When, in the mid 1960s, Herbert von Karajan decided to record on film all nine Beethoven symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic, he began with the “Fifth” and asked the famous French movie director Henri-Georges Clouzot (Quai des Orfèvres) to direct. Recognizing in the music-loving director a kindred soul and master of the symbolic image, Karajan found an inspired partner. In another of Karajan’s first efforts, he asked six directors to “stage” one movement each of a Beethoven symphony. For a full week, the directors had the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan – all in full dress – at their disposal, with all the 35mm film, cameras, lighting and technical assistance they needed. Karajan’s most controversial production was Hugo Niebeling’s highly personal interpretation of the “Pastorale”, with its abstract shots of instruments, rapid rhythms, fade-ins and symbolically arranged colors. Some critics raved: “This music film could have been made by Antonioni, Fellini or Godard.” Karajan pursued his plan with tenacity, and the result is a milestone in the history of music on film: all nine Beethoven symphonies recorded at the peak of Karajan’s powers, unified by the performers but varied through the artistic vision of different directors.