Herbert von Karajan (born Heribert, Ritter von Karajan; German pronunciation: [ˈhɛɐbɛɐt fɔn ˈkaʁaˌjan]; 5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian orchestra and opera conductor. To the wider world he was perhaps most famously associated with the Berlin Philharmonic, of which he was principal conductor for 35 years. Although his work was not universally admired, he is generally considered to have been one of the greatest conductors of all time, and he was a dominant figure in European classical music from the 1960s until his death. Part of the reason for this was the large number of recordings he made and their prominence during his lifetime. By one estimate he was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records.
The Karajans were of Greek-Macedonian or Aromanian ancestry. His great-great-grandfather, Georg Karajan, was born in Kozani, a town in the then Ottoman province of Rumelia (present West Macedonia in today's Greece), leaving for Vienna in 1767, and eventually Chemnitz, Electorate of Saxony. He and his brother participated in the establishment of Saxony's cloth industry, and both were ennobled for their services by Frederick Augustus III on 1 June 1792, thus the prefix "von" to the family name. The surname Karajánnis became Karajan. Although traditional biographers ascribed a Serbian or simply a Slavic origin to his mother, Karajan's family from the maternal side, through his grandfather who was born in the village of Mojstrana, Duchy of Carniola (today in Slovenia), was Slovene. By this line, Karajan was related to Austrian composer of Slovene descent Hugo Wolf. Karajan seems to have known some Slovene.