracas.
In 1999, he also conducted Portugal’s Orchestra of the North. In 2005 he recorded, also live, Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos with the Brazilian pianist Luiz de Moura Castro and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela.
In November of 2007, Eduardo Chibás travelled to Germany, where he was invited to conduct Beethoven’s Fourth and Seventh Symphonies at Regensburg, Bavaria, with excellent reviews in the local press. The Donaupost wrote: "Eduardo Chibás sparked impressive energies in the orchestra".
While Eduardo Chibás is well known for his interpretations of Beethoven’s symphonies and concertos, his name is now also linked with another great symphonic composer: Anton Bruckner. In May of 2004, Eduardo Chibás conducted Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela. It was the first time the orchestra had performed the work. In 2005 he conducted the Eighth Symphony with the same orchestra, this event marking the premiere in Venezuela of this great work. Another Venezuelan premiere followed in 2007 with Bruckner’s Ninth.
The live recordings of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies have been praised by international publications such as Fanfare Magazine. In the January/February 2007 edition said: “Eduardo Chibás proves a thoroughly sympathetic and powerful interpreter of Anton Bruckner’s music. His vision is distinctly his own, but it rivals in quality those of legendary conductors whose names come up most often when we think of great interpreters of Bruckner, for example Furtwängler, Jochum, Karajan, Klemperer, Knappertsbusch, Tintner, and Wand.”
In 2008, the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal put on sale a collection of 10 records of Eduardo Chibás and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela with sales of almost 200,000 CD's.
In 2018, Chibás completed a new cycle of Beethoven Symphonies with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela. In 2019, this cycle was published in Japan, which has a very demanding classical music public. Soon after, the set of the 5 Beethoven Piano Concertos with Luiz de Moura Castro and Bruckner’s last 3 symphonies were also published.
Simultaneous with his development as an orchestra conductor, he has also had a career as a lecturer in music as well as other subjects.
Eduardo Chibás was born in Havana, Cuba. He received a BS and MS in Applied Mathematics and Operations Research from Columbia University, New York. He lives in Venezuela since 1971. In 1976, he founded the advertising agency AW Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, today Eliaschev Saatchi & Saatchi. He is President of the Wagner Society of Venezuela.