Recorded live at La Scala in 1956, the Prelude to Act 3 of Verdi's "La Traviata" conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini

Carlo Maria Giulini, the elegant and eloquent Italian conductor, was born on this date 100 years ago (he died in 2005). The centenary is a good reason to take a moment and recall his uncommon artistry.

This brief audio clip -- Prelude to Act 3 of Verdi's "La Traviata," recorded live at La Scala in 1956 -- easily reveals the Giulini touch. The conductor makes every phrase speak, and the way he stretches out the very last notes communicates with a most extraordinary pathos. You just don't hear music-making like this everyday.