Karajan and Visits to Great Britain

The First Visit in 1924

In the summer of 1924 the Karajan brothers, 16 year old Herbert and 18 year old Wolfgang, were sent by their parents to Great Britain in order to improve their English. After a stormy ferry crossing they landed in Southampton and then moved on to stay in Bournemouth where Herbert had a disagreement with their landlord, a Mr Wellon.

The brothers then travelled on to London, a much nicer place than Bournemouth in Herbert’s opinion. Nevertheless, his parents did not really approve of the move. In London they stayed in “Nightingale Lane” which runs between Wandsworth Common and Clapham Common. Here, Herbert felt they were comfortably close to the centre but far enough away from the “bad city air”.

The brothers had money problems during their 3-month trip and their father was forced to send them extra funds of £60-00 midway through their stay.

Bournemouth in the 1920's
London in the 1920's

Oxford 1978

On 21st June 1978 Herbert von Karajan received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from Oxford University. This was not the first honorary degree he had been offered but it was the one which touched him the most.

Because he was in the middle of a short summer tour with the Berlin Philharmonic Karajan flew in from Basle to R.A.F. Brize Norton early on the morning. Immediately after the ceremony was over he had to fly to Paris for an afternoon rehearsal which meant he had to miss the formal luncheon.

On 28th May 1981, as a gesture of thanks to the University, he gave a charity concert in the Sheldonian Theatre where he had received his degree three years earlier.