|Herbert von Karajan (5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian orchestra and opera conductor and one of the most renowned conductors in music history. His obituary in The New York Times described him as "probably the world's best-known conductor and one of the most powerful figures in classical music." Karajan conducted the Berlin Philharmonic for thirty-five years. He is the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, with record sales estimated at 200 million.|
Karajan and the compact disc:
Karajan played an important role in the development of the original compact disc digital audio format. He championed this new consumer playback technology, lent his prestige to it and appeared at the first press conference announcing the format. The maximum playing time of CD prototypes was sixty minutes but the final specification enlarged the disc size and extended the capacity to seventy-four minutes. There are various stories regarding this, one of which is that this was due to Karajan's insistence that the format have sufficient capacity to contain Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on a single disc. Kees Schouhamer Immink, a Philips research engineer and fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, denies the Beethoven connection.
In 1980 von Karajan conducted the first recording ever to be commercially released on CD: Richard Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie (1915), produced by Deutsche Grammophon. The recording is often acclaimed as greatest of this work.
Through the 1980s von Karajan re-recorded many works such as Beethoven's Nine Symphonies with Deutsche Grammophon's CD booklet introduction saying that he wanted to preserve his legacy digitally. He also pioneered the Digital Compact Cassette though that format was not particularly successful.