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Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler (January 25, 1886 – November 30, 1954) was a German conductor and composer. He is considered to be one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Furtwängler was one of the world's leading conductors. He became the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1922, was principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra (1922–26), and was a major guest conductor of other leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic. He was the leading conductor to remain in Germany during the Second World War and, although not an adherent to the Nazi regime, this decision caused lasting controversy. The extent to which his presence lent prestige to the Third Reich is still debated. Furtwängler's interpretive art is well documented in commercial and broadcast recordings and has contributed to his lasting reputation.
Furtwängler's conducting style is often contrasted with that of his older contemporary Arturo Toscanini, whose work during this period is also well documented. Like Toscanini, Furtwängler was a major influence on many later conductors, and his name is often mentioned when discussing their interpretive styles. Unlike Toscanini, Furtwängler sought a weighty, less rhythmically strict, more bass-oriented orchestral sound, with a more conspicuous use of tempo changes not indicated in the printed score.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Third Reich controversy
- 2 Career
- 3 Notable recordings
- 4 Notable premieres
- 5 Notable compositions
- 6 Media
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler was born in Schöneberg (now a locality of Berlin) into a prominent family. His father Adolf was an archaeologist, his mother a painter. Most of his childhood was spent in Munich, where his father taught at the city's Ludwig Maximilian University. He was given a musical education from an early age, and developed an early love of Ludwig van Beethoven, a composer with whom he remained closely associated throughout his life.
Though his chief fame chiefly rests on his conducting, he was also a composer and regarded himself first and foremost as such, having first taken up the baton in order to perform his own works. By the time of Furtwängler's conducting debut at the age of twenty, he had written several pieces of music. However, they were not well received, and that—combined with the financial insecurity of a career as a composer—led him to concentrate on conducting. At his first concert, he led the Kaim Orchestra (now the Munich Philharmonic) in Anton Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. He subsequently held posts at Munich, Strasbourg, Lübeck, Mannheim, Frankfurt, and Vienna.
Furtwangler followed Artur Bodanzky as first conductor of Mannheim Opera and Music Academy in September 1915 and remained until June 1920. During this time he kept outside work to a minimum as he gained experience. As a boy he had sometimes stayed with his grandmother in Mannheim and her family were close to the Geissmars, a Jewish family who were leading lawyers and amateur musicians in the town. He was a shy man and they befriended him. Berta Geissmar wrote, "Furtwängler became so good at [skiing] as to attain almost professional skill...Almost every sport appealed to him: he loved tennis, sailing and swimming...He was a good horseman..."
In 1920 he was appointed conductor of the Berlin Staatskapelle succeeding Richard Strauss, but he was unhappy with the acoustics there. In January 1922, following the sudden death of Arthur Nikisch, he was appointed to the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Shortly afterwards he was appointed to the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, again in succession to Nikisch.
Berta Geissmar was his secretary, based in Berlin, from 1921 until she was forced out in 1934. From 1921 for a few years, Furtwängler shared holidays in the Engadin with Berta and her mother. She reports that he was a very strong mountain walker and climber. In 1924 he bought his own house there. After he married the house was open to a wide circle of friends.
Furtwängler made his London debut in 1924, and continued to appear there as late as 1938 to conduct a cycle of Richard Wagner's Ring. In 1925 he appeared as guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, making return visits in the following two years.
Towards the end of the Second World War, under extreme pressure from the Nazi Party, Furtwängler fled to Switzerland. It was during this troubled period that he composed what is largely considered his most significant work, the Symphony No. 2 in E minor. Work on the symphony was begun in 1944, and carried on into 1945. It was given its premiere in 1948 by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Furtwängler's direction. Furtwängler and the Philharmonic recorded the symphony for Deutsche Grammophon; the music was much in the tradition of Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, composed on a grand scale for very large orchestra with romantic, dramatic themes. Another important work is the Symphonic Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, completed and premiered in 1937 and revised in 1954. Many themes from this work were also incorporated into Furtwängler's unfinished Symphony No. 3 in C sharp minor.
He resumed performing and recording following the war, and remained a popular conductor in Europe, although always under something of a shadow. He died in 1954 in Ebersteinburg, close to Baden-Baden. He is buried in the Heidelberg Bergfriedhof. The tenth anniversary of his death was marked by a concert in the Royal Albert Hall, London, conducted by his biographer Hans-Hubert Schönzeler.
Furtwängler is most famous for his performances of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, and Wagner, whose Ring cycle he conducted in 1950, with Kirsten Flagstad, and 1953, with Martha Mödl (he enlisted Mödl, his preferred Wagner soprano, again for his studio Ring, of which, because of his death in 1954, only Die Walkure was ever recorded). He was also a champion of modern music, notably the works of Paul Hindemith and Arnold Schoenberg, and conducted the World premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto (with the composer at the piano) on October 31, 1932 as well as performances of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra.
Third Reich controversy
First confrontations with the Nazis
When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Furtwängler was very critical of him. He said after his second meeting with Hitler in 1932, "This hissing street pedlar will never get anywhere in Germany". Furtwängler was convinced that Hitler would not stay in power for long.
Furtwängler continued to conduct music of Jewish composers such as Mendelssohn (on 12 and 13 February 1934 in Berlin). Many Jewish conductors were leaving Germany, and since the Nazis were afraid that Furtwängler would also decide to go abroad they did not apply the antisemitic rules to the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic or to its administrative staff (many Jews were employed by the orchestra at that time). When Bruno Walter was dismissed by the new Nazi government from his position as principal conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1933, the Nazis asked Furtwängler to replace him for an important international tour. Their goal was to show to the world that Germany did not need Jewish musicians. Furtwängler refused, and it was Richard Strauss who replaced Bruno Walter. On April 10, 1933, Furtwängler wrote a public letter to Goebbels to denounce the new rulers' anti-Semitism:
Ultimately there is only one dividing line I recognize: that between good and bad art. However, while the dividing line between Jews and non-Jews is being drawn with a downright merciless theoretical precision, that other dividing line, the one which in the long run is so important for our music life, yes, the decisive dividing line between good and bad, seems to have far too little significance attributed to it [...] If concerts offer nothing then people will not attend; that is why the QUALITY is not just an idea: it is of vital importance. If the fight against Judaism concentrates on those artists who are themselves rootless and destructive and who seek to succeed in kitsch, sterile virtuosity and the like, then it is quite acceptable; the fight against these people and the attitude they embody (as, unfortunately, do many non-Jews) cannot be pursued thoroughly or systematically enough. If, however, this campaign is also directed at truly great artists, then it ceases to be in the interests of Germany's cultural life [...] It must therefore be stated that men such as Walter, Klemperer, Reinhardt etc. must be allowed to exercise their talents in Germany in the future as well, in exactly the same way as Kreisler, Huberman, Schnabel and other great instrumentalists of the Jewish race. It is only just that we Germans should bear in mind that in the past we had Joseph Joachim one of the greatest violinists and teachers in the German classical tradition, and in Mendelssohn even a great German composer - for Mendelssohn is a part of Germany's musical history".
Furtwängler received a flood of letters of support, from people hoping that Furtwängler's intervention would reorientate the racial politics in music. The Nazis considered this letter as a very clear support for Jews. For instance, Winifred Wagner wrote, "The claim that Dr. Furtwängler has a favourable attitude towards Jews was proved once again by himself in his exchange of letter with Dr. Goebbels. For the last sixteen years or so he has had Fräulein Dr. Geissmar - a full-blooded Jewess - as his full-time assistant, and my first serious disagreement with him during the 1931 festival [in Bayreuth] was provoked by our opposing views of the Jewish press." In another text of June 1933 that was the basis for a coming discussion with Goebbels, Furtwängler starts by saying, "The Jewish question in musical spheres: a race of brilliant people!" He writes that if the boycotts against Jews are extended to artistic activities, he will resign from all his posts immediately, concluding "at any rate to continue giving concerts would be quite impossible without [the Jews] - to remove them would be an operation which would result in the death of the patient."
From 1933 onwards, Heinrich Himmler wished to send Furtwängler to a concentration camp. Very early, the Gestapo had built a case against Furtwängler noting, among other things, that he gave all his personal fees to German emigrants during his concerts outside Germany before the war. The German literary scholar Hans Mayer was one of these emigrants (he was a Jew and a socialist). Mayer later reported that for his performances of Wagner operas in Paris prior to the war, Furtwängler had chosen a cast only of German emigrants (Jews or political opponents to the third Reich) to sing. For concerts in London and Paris before the war, Furtwängler refused to conduct the Nazi anthems or to play music in rooms adorned with swastikas. During the universal exposition held in Paris in 1937, a picture of the German delegation was taken in front of the Arc de Triomphe that has been published by Fred K. Prieberg in his book on Furtwängler. In the picture, one can see that Furtwängler is the only German who does not give the Nazi salute. This picture was suppressed at the time.
Furtwängler never joined the Nazi Party nor did he approve of them, much like the composer Richard Strauss, who made no secret of his dislike of the Nazis. Furtwängler always refused to give the Nazi salute, to conduct the Horst-Wessel-Lied and to sign his letters with "Heil Hitler"-even in those he sent to Hitler.
On April 26, 1933, Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic stopped in Mannheim on a tour to perform a joint concert with the Mannheim orchestra for the 50th anniversary of Wagner's death and for the benefit of the Mannheim orchestra. This had been fixed before the Nazi period. The Nazified Mannheim Orchestra Committee stipulated beforehand that the Jewish leader of the Berlin orchestra, Szymon Goldberg, must give way to the leader of the Mannheim orchestra as leader for the evening. Goldberg had been appointed by Furtwängler when only 19. He refused and the concert took place as expected. But before the banquet organized for the evening, the members of the Mannheim Orchestra Committee came to remonstrate with Furtwängler, accusing him of "a lack of national sentiments". This infuriated him so much that he decided never to return to Mannheim and left the banquet to rejoin Berta Geissmer, his assistant. The fact that Furtwängler had preferred to spend the evening with his "Jewish friends" (Berta Geissmar and her mother) rather than with the Nazi authorities caused a controversy in Germany. He confirmed his decision not to come back to Mannheim by an official letter. He only returned twenty one years later in 1954 just before his death.
During the period 1933–1934, Furtwängler was constantly helping Jewish people, which caused Georg Gerullis, ministerial director at the Ministry of Culture, to send a letter to Goebbels saying, "Can you name me a Jew on whose behalf Furtwängler has not intervened?" Because of his international renown, he was appointed as the first vice-president of the Reichsmusikkammer and Staatsrat of Prussia. He accepted these honorific positions only to try to bend the racial policy of Nazis in music and to support Jewish musicians. Goebbels and Göring had given the order to the Nazi administration to very politely listen to all Furtwängler's requests to support Jewish musicians and to give him the impression that they would do what he asked. This gave him the false impression that he had some positive influence to stop the new racial policy. This is the reason why he invited several Jewish and anti-fascist artists (such as Yehudi Menuhin, Artur Schnabel, or Pablo Casals) to perform as soloists in the 1933/34 season, but they all refused to come to Nazi Germany. Since they refused, he asked some of the Jewish musicians of his orchestra such as Szymon Goldberg to play as soloists.
In 1933, Furtwängler obtained an audience with Hitler to try to convince him to stop the new antisemitic policy in the domain of music. He had prepared a long list of Jewish musicians to be preserved in Germany at all costs: these included the composer Arnold Schoenberg, the musicologist Curt Sachs, the violinist Carl Flesch, and Jewish musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic. Hitler did not listen to Furtwängler, who lost patience. Hitler and Furtwängler shouted at each other for hours. Berta Geissmar, Furtwängler's assistant, wrote, "After the audience, he told me that he knew now what is behind Hitler's narrow-minded measures. This is not only antisemitism, but the rejection of any form of artistic, philosophical thought, the rejection of any form of free culture..."
"The Hindemith Case"
In 1934, Furtwängler publicly described Hitler as an "enemy of the human race" and the political situation in Germany as a "Schweinerei" (literally a "pigsty"). On November 25, 1934, he wrote a letter in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, "The Hindemith Case", to in support of Hindemith's art. Hindemith had been labelled a degenerate artist by the Nazis. Furtwängler also conducted a piece of Hindemith's, Mathis der Maler although the work had been banned by the Nazis. The concert received enormous acclaim. This unleashed a political storm. The Nazis (especially Alfred Rosenberg the Nazi Party's chief racial theorist) formed a violent conspiracy against the conductor, who resigned from his official positions, including his titles as vice-president of the Reichsmusikkammer and of Staatsrat of Prussia (his resignation from the latter position was refused by Göring). He was then forced by Goebbels to give up all his artistic positions.
Furtwängler decided to leave his country and continue his career in Austria and Switzerland. But the Nazis prevented him from leaving Germany. The Nazis seized the opportunity offered by his absence at the head of the Berlin Philarmonic to "aryanize" the orchestra and its administrative staff. Most of the Jewish musicians of the orchestra had already left the country and found positions outside Germany with Furtwängler's assistance. The main target of the Nazis was Berta Geissmar, Furtwängler's Jewish assistant during the period 1915–1935. She was so close to the conductor that she wrote in her book about Furtwängler that the Nazis had begun an investigation to know if she was his mistress. Winifred Wagner had told the Nazi leaders that Furtwängler was not able to make decisions himself and completely relied for his decisions on his mother and above all on Berta Geissmar. Consequently, they made efforts to separate Furtwängler from his secretary. After having harassed her for a period of two years, she moved to London when she became Sir Thomas Beecham's main assistant. She said on the book she wrote on Furtwängler in England in 1943:
Furtwängler, although he had decided to remain in Germany, was certainly no Nazi [...] He had a private telephone line to me which was not connected via the exchange [...] Before going to bed, he used to chat with me over telephone. Sometimes I told him amusing stories to cheer him up, sometimes we talked about politics. One of the main threats the Nazis used against Furtwängler and myself later on was the assertion that they had recorded all these conversations. I should not have thought that it was possible! Was there enough shellac? If the Nazis really did this, their ears must certainly have burnt, and it was not surprising that Furtwängler was eventually put on their black list, let alone myself.
Goebbels refused to meet Furtwängler to clarify his situation for several months. During the same period, many members of the orchestra and of his public were begging him not to emigrate and desert them. In addition, Goebbels sent him a clear signal that if he left Germany he would never be allowed back, frightening him with the prospect of permanent separation from his mother (to whom he was very close) and from his children. The situation was thus very different from Arturo Toscanini's, since Toscanini was allowed to visit his family every year in Italy and his family was not in danger. The fact that Furtwängler considered himself also responsible for the Berlin Philarmonic and for his family played a major role in his final decision to remain in Germany.
The compromise of 1935
On February 28, 1935, Goebbels agreed to meet Furtwängler. Goebbels wanted to keep Furtwängler in Germany by any means since he considered him as Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner as a "national treasure". Goebbels asked him first to publicly pledge allegiance to the new regime. Furtwängler refused (this is proved by different letters between him and Goebbels found by historians such as Fred K. Priekberg). Goebbels proposed that if Furtwängler acknowledged publicly that Hitler was in charge of cultural policy in Germany, it would be sufficient. Furtwängler accepted: Hitler was a dictator and controlled everything in the country. But he added that it must be perfectly clear that he wanted to have nothing to do with this cultural policy and that if he stayed, he would remain as a non-political artist without any official position. The agreement was reached. Goebbels made an announcement declaring that Furtwängler's article on Hindemith had no political content: Furtwängler had spoken only from an artistic point of view and it was Hitler who was in charge of the cultural policy in Germany. Goebbels did not mention anything about the second part of the deal. However, the agreement between was, to a large extent, respected since, at his denazification trial, Furtwängler was charged with conducting only two official concerts for the period 1933–1945, and he appears in only two short propaganda films of five and ten minutes respectively. Other Nazi leaders were not satisfied with the announcement, since they believed that Furtwängler had not capitulated. This is the reason why Rosenberg demanded in vain that Furtwängler offers his apologies to the new regime. On the other hand, Goebbels, who wanted to keep Furtwängler in Germany, wrote on his diary that he was very satisfied with the deal and laughed at "the incredible naïvety of the artists".
Furtwängler wrote again to Hitler, who allowed him to have a new passport and granted him a meeting in April: in that meeting Hitler attacked Furtwängler implicitly for his support of modern music, and made him withdraw from regular conducting for the time being save for his scheduled appearance at Bayreuth. However, Hitler confirmed that Furtwängler would, in future, not be given any official assignements, and would be treated as a private individual. But Hitler refused to publicise this as requested by Furtwängler, saying that it would be harmful for the "prestige of the State".
Furtwängler resumed his conducting activities, although he had no official position anymore. On April 25, 1935, he gave his first concert with the Berlin Philharmonic with a program dedicated to Beethoven. The concert was a huge success, since a large part of the public had boycotted the orchestra during his absence. He was called out seventeen times. But on May 3, in his dressing room before conducting the same program, he was informed that Hitler and his entire staff would attend the concert. He received the order to welcome Hitler with the Nazi salute. Furtwängler was so furious that he ripped the wooden panelling off a radiator. Franz Jastrau, the intendant of the orchestra, suggested that he keep his baton in his right hand all the time. When he entered the hall, all the Nazi leaders were present making the Hitler salute, but Furtwängler kept hold of his baton and began the concert immediately. Hitler probably could not have imagined that such an affront was possible but decided to put up a good show: he sat down and the concert went on. At the end of the concert, Furtwängler continued to keep his baton in his right hand. Hitler understood the situation and jumped up and demonstratively held out his right hand to him. The same situation occurred during another concert later on, when a photographer had been mobilized by the Nazis for the occasion: the photo of the famous handshake between Furtwängler and Hitler was distributed everywhere by Goebbels. Goebbels had obtained what he desired: to keep Furtwängler in Germany and to give the impression to those who were not well informed (especially outside the country) that Furtwängler was now a supporter of the regime.
Furtwängler had not changed at all: he wrote on his diary in 1935 that there is a complete contradiction between the racial ideology of the Nazis and the true German culture, the one of Schiller, Goethe and Beethoven, adding in 1936 : "living today is more than ever a question of courage".
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra
On September 1935, Oskar Jölli, a baritone member of the Nazi party reported to the gestapo that Furtwängler had said publicly that "Those in power should all be shot, and things in Germany would not change untill this was done". Hitler forbade him to conduct for several months, until Furtwängler's fiftieth birthday in January 1936. Hitler and Goebbels allowed him to conduct again and offered him presents: Hitler an annual pension of 40,000 Reichsmarks and Goebbels an ornate baton made of gold and ivory. Furtwängler refused these presents.
Furtwängler attempted to obtain an audience with Hitler to discuss his return to the Berlin State Opera. Before the meeting could take place, he was offered the principal conductor's post at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which was then the most desirable and best paid post in international musical life. He was to have succeeded Arturo Toscanini, who had declared that Furtwängler was the only man to succeed him. Furtwängler accepted the post, but his telephone conversations were recorded by the Gestapo.
While Furtwängler was on a boat travelling to Egypt, a report from the Berlin branch of the Associated Press, ordered by Hermann Göring, leaked a news story. It suggested that the complete rehabilitation of Furtwängler was probably imminent, and he would be officially reappointed as director of the Berlin State Opera and of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This caused the mood in New York to turn against him; from their point of view, it seemed that Furtwängler was now a full supporter of the Nazi Party. In addition, Furtwängler was "personally unpopular" in the American musical world. As explained in detail by D. Gillis in his book Furtwängler and America, a cabal had been organized by a part of the American musical world against him during his tours in 1925–27, not for political reasons, but to eliminate the him from competition with other conductors. In addition, Furtwängler, who had never shown any interest in socializing with high society, had made no effort to be accepted by the influential boards of the American orchestras. Because of this cabal, Furtwängler had refused to go back to America during the 1928-1932 period, although his concerts in America had been praised by the public. According to D. Gillis, it was the same group of people who amplified the effect of Göring's announcement. On seeing the American newspapers at his arrival at Cairo, Furtwängler preferred to give up his plan to accept the position in New York. Nor did accept any position at the Berlin Opera.
Furtwängler participated in the Bayreuth festival in 1936 for the first time since 1931, in spite of his poor relationship with Winifred Wagner. Hitler and Goebbels attended the festival and attempted to force him to accept again to accept an official position. Friedelind Wagner, the composer's anti-Nazi granddaughter, witnessed a meeting between Hitler and Furtwängler at her mother's Bayreuth home:
I remember Hitler turning to Furtwängler and telling him that he would have now to allow himself to be used by the party for propaganda purposes, and I remember that Furtwängler refused categorically. Hitler flew into a fury and and told Furtwängler that in that case there would be a concentration camp ready for him. Furtwängler quietly replied: "In that case, Herr Reichschancellor, at least I will be in very good company." Hitler couldn't even answer, and vanished from the room.
During the following summer, to avoid the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Furtwängler disappeared in the mountains. He also canceled all his public engagements during the following winter season to spend some time in absolute peace to compose.
Furtwängler resumed his conducting activities with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1937. He gave several important concerts, in London for the Coronation of George VI, and in Paris for the universal exposition where the public could see that he refused to conduct the Horst-Wessel-Lied and to attend the political speeches of the German officials. The Salzburg Festival was during that time considered as a festival of the "free world" and a centre for anti-fascist artists such as Toscanini. Hitler had forbidden all the German musicians to go there. In 1937, Furtwängler was asked to conduct Beethoven's ninth symphony in Salzburg. Despite strong opposition from Hitler and Goebbels, Furtwängler accepted the invitation. Toscanini, who had not forgiven Furtwängler for not having accepted his succession in New York, was furious to learn that Furtwängler would also participate in the Festival. He decided not to come to Salzburg but, after Bruno Walter's intervention, he finally accepted to conduct in Salzburg on the condition that he would not have to meet Furtwängler. But since the town is small, the encounter occurred. Toscanini told him first : "you are a Nazi!". "That is a lie" protested Furtwängler, "I am the same man as I was six months ago when you reproached me for not accepting your invitation to come to New York". Toscanini replied: "I know quite well that you are not a member of the Party. I am also aware that you have helped your Jewish friends [...] But everyone who conducts in the Third Reich is a Nazi!". Furtwängler emphatically denied this and said: "By that, you imply that art and music are merely propaganda, a false front, as it were, for any Government which happens to be in power. If a Nazi Government is in power, then, as a conductor, I am a Nazi; under the communists, I would be a Communist; under the democrats, a democrat... No, a thousand times no! Music belongs to a different world, and is above chance political events." Toscanini disagreed and that ended the discussion.
During the same year, Furtwängler participated in the Bayreuth festival and his relationship with Winifred Wagner was worse than ever. After the festival he refused to accept any future engagements and did not appear in Bayreuth until 1943. He wrote a letter to Winifred Wagner with copies to Hitler, Göring and Goebbels accusing her of having betrayed Wagner's heritage by applying racial and not artistic rules in the choice of the artists and because she had put her "trust in the powers of an authoritarian state". This accusation targeted Hitler himself, who reacted very sharply and wanted to drop Furtwängler from Bayreuth after all.
As stated by the historian Fred Prieberg, at the end of 1937, nobody who was correctly informed could accuse Furtwängler of working "for the brown barbarians". For the Nazi leaders, especially for Hitler, it became necessary to prove to him that he was not indispensable and irreplaceable, i.e. to find him a replacement.
Herbert von Karajan's appearance
The Nazi leaders had been searching for another conductor in the past who could counterbalance Furtwängler's influence. A young, gifted conductor coming from Austria had appeared in the Third Reich: Herbert von Karajan. Furtwängler had attended several of his concerts praising his technical gifts but criticizing his style of conducting. At that time, Furtwängler did not consider him as a dangerous competitor. However, when Karajan conducted successfully Fidelio in Berlin on 30 September 1938, Göring decided to take the initiative. Karajan had joined the Nazi Party early and was much more willing to participate in the propaganda of the new regime than his old colleague. On October 21, Karajan was conducting Tristan und Isolde at the Staatsoper and a plot had been organized by Göring. An article was written by Edwin von der Nüll, a journalist manipulated by Göring. Its title "the Karajan miracle" was a direct reference to the famous article "the Furtwängler miracle" that had made Furtwängler famous when he was a young conductor in Mannheim. Von der Nüll emphasized the supposed superiority of Karajan saying "A thirty-year-old man creates a performance for which our great fifty-year-olds, can justifiably envy him". To be sure that everybody would understand who was the "great fifty-year-olds", Furtwängler's photo had been added. The article was just part of a large-scale attack on Furtwängler. The Nazi press criticized the old concuctor for being "a man of the Nineteenth century" whose political ideas were obsolete and who did not understand and accept the new changes in Germany. The situation became intolerable for him and he obtained from Goebbels an undertaking that this bashing would be stopped.
It has often been said that the opposition between Furtwängler and Karajan was a reflection of the competition between Goebbels and Göring to control the cultural life of the Third Reich. But this is true only to a limited extent. This competition had been organized because of the necessity for the German leaders, above all Hitler, to counterbalance Furtwängler's influence. The plot reached its goal since Furtwängler's position was weakened: he knew that if he left Germany, Karajan would become immediately the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. It was the beginning of an obsessive hate and contempt for Karajan that never left him until his death. He often refused to call Karajan by his name, calling him simply "Herr K". Hitler concluded the matter by saying that even if Furtwängler was infinitely better than Karajan as a conductor, it was necessary to keep Karajan "in reserve" since Furtwängler was "not politically trustworthy".
The Kristallnacht and the Anschluss
Several witnesses testified that Furtwängler was very affected by the Kristallnacht that had occurred on 10 November 1938. Berta Geissmar who met him in Paris described him as "greatly depressed" and Friedelind Wagner who saw him also in Paris as a "very unhappy man". Andrew Schulhof who met him in Budapest said that he was completely lost: "he had the impression that what he had done before for his Jewish friends had been lost".
Furtwängler, like most Germans, approved of the Anschluss that had occurred on 12 March 1938. But he quickly disagreed with the Nazi leaders' decision to "annex Austrian culture", e.g. to abolish any independent cultural activity in Austria and to subordinate it to Berlin. Goebbels wanted to eliminate the Vienna Philharmonic, and to convert the Vienna Opera and the Salzburg Festival into branches of the Berlin Opera and the Bayreuth Festival respectively. In addition, he wished to confiscate the largest musical collection in the world belonging to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreude in Vienna and to remove it to Berlin. Hitler's goal was to deny that Austria had developed its own culture independently of Germany. Austrian musical circles asked Furtwängler, who was the honorary president of the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreude, to help them.
Furtwängler organized a campaign to convince Nazi leaders to abandon their plans. According to the historian Fred K. Prieberg, this is why he conducted concerts (often with the Vienna Philharmonic) in the presence of German leaders during this period - in exchange for the conservation of the orchestra. He organized several concerts in Berlin and Vienna for Hitler with a programme made only of Austrian music, to emphasize the importance of Austrian culture.
Just after the Anschluss, Furtwängler discovered that a huge Swastika flag was displayed in the hall of the Musikverein. He refused to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic "as long as the rag is visible". The flag was finally removed.
He also conducted on November 1940 in Prague. The first item for this program, chosen by Furtwängler, was Smetana's Moldau. According to Fred K. Prieberg, "This piece is part of the cycle in which the Czech master celebrated 'Má vlast (My Country), and at the time it was composed, in the second half of the nineteenth century, was intended to support his compatriots' fight for the independence from Austria domination [...] When Furtwängler began with the 'Moldau' it was not a deliberate risk, but a statement of his stance towards the oppressed Czechs".
The Nazi leadership, who wanted to take advantage of the situation in Vienna, invited Furtwängler in 1938 to conduct Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Vienna Philharmonic in Nürnberg for the Nazi party congress. Furtwängler replied in a telegram that he accepted to conduct, but not during the party congress. Hitler eventually accepted Furtwängler's conditions. The concert took place on 5 September and the political event was formally opened the following morning. This concert, along with one given in Berlin in 1942 for Hitler's birthday, led to heavy criticism for Furtwängler after the war. However, Furtwängler managed not to participate in the party congress; he also succeeded in conserving the Vienna Philharmonic, and the musical collections of Vienna and the Vienna Opera. For the latter he persuaded Hitler and Goebbels to agree to the appointment of Karl Böhm as the artistic director. Regarding the Vienna Philharmonic, Furtwängler succeeded in keeping, as for the Berlin Philharmonic, 'half-Jews' or members with 'non-aryan' wives until the end of the war (this was as an exceptional case in Germany during the Nazi period). However, unlike the Berlin Philharmonic, he could not save the lives of 'full-blooded' Jews: they all died in concentration camps during the war.
Goebbels was satisfied that Furtwängler had conducted the concerts in Vienna, Prague and Nürnberg, thinking that these concerts gave a "cultural" justification to the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia. This is the reason why he said during this period that Furtwängler was "willing to place himself at my disposal for any of my activities", describing him as "an out-and-out chauvinist". On the other hand, he regularly complained that Furtwängler was constantly helping Jews, 'half-Jews', etc. (his complaints continued during the war). Goebbels understood (he wrote it explicitly in his diary) that Furtwängler's ultimate goal was to bypass Nazi cultural policy. For instance, Goebbels wrote that Furtwängler wanted to support the Salzburg festival to counterbalance the Bayreuth festival that had become a keystone of the Nazi regime.
Furtwängler was very affected by the fight against Karajan and for the survival of the Austrian cultural life, the Kristallnacht, and so on. Fred K. Prieberg describes Furtwängler in 1939 as a "broken man".
The French government awarded him the Legion of Honour in 1939, although the situation between Germany and western democracies was already very tense. This may support the theory that western diplomatic services knew that Furtwängler was not a supporter of the nazi regime. Hitler forbade news of the award to be spread in Germany.
World War II
Furtwängler was treated well by the Nazis. He had a high profile, and was an important cultural figure, as evidenced by his inclusion in the Gottbegnadeten list ("God-gifted List") of September 1944 - however, his name was removed from this list on December 7, 1944 because of his relationships with German resistance. Hitler, in gratitude for Furtwängler's refusal to leave Berlin, even when it was being bombed by the allies, ordered Albert Speer to build a special air raid shelter for the conductor and his family. Furtwängler refused this, but the shelter was nevertheless built in the house against the owner's will.
After the fall of France, Furtwängler said: "I will never play in a country such as France, I am so much attached to, considering myself as a 'vaincor'. I will conduct there again only when the country has been liberated". He refused to go to France during the occupation of that country, although the Nazis tried to force him to conduct there. Since he had said that he would conduct in France only if he was invited by the French, Goebbels forced the French conductor Charles Munch to send him a personal invitation during the war. But Munch wrote in small characters at the bottom of his letter "in agreement with the German occupation authorities." Furtwängler declined the invitation.
During the war, Furtwängler tried to avoid conducting in occupied Europe. However, he did conduct in Prague in 1940 and again in March 1944 in a concert marking the fifth anniversary of the German occupation; where he played Slavonic music (Má vlast (My Country) of Bedřich Smetana in 1940 and the Symphony No. 9 of Antonín Dvořák in 1944) and in Oslo in 1943 where he helped the Jewish conductor Issay Dobrowen to flee to Sweden.
He conducted during the war in Denmark and in unoccupied countries such as Sweden and Switzerland. His concerts were often broadcast to German troops to raise morale, though he was limited in what he was allowed to perform by the authorities. He later said that he had tried to protect German culture from the Nazis. It is now known that he used his influence to help Jewish musicians and non-musicians escape the Third Reich. He managed, for example, to have Max Zweig, a nephew of conductor Fritz Zweig, released from Dachau concentration camp. Others, from an extensive list of Jews he helped, included Carl Flesch, Josef Krips and the composer Arnold Schönberg. Goebbels wrote in two entries of his diary in 1937 that Furtwängler was constantly helping Jews, "half-Jews" and "his small Hindemith". He also refused to participate in the film Philharmoniker, a film that was intended to fulfill propaganda purposes and, in particular, to compete with the American movie Fantasia. Goebbels wanted Furtwängler as the key protagonist since the theme of the movie was his orchestra. Furtwängler categorically declined to offer to take part of this project. The film was finished in December 1943 showing many of the conductors connected with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, including Eugen Jochum, Karl Böhm, Hans Knappertsbusch, and Richard Strauss, but not Furtwängler. Goebbels asked also Furtwängler to direct the music in a Beethoven film again for propaganda purposes. The quarralled violently about this project. Furtwängler told him "You are wrong, Herr Minister, if you think you can exploit Beethoven in a film." With that he left the Propaganda Minister's office and Goebbels gave up his plans for the Beethoven film.
In April 1944, Goebbels wrote:
Furtwängler has never been a National Socialist. Nor has he ever made any bones about it. Which Jews and emigrants thought was sufficient to consider him as one of them, a key representative of so-called 'inner emigration'. Furtwängler['s] stance towards us has not changed in the least.
Friedelind Wagner (an outspoken opponent of the Third Reich) reported a conversation with her mother Winifred Wagner during the war, to the effect that Hitler did not trust or like Furtwängler, and that Göring and Goebbels were upset with Furtwängler's continuous support for his "undesirable friends". In 1944, he was the only prominent German artist who refused to sign the brochure 'We Stand and Fall with Adolf Hitler'. Albert Speer claimed that in December 1944 Furtwängler asked whether Germany had any chance of winning the war. Speer replied in the negative, and advised the conductor to flee to Switzerland from possible Nazi retribution. Furtwängler had strong links to the German resistance which organized the 20 July plot against Hitler. Furtwängler stated during his denazification trial that he knew an attack was being organized against Hitler, although he did not participate in its organization. He knew Claus von Stauffenberg very well and his Doctor, Dr. Johannes Ludwig Schmitt, who wrote him many false health prescriptions to bypass official requirements, was a member of the Kreisau Circle. Furtwängler's concerts had been chosen by the members of the German resistance as their meeting point. Rudolf Pechel who belonged to the group of resistants who organized the 20 July plot said to Furtwängler after the war: "In the circle of our resistance movement it was an accepted fact that you were the only one in the whole of our musical world who really resisted, and you were one of us." In the same manner, Graf Kaunitz, also a member of that circle and a violent opponent of Hitler, stated: "In Furtwängler's concerts we were one big family of the resistance."
Grove Online states that he was "within a few hours of being arrested " by the Gestapo when he escaped to Switzerland after a concert in Vienna with the Vienna Philharmonic on January 28, 1945. The Nazis had begun to crack down on German liberals at this time. At that concert he conducted an account of Brahms's Second Symphony that was caught on tape and is considered one of his greatest recordings.
Post World War II
At his denazification trial, Furtwängler was charged with having conducted two Nazi concerts during the period 1933–1945. The first was for the Hitler Youth on 3 February 1938. It was part of a series of concerts presented to Furtwängler as a way to acquaint the younger generation with classical music. According to Fred Prieberg: "when he looked at the audience he realized that this was more than just a concert for school kids in uniform; a whole collection of prominent political figures were sitting there as well [...] and it was the last time he raised his baton for this purpose".
The second concert was a performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Vienna Philharmonic on 5 September 1938, on the evening before the Nazi congress in Nüremberg. Furtwängler had agreed to conduct this concert to preserve the Vienna Philharmonic, which the Nazis wanted to eliminate, but had required that the concert not be part of the Nazi congress, and this is why the political event only formally opened the following morning.
He was charged also for his honorific title of Staatsrat of Prussia (he had resigned from this title in 1934, but the Nazis had refused his resignation) and with making an anti-semitic remark against the part-Jewish conductor Victor de Sabata. The judge, Alex Vogel, well known for being a communist, started the trial with the following statement:
"The investigations showed that Furtwängler had not been a member of any [Nazi] organization, that he tried to help people persecuted because of their race, and that he also avoided ... formalities such as giving the Hitler salute."
At the end of the trial, musicians certified that Furtwängler helped many people during Nazi era such as Hugo Strelitzer, who declared:
If I am alive today, I owe this to this great man. Furtwängler helped and protected a great number of Jewish musicians and this attitude shows a great deal of courage since he did it under the eyes of the Nazis, in Germany itself. History will be his judge.
As part of his closing remarks at his denazification trial, Furtwängler said,
I knew Germany was in a terrible crisis; I felt responsible for German music, and it was my task to survive this crisis, as much as I could. The concern that my art was misused for propaganda had to yield to the greater concern that German music be preserved, that music be given to the German people by its own musicians. These people, the compatriots of Bach and Beethoven, of Mozart and Schubert, still had to go on living under the control of a regime obsessed with total war. No one who did not live here himself in those days can possibly judge what it was like. Does Thomas Mann [who was critical of Furtwängler's actions] really believe that in 'the Germany of Himmler' one should not be permitted to play Beethoven? Could he not realize that people never needed more, never yearned more to hear Beethoven and his message of freedom and human love, than precisely these Germans, who had to live under Himmler’s terror? I do not regret having stayed with them.
He was eventually cleared on all the counts.
The violinist Yehudi Menuhin was, with Arnold Schoenberg, Bronisław Huberman and Nathan Milstein, among the Jewish musicians who had a positive view of Furtwängler. In 1933 Menuhin had refused to play with him, but in the late 1940s, after a personal investigation of Furtwängler, he changed his opinion, and performed and recorded alongside him.
Unless you have secret incriminating evidence against Furtwängler supporting your accusation that he was a tool of Nazi Party, I beg to take violent issue with your decision to ban him. The man never was a Party member. Upon numerous occasions, he risked his own safety and reputation to protect friends and colleagues. Do not believe that the fact of remaining in one's own country is alone sufficient to condemn a man. On the contrary, as a military man, you would know that remaining at one's post often requires greater courage than running away. He saved, and for that we are deeply his debtors, the best part of his own German culture. As for quote 'lending an aura of respectability to the Party', are we the Allies not infinitely more guilty and of our own free will by recognising and pactizing with these monsters when almost despite ourselves we were literally dragged and unchivalrously knocked into this struggle, except of course for Great Britain which declared war before being directly attacked. Remember Munich and Berchtesgaden and all the years when we all wantonly abandoned to their cruel fate every brave and hopeful heart, every valiant and defiant nation. I believe it patently unjust and most cowardly for us to make of Furtwängler a scapegoat for our own crimes. If the man is guilty of specific crimes, accuse him and convict him. As far as I can see, it is no punishment to be banned from sordid, filthy Berlin and if the man now old and ill is willing and anxious to return to his exacting task and responsibilities he should be encouraged for that is where he belongs, right in Berlin. If this diseased nation should ever grow up to become a self-respecting member of the community of nations, it will be due to the efforts of men like Furtwängler who have proven that they are able to rescue from the war at least part of their soul. Witness the Berlin Philharmonic. These men alone are able to build on this unsullied base a better society. It is not by stifling such men that you will achieve your aim. Quite the contrary you will only stir up a justifiable resentment against a vandalism as real as the more obvious variety which carves up churches and paintings [...]
In 1949 Furtwängler accepted the position of principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. However the orchestra was forced to rescind the offer under the threat of a boycott from several prominent musicians including Arturo Toscanini, George Szell, Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, Isaac Stern and Alexander Brailowsky. According to a New York Times report, Horowitz said that he "was prepared to forgive the small fry who had no alternative but to remain and work in Germany." But Furtwängler "was out of the country on several occasions and could have elected to keep out". Rubinstein likewise wrote in a telegram, "Had Furtwängler been firm in his democratic convictions he would have left Germany". Yehudi Menuhin was upset with this boycott, declaring that some of the main organizers had admitted to him having organized it only to eliminate Furtwängler's huge musical competition in North-America.
British playwright Ronald Harwood's play Taking Sides (1995), set in 1946 in the American zone of occupied Berlin, is about U.S. accusations against Furtwängler of having served the Nazi regime. In 2001 the play was made into a motion picture directed by István Szabó and starring Harvey Keitel and featuring Stellan Skarsgård in the role of Furtwängler.
Furtwängler had a unique conducting technique. He saw symphonic music as creations of nature that could only be realised subjectively into sound. Composers such as Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner were central to Furtwängler's repertoire, and he identified them as great forces of nature. He disliked Toscanini's approach to the German repertoire. He walked out of a Toscanini concert once, calling him "a mere time-beater!".
Neville Cardus wrote in the Manchester Guardian in 1954 of Furtwängler's conducting style:
He did not regard the printed notes of the score as a final statement, but rather as so many symbols of an imaginative conception, ever changing and always to be felt and realised subjectively...Not since Nikisch, of whom he was a disciple, has a greater personal interpreter of orchestral and opera music than Furtwängler been heard.
And the conductor Henry Lewis:
I admire Furtwängler for his originality and honesty. He liberated himself from slavery to the score ; he realized that notes printed in the score, are nothing but SYMBOLS. The score is neither the essence nor the spirit of the music. Furtwängler had this very rare and great gift of going beyond the printed score and showing what music really was.
Many commentators and critics regard him as the greatest conductor in history. In his book on the symphonies of Johannes Brahms, musicologist Walter Frisch writes that Furtwängler's recordings show him to be "the finest Brahms conductor of his generation, perhaps of all time", demonstrating "at once a greater attention to detail and to Brahms' markings than his contemporaries and at the same time a larger sense of rhythmic-temporal flow that is never deflected by the individual nuances. He has an ability not only to respect, but to make musical sense of, dynamic markings and the indications of crescendo and diminuendo[...]. What comes through amply ... is the rare combination of a conductor who understands both sound and structure." He notes Vladimir Ashkenazy who says that his sound "is never rough. It's very weighty but at the same time is never heavy. In his fortissimo you always feel every voice.... I have never heard so beautiful a fortissimo in an orchestra", and Daniel Barenboim says he "had a subtlety of tone color that was extremely rare. His sound was always 'rounded,' and incomparably more interesting than that of the great German conductors of his generation."
On the other hand, the critic David Hurwitz, a spokesman for modern literalism and precision, sharply criticizes what he terms "the Furtwängler wackos" who "will forgive him virtually any lapse, no matter how severe", and characterizes the conductor himself as "occasionally incandescent but criminally sloppy".
I am told that the more you rehearse, the better you play. This is wrong. We often try to reduce the unforeseen to a controllable level, to prevent a sudden impulse that escapes our ability to control, yet also responds to an obscure desire. Let's allow improvisation to have its place and play its role. I think that the true interpreter is the one who improvises. We have mechanized the art of conducting to an awful degree, in the quest of perfection rather than of dream [...] As soon as rubato is obtained and calculated scientifically, it ceases to be true. Music making is something else than searching to achieve an accomplishment. But striving to attain it is beautiful. Some of Michelangelo's sculptures are perfect, others are just outlined and the latter ones move me more than the first perfect ones because here I find the essence of desire, of the wakening dream. That's what really moves me: fixing without freezing in cement, allowing chance its opportunity.
Instead of perfection in details, Furtwängler was looking for the spiritual in art. Sergiu Celibidache explained,
Everybody was influenced at the time by Arturo Toscanini - it was easy to understand what he was trying to do: you didn't need any reference to spiritual dimension. There was a certain order in the way the music was presented. With Toscanini I never felt anything spiritual. With Furtwängler on the other hand, I understood that there I was confronted by something completely different: metaphysics, transcendence, the relationship between sounds and sonorities [...] Furtwängler was not only a musician, he was a creator [...] What happens to those who don't understand the manifold variety of musical performance? Who are unable to hear that famous astral octave because they are deaf to music? Then their integration is related only to a part of a musical score, to the least important one, the raw material. But that's precisely what music is not about [...] Then you find each tempo too slow. Because the slowness or fastness are determined by the complexity of these musical manifestations. Furtwängler had the ear for it: not the physical ear, but the spiritual ear that captures these parallel movements.
Conductor and pianist Christoph Eschenbach has said of Furtwängler that he was a "formidable magician, a man capable of setting an entire ensemble of musicians on fire, sending them into a state of ecstasy".
Furtwängler was famous for his exceptional inarticulacy. His pupil Sergiu Celibidache remembered that the best he could say was, "Well, just listen" (to the music). Carl Brinitzer from the German BBC service tried to interview him, and thought he had an imbecile before him. A live recording of a rehearsal with a Stockholm orchestra documents hardly anything intelligible, only hums and mumbling. On the other hand, a collection of his essays, On Music, reveals deep thought. Furtwängler remained highly respected amongst musicians. Even Arturo Toscanini, usually regarded as Furtwängler's complete antithesis (and sharply critical of Furtwängler on political grounds), once said – when asked to name the World's greatest conductor apart from himself – "Furtwängler!"
Furtwängler's art of conducting is considered as the synthesis and the peak of the so-called "Germanic school of conducting". This "school" was initiated by Richard Wagner. Unlike Mendelssohn's conducting style, which was "characterized by quick, even tempos and imbued with what many people regarded as model logic and precision [...], Wagner's way was broad, hyper-romantic and embraced the idea of tempo modulation". Wagner considered an interpretation as a re-creation and put more emphasis on the phrase than on the measure. The fact that the tempo was changing was not something new; Beethoven himself interpreted his own music with a lot of freedom. Beethoven wrote: "my tempi are valid only for the first bars, as feeling and expression must have their own tempo", and "why do they annoy me by asking for my tempi? Either they are good musicians and ought to know how to play my music, or they are bad musicians and in that case my indications would be of no avail". Beethoven's disciples, such as Anton Schindler, testified that the composer varied the tempo when he conducted his works. Wagner's tradition was followed by the first two permanent conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic. Hans von Bülow highlighted more the unitary structure of symphonic works, while Arthur Nikisch stressed the magnificence of tone. The styles of these two conductors were synthesized by Furtwängler.
In Munich (1907-1909), Furtwängler studied with Felix Mottl, a disciple of Wagner. He considered Arthur Nikisch as his model. According to John Ardoin, Wagner's subjective style of conducting led to Furtwängler and Mendelssohn's objective style of conducting led to Toscanini.
Furtwängler's art was deeply influenced by the great Jewish music theorist Heinrich Schenker with whom he worked between 1920 and Schenker's death in 1935. Schenker was the founder of musical analysis (called the Schenkerian analysis), emphasizing underlying long-range harmonic tensions and resolutions in a piece of music. Furtwängler read Schenker's famous monograph on Beethoven's Ninth symphony in 1911, subsequently trying to find and read all his books. Furtwängler met Schenker in 1920, and they continuously worked together on the repertoire which Furtwängler conducted. Schenker never secured an academic position in Austria and Germany, in spite of Furtwängler's efforts to support him. Schenker depended on several patrons including Furtwängler. Furtwängler's second wife certified much later that Schenker had an immense influence on her husband. Schenker considered Furtwängler as the greatest conductor in the world and as the "only conductor who truly understood Beethoven".
Furtwängler's recordings are characterized by an "extraordinary sound wealth ", special emphasis being placed on cellos, doubles basses, percussion and woodwind instruments. According to Furtwängler, he learned how to obtain this kind of sound from Arthur Nikisch. This richness of sound is partly due to his "vague" beat, often called a "fluid beat". This fluid beat created slight gaps between the sounds made by the musicians, allowing listeners to distinguish all the instruments in the orchestra, even in tutti sections. Vladimir Ashkenazy once said: "I never heard such beautiful fortissimi as Furtwängler's." According to Yehudi Menuhin, Furtwängler's fluid beat was more difficult but superior than Toscanini's very precise beat. Unlike Otto Klemperer, Furtwängler did not try to suppress emotion in performance, instead giving a hyper romantic aspect to his interpretations. The emotional intensity of his World War II recordings is particularly famous. He desired to retain an element of improvisation and of the unexpected in his concerts, each interpretation being conceived as a re-creation. However, melodic line as well as the global unity were never lost with Furtwängler, even in the most dramatic interpretations, partly due to the influence of Heinrich Schenker and to the fact that Furtwängler was a composer and had studied composition during his whole life.
One of Furtwängler's protégés was the pianist prodigy Karlrobert Kreiten who was killed by the Nazis in 1943 because he had criticized Hitler. He was an important influence on the pianist/conductor Daniel Barenboim, of whom Furtwängler's widow, Elisabeth Furtwängler, said, "Er furtwänglert" ("He furtwänglers"). Barenboim has conducted a recording of Furtwängler's 2nd Symphony, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Other conductors known to speak admiringly of Furtwängler include Valery Gergiev, Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, Carlo Maria Giulini, Simon Rattle, Sergiu Celibidache, Otto Klemperer, Karl Böhm, Christoph Eschenbach, Alexander Frey, Eugen Jochum, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Christian Thielemann. For instance, Carlos Kleiber thought that "nobody could equal Furtwängler".  George Szell, whose precise musicianship was in many ways antithetical to Furtwängler's, always kept a picture of Furtwängler in his dressing room. Herbert von Karajan, who in his early years was Furtwängler's rival, maintained throughout his life that Furtwängler was one of the great influences on his music making, even though his cool, objective, modern style had little in common with Furtwängler's white-hot Romanticism. Karajan said:
He certainly had an enormous influence on me [...] I remember that when I was Generalmusikdirektor in Aachen, a friend invited me to a concert that Furtwängler gave in Cologne [...] Furtwängler's performance of the Robert Schumann's Fourth, which I didn't know at the time, opened up a new world for me. I was deeply impressed. I didn't want to forget this concert, so I immediately returned to Aachen.
The conductor who most clearly represented a continuity with Furtwängler's incandescent style was Jascha Horenstein; he had worked as an assistant to Furtwängler in Berlin during the 1920s.
Furtwängler's performances of Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner, and Brahms remain important reference points today, as do his interpretations of other works such as Haydn's 88th Symphony, Schubert's Ninth Symphony, and Schumann's Fourth Symphony. His performances are grounded in the spontaneous flexibility that Wagner referred to as the "elastic phrase".
The musicians who have expressed the highest opinion about Furtwängler are some of the most prominent ones of the 20th century such as Arnold Schönberg, Paul Hindemith, or Arthur Honegger. Soloists such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Yehudi Menuhin Pablo Casals and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf who have played music with almost all the major conductors of the 20th century have clearly declared upon several occasions that, for them, Furtwängler was the most important one. John Ardoin has reported the following discussion he has had with Maria Callas in August 1968 after having listened to Beethoven's Eight with the Cleveland orchestra conducted by George Szell:
"Well", she sighed, "you see what we have been reduced to. We are now in a time when a Szell is considered a master. How small he was next to Furtwängler." Reeling this disbelief - not at her verdict, with which I agreed, but from the unvarnished acuteness of it - I stammered, "But how do you know Furtwängler? You never sang with him." "How do you think?" she stared at me with equal disbelief. "He started his career after the war in Italy [in 1947]. I heard dozens of his concerts there. To me, he was Beethoven."
There are a huge number of Furtwängler recordings currently available, mostly live. Many of these were made during World War II using experimental tape technology. After the war they were confiscated by the Soviet Union for decades, and have only recently become widely available, often on multiple legitimate and illegitimate labels. In spite of their limitations, the recordings from this era are widely admired by Furtwängler devotees.
This is only a small selection of some of Furtwängler's most famed recordings. For more information, see his discography and list of currently available recordings. The French Wilhelm Furtwängler Society also has a list of recommended recordings.
- Johann Sebastian Bach, St Matthew Passion (first half only), live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, 1952 (SWF)
- Bartók, Violin Concerto No. 2, studio recording with Yehudi Menuhin and with the Philharmonia Orchestra, 1953 (EMI)
- Beethoven, Third Symphony, live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, December 1944 (Music and Arts, Preiser, Tahra)
About this recording, often considered as one of the most important ones of the 20th century, John Ardoin wrote: "The magnificent 1944 performance with the Vienna Philharmonic [is] an authenticated performance that is not only Furtwängler's noblest and most compelling Eroica, but one unrivalled on disc".
And André Tubeuf:
A performance of prodigious classicism, it presents us with figures that seem to us to be made of stone by virtue of their nobility and of fire because of their compelling urgency, but which, on the wings of a scherzo at the pace of a march, suddently releases the infinite - placed on record.
- Beethoven, Third Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, December 1952 (Tahra)
- Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, June 1943 (Classica d'Oro, Deutsche Grammophon, Enterprise, Music and Arts, Opus Kura, Tahra)
- Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, Mai 1954 (Tahra)
- Beethoven, Sixth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, March 1944 (Tahra)
- Beethoven, Seventh Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, November 1943 (Classica d'Oro, Deutsche Grammophon, Music and Arts, Opus Kura)
Harry Halbreich wrote in his analysis of this performance:
Does the second movement remain an Allegretto under Furtwängler's baton? Many critics have raised this question, troubled by the spaciousness even more than in Berlin than in Vienna [in 1950]. And yet, why hesitate? From the first bars, this perfection overrules us - beyond doubt, this is humanely, organically the right tempo and it would be completely insensitive and unmusical to argue otherwise [...] Who could describe the incredible beauty of phrasing of the song of violas and cellos [...] the sublime expressiveness of the violins? [...] The second theme on its reappearance seems still more moving and expressive [...] This Finale was always one of Furtwängler's great warhorses and undoubtedly the summit of this interpretation [...] Furtwängler relives his unbelievable performance of the end of the Fifth Symphony in June 1943, four months before, launching into a break-taking acceleration without the unleashed forces ever escaping the control of the brilliant leader. "I am the Bacchus who distils the delicious nectar for mankind, and brings them to divine frenzy of the spirit": thus Beethoven explained himself. But it takes a demiurge like Furtwängler, that autumn day in 1943, to bring that frenzy to life in sound!"
- Beethoven, Ninth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, March 1942 (Classica d'Oro, Music and Arts, Opus Kura, Tahra, SWF)
Harry Halbreich wrote in his analysis of this performance that, for the first movement, "nobody has ever approached Furtwängler in the evocation of this terrifying release of cosmic forces" and about the Adagio: "in its superhuman spaciousness, which seems to seek to renounce human time and to align itself with that of creation, was not this Adagio the highest achievement of Wilhelm Furtwängler's art? Certainly no other conductor allowed himself such interpretative scope, and none put himself so much at risk. Yet on actual hearing the tempi prove so right, so natural lending themselves so perfectly to the whole presentation of the musical thought that one can hardly imagine anything different". For the Finale, he says: "from bar 321 Furtwängler imperiously asserts his presence with a gradual allargando building up to the colossal fortissimo of bar 330 followed by a timeless pause, a divine vision in which Beethoven, thanks to an interpreter worthy of him, equals the stature of the Michelangelo of the Sistine Chapel".
And Sami Habra wrote:
the 1942 performance in Berlin is one of the most convincing proofs of Furtwängler's rebellion during Germany's tragic era, while the nazis tried in vain to bury the great German musical heritage by using it for their sinister ends. Furtwängler fought for it and strived to save it from their cluthes.
- Beethoven, Ninth Symphony, live performance at the July 29, 1951 re-opening of Bayreuther Festspiele (not to be confused with EMI's release) with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elisabeth Höngen, Hans Hopf and Otto Edelmann. (Orfeo D'or, 2008).
Sami Habra wrote regarding this very famous concert:
Yet, after the war, he had to prove to the World that German musical Art had indeed survived that fateful period as well as some attempts by the Allies to ignore or undermine German culture. The whole musical world retained its breath while Beethoven was universally re-born when Furtwängler conducted the Ninth for the re-opening of Bayreuth in 1951.
- Beethoven, Ninth Symphony, ostensibly a live performance at the July 29, 1951 re-opening of Bayreuther Festspiele but purported by the President of the Wilhelm Furtwängler Society of America to actually be dress rehearsal takes edited by EMI into one recording, all performed prior to the actual public performance. (EMI, 1955).
- Beethoven, Ninth Symphony, live performance at the 1954 Lucerne Festival with the London Philharmonia, Lucerne Festival Choir, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elsa Cavelti, Ernst Haefliger and Otto Edelmann (Music and Arts, Tahra).
Sami Habra said:
The Lucerne 1954 concert, Furtwängler's last performance of the Ninth, allowed the listener an even deeper insight into the great conductor's art, the most important impression being that of abyssal depths that permeate this Swan song: no doubt Furtwängler sensed his end was near...
- Beethoven, Violin Concerto, studio recording with Yehudi Menuhin and with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, 1947 (Testament)
- Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5, studio recording with Edwin Fischer and with the Philharmonia Orchestra, 1951 (Naxos)
- Beethoven, Fidelio, live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Kirsten Flagstad, Anton Dermota, Julius Patzak, Paul Schoeffler, Josef Greindl, and Hans Braun, August 1950 (Opus Kura)
- Beethoven, Fidelio, both live and studio recordings, with Martha Mödl, his preferred soprano, in the title role, and Wolfgang Windgassen, Otto Edelmann, Gottlob Frick, Sena Jurinac, Rudolf Schock, Alfred Poell, Alwin Hendriks, Franz Bierbach, and the Vienna Philharmonic.
- Brahms, First Symphony, live performance with the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg, October 1951 (Music and Arts, Tahra)
Sami Habra wrote:
This Brahms 1st turned out to be Furtwängler's best version [...] More than ever, the broad opening, with the hammering of Friedrich Weber on the timpani and the soaring strings of that magnificent ensemble, impress the listener. The special quality of the string section, miraculously dense and transparent at the same time, permeates the whole work. The four great fortissimi of the first movement have an irresistible "élan", the long lyrical phrases of the second movement enchant the listener with their intensity. The third movement is Furtwängler at his most feverish here, and full of serenity is reached only after the repeated trumpet calls [...] The 4th movement is played with unmistakable grandeur and solemnity, as indeed the whole work is. While keeping Brahms' personality in mind, Furtwängler nevertheless brings out Beethoven's influence on Brahms [...] No wonder the French critics bestowed upon this recording the "Diapason d'Or of the century"....
- Brahms, Second Symphony, live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, January 1945 (Deutsche Grammophon, Music and Arts)
- Brahms, Third Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, December 1949 (EMI)
Sigurd Schimpf wrote:
Furtwängler's interpretations of Brahms go beyond the merely "composed" notation and realise the vision of the organic form that hovered before Brahms but can no longer be attained. Herein lies the explanation of the flawless formal architecture of his interpretations as well as the psychical compulsion of their musical performance that never becomes lost in detail but, to the contrary, always keeps the work as a whole in view. In this recording, notwithstanding his traditional interpretative style Furtwängler, unlike many a younger composer, lays more stress on the characteritics beyond the classical model symphony that herald the new trend: "Spiritual life" which Furtwängler traces and creates anew in each work - in this symphony, energetic and vigorous though it is, spiritual life is not concentrated on the dualism of the themes, the dramatic developement and the intensity of the finale, but above all on the variety of tone-colours which are here formative energy that puts a constantly changing complexion on the scarcely modulated themes and motifs and becomes the favourite means of musical expression."
- Brahms, Fourth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, December 1943 (Tahra, SWF)
- Brahms, Fourth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, October 1948 (EMI)
- Brahms, Violin Concerto, studio recording with Yehudi Menuhin and with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, 1949 (Tahra, Naxos)
- Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 2, live performance with Edwin Fischer and with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1942 (Testament)
- Bruckner, Fourth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, October 1941 (WFCJ)
- Bruckner, Fifth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, October 1942 (Classica d'Oro, Deutsche Grammophon, Music and Arts, Testament)
David Hurwitz wrote of this recording:
The interpretation is typically manic: very fast, and very slow. It lurches about impulsively and has thrilling moments–but also some pretty distressing examples of shoddy ensemble, particularly in the scherzo and finale. It was all too seldom that Furtwängler managed to keep his band together to allow him to time his climaxes optimally. A classic case of "overshoot" occurs at the end of the first movement, which sounds terribly rushed. The Adagio, though, is magnificent...
- Bruckner, Sixth Symphony (the first movement is missing), live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, November 1943 (Music and Arts)
- Bruckner, Seventh Symphony (adagio only), live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, April 1942 (Tahra)
Sami Habra wrote in 2005:
Furtwängler has always been Bruckner's greatest exponent [...] Again, the tragic element and grandeur are unequalled here. This is a "desert island" recording, fortunately restored for music lovers of this World to cherish all their life.
- Bruckner, Eighth Symphony, live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, October 1944 (Deutsche Grammophon, Music and Arts)
- Bruckner, Ninth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, October 1944 (Deutsche Grammophon)
- Franck, Symphony, live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, 1945 (SWF)
- Furtwängler, Second Symphony, live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, February 1953 (Orfeo)
- Gluck, Alceste Ouverture, studio recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, 1954 (SWF)
- Haendel, Concerto Grosso Opus 6 No. 10, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, February 1944 (Melodiya)
- Haendel, Concerto Grosso Opus 6 No. 10, live performance with the Teatro Colón Orchester, 1950 (Disques Refrain)
- Haydn, 88th Symphony, studio recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, 5 December 1951 (Deutsche Grammophon)
- Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, live performance with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Vienna Philharmonic, 1951 (Orfeo)
- Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, studio recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Philharmonia Orchestra, 1952 (Naxos, EMI)
- Mendelssohn, Violin Concerto, studio recording with Yehudi Menuhin and with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1952 (Naxos, EMI)
- Mozart, Don Giovanni, both the 1953 and 1954 Salzburg Festival recordings (in live performance). These have been made available on several labels, but mostly EMI.
- Schubert, Eighth Symphony (first movement only), live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, December 1944 (SWF)
- Schubert, Ninth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1942 (Deutsche Grammophon, Magic Master, Music and Arts, Opus Kura)
- Schubert, Die Zauberharfe Overture, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, September 1953 (Deutsche Grammophon)
- Schumann, Fourth Symphony, studio recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, Deutsche Grammophon, May 1953 (Deutsche Grammophon)
Sami Habra wrote in 2005:
Schumann's Fourth [has] long [been regarded] as the recording of the century (along with the HMV Tristan) [...] Before the boisterous last movement starts, there is the famous transitional passage in which Furtwängler builds up the most impressive crescendo ever heard. This crescendo is referred to by Conservatoire teachers and conductors as being the very perfection, in spite of its infeasibility. Celibidache and Karajan have tried to imitate Furtwängler in this part on some occasions, but both conductors run out of breath towards the middle of the crescendo. This Furtwängler performance has yet to be equalled...
- Sibelius, En Saga, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, February 1943 (SWF)
- Tchaikovsky, Fourth Symphony, studio recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, 1951 (Tahra)
- Tchaikovsky, Sixth Symphony Pathétique, studio recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, HMV, 1938 (EMI, Naxos)
Sami Habra wrote in 2005:
According to Friedland Wagner, this 1938 performance of the "Pathetique" by Furtwängler was so overwhelming that Toscanini, in his house at Riverdale, played this recording again and again to his guests on a memorable day, pointing out with enthusiasm all its fine points [...] We can safely say that no one has probed as deeply as Furtwängler into the abyss of the tragic contents and pessimistic forebodings of the "Pathetique" [...] The last movement would probably have contained a glimmer of hope, had it not been for the fateful events that were to plunge the World into its darkest hours. Many observers have asserted that Furtwängler had foreseen what was to happen.
Gerhard Brunner said about this recording,
Produced in 1952, this recording, now reissued, has long been something of a landmark in recent history - rightly so, for its importance and its uniqueness are unquestionable [...] Wilhelm Furtwängler's architectural greatness is communicated so directly, so forcefully from the very first bar that one immediately forgets the small imperfections of the mono recording [...] The most striking thing is certainly the cogency of this interpretation. Nowhere are there hiatuses, breaks in the music's flow. Furtwängler, though far from being a perfectionist in individual detail, invariably seems to see the entire conception before him, so grippingly does he span the work's long arches, so magnificently does he weld together the various components. [...] His feeling for form is so compelling in its certainty that one does not stop to consider for a moment that it is not the only way of interpreting a particular phrase or sequence [...] The idea of Furtwängler seeking effect from a series of 'purple passages' is unthinkable ; and yet the great emotional crescendi, the great climaxes, have a dramatic power scarcely matched elsewhere.
- Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen, 1950 (live recording from La Scala in Milan)
- Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen with Wolfgang Windgassen, Ludwig Suthaus, and Martha Mödl, 1953 (EMI) (recorded live in the RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) studios).
- Wagner, Die Walküre, his last recording in 1954. EMI planned to record "Der ring des Nibelungen" in the studio under Furtwängler, but he only finished this work shortly before his death. The cast includes Martha Mödl (Brünnhilde), Leonie Rysanek (Sieglinde), Ludwig Suthaus (Siegmund), Gottlob Frick (Hunding), and Ferdinand Frantz (Wotan).
- Bartók, First Piano Concerto, the composer as soloist, Theater Orchestra, Frankfurt, July 1, 1927
- Schoenberg, Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin, December 2, 1928
- Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 5, the composer as soloist, Berlin Philharmonic, October 31, 1932
- Hindemith, suite from Mathis der Maler, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin, March 11, 1934
- Richard Strauss, Four Last Songs, Kirsten Flagstad as soloist, Philharmonia Orchestra, London, May 22, 1950
- Overture in E♭ Major, Op. 3 (1899)
- Symphony in D major (1st movement: Allegro) (1902)
- Symphony in B minor (Largo movement) (1908; the principal theme of this work was used as the leading theme of the 1st movement of the Symphony No. 1, in the same key)
- Symphonic Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1937, rev. 1954)
- Symphony No. 1 in B minor (1941)
- Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1947)
- Symphony No. 3 in C♯ minor (1954)
- Piano Quintet (for two violins, viola, cello, and piano) in C major (1935)
- Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor (1935)
- Violin Sonata No. 2 in D major (1939)
(all early works)
- Schwindet ihr dunklen Wölbungen droben (Chorus of Spirits, from Goethe's Faust) (1901–1902)
- Religöser Hymnus (1903)
- Te Deum for Choir and Orchestra (1902–1906) (rev. 1909) (first performed 1910)
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- Furtwängler, Wilhelm. Notebooks 1924–1954. Edited by Michael Tanner. Translated by Shaun Whiteside. London: Quartet Books, 1989. ISBN 0704302209.
- David Cairns "Wilhelm Furtwängler" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians London: Macmillan, 1980
- Cowan, Rob. "Furtwängler – Man and Myth". Gramophone. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- The difference is sometimes mis-characterized by the terms "objective" and "subjective", but Furtwängler's tempo inflections were often planned and reflected his studies with the harmonic theorist Heinrich Schenker from 1920 to 1935.
- Geissmar p 12
- Geissmar p 15
- Geissmar pp 20-5 & p 30
- Geissmar pp 20-5 and 143-7
- Geissmar p 23
- Open Library
- The Independent
- Michael H Kater The Twisted Muse, p.198
- Daniel Jaffé Sergey Prokofiev, p.128 (London: Phaidon, 1998)
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 89.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 37.
- Berta Geissmar, The Baton and the Jackboot', Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, pp. 66–67.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, pp. 57–60.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 44.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 340.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 55.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 64.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 74.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, 1994. p.56.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 319.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 109.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 220.
- Galo, Gary A., Review of The Furtwängler Record by John Ardoin (December 1995). Notes (2nd Ser.), 52 (2): pp. 483–485.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 109.
- Geissmar pp 81/2
- Berta Geissmar, The Baton and the Jackboot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 82.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 110.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 94.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, Chapter 2.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 113.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p. 53.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 46.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 100.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 50.
- Berta Geissmar, The Baton and the Jackboot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 86.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 45.
- « L'atelier du Maître », article by Philippe Jacquard on the web site of the french Wilhelm Furtwängler society: read on line.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 138.
- Frederick Spotts Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p.291
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 48.
- Berta Geissmar, The baton and the Jackboot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 144.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 139.
- Berta Geissmar, The baton and the Jackboot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 132.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 141.
- Berta Geissmar, The baton and the Jackboot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 159.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 142.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 144.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 52.
- Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm, Paris, L'Archipel, 2004, p. 51 and p. 128.
- Klaus Lang, Celibidache et Furtwängler [« Celibidache und Furtwängler »], Paris, Buchet/Chastel, 2012, p. 55.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, chapter 5.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 143.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 172.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 145.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 173.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartpresentset Books, 1991, p. 173.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 51.
- Frederic Spotts. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p. 293
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 151.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 150.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 253.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 177.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 152.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p.74.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p. 74.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 153.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p.75.
- Wilhelm Furtwängler (trad. Ursula Wetzel, Jean-Jacques Rapin, préf. Pierre Brunel), Carnets 1924-1954 : suivis d’Écrits fragmentaires, Genève, éditions Georg, 1995, p. 39.
- Wilhelm Furtwängler (trad. Ursula Wetzel, Jean-Jacques Rapin, préf. Pierre Brunel), Carnets 1924-1954 : suivis d’Écrits fragmentaires, Genève, éditions Georg, 1995, p. 11.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p.188.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 104.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 155.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 156.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 157.
- ASIN 0761501371
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 157-159.
- "Music: Partisans on the Podium". Time. April 25, 1949.
- D. Gillis, Furtwängler and America, Maryland Books, New-York, 1970, rep. Rampart Press, Forestville (Calif.), 1980.
- Elisabeth Furtwängler, For Wilhelm [« Über Wilhelm Furtwängler »], Paris, L'Archipel, 2004, p. 141.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 53.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 54.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 165.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p. 81.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 166.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 168-169.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 239.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 241.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 242.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 244.
- Berta Geissmar, The Baton and the Jackboot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 352.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p. 89.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 59.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 231.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 174.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 175.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 176.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 285.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 235.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 236.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 57.
- Frederic Spotts. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p. 295
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 102.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 272.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 171.
- Frederic Spotts. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p. 87
- Martin Hürlimann, Wilhelm Furtwängler im Urteil seiner Zeit, Atlantis Verlag, 1955, p. 215.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 60.
- See David Cairns, ibid
- Martin Hürlimann, Wilhelm Furtwängler im Urteil seiner Zeit, Atlantis Verlag, 1955, p. 215.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.60.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 185.
- This concert of 1944 was the result of a deal between Furtwängler and Goebbels. Furtwängler did not want to play in April for Hitler's birthday in Berlin. He said to Goebbels in March that he was sick (as in April 1943). Goebbels who asked him to play in Prague instead, Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.115.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.115.
- F. K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, Londres, 1991.
- The Baton and the Jackboot, Berta Geissmar, Columbus Books Ltd, august 1988.
- Shirakawa, Sam, chap. 15
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.102.
- F. K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, Londres, 1991, p. 320.
- Curt Riess, Furtwängler, Musik und Politik, Berne, Scherz, 1953, p. 191.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wlihelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet books, 1991, p. 306.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.75.
- Joseph Goebbels, Reden 1932–1939, hrsg. von Helmut Heiber, Düsseldorf, Droste Verlag, 1972, p. 282.
- Wilfried von Oven, Finale furioso, Mit Goebbels zum Ende. Tübingen, Grabert Verlag, 1974, p. 268.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet Books, 1991, p. 317.
- Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (1970) Macmillan pp 548.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.174.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Imago, 2009, p.64.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p. 93.
- Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Furtwängler, Portland (Ore.), Timber press, 1990, p. 94.
- Bernard D. Sherman. (1997) . "Brahms: The Symphonies/Charles Mackerras". Fanfare. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet books, 1991, p. 226.
- Fred K. Prieberg, Trial of Strength, Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich, Quartet books, 1991, p. 236.
- Roger Smithson (1997). Furtwängler’s Silent Years: 1945–47 (.RTF). Société Wilhelm Furtwängler. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- Monod, David (2005). Settling Scores: German Music, Denazification, and the Americans, 1945–1953. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-8078-2944-7.
- "In Memoriam Furtwängler", Tahra 2004.
- Quoted from John Ardoin's The Furtwängler Record
- "Wilhelm Furtwängler". James C.S. Liu, M.D. Retrieved 2006-07-06.
- John Ardoin's The Furtwängler Record, Amadeus Press, 1994, p.58.
- Taubman, Howard (1949-01-06). "Musicians' Ban on Furtwaengler Ends His Chicago Contract for '49". New York Times. reprinted in McLanathan, Richard B K; Gene Brown (1978). The Arts. New York: Arno Press. p. 349. ISBN 0-405-11153-3.
- Taking Sides (2001) at the Internet Movie Database
- Martin Kettle (26 November 2004). "Second coming". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- Wilhelm Furtwängler, CD Wilhelm Furtwängler In Memoriam FURT 1090–1093, Tahra, 2004, p. 54.
- "The Furtwangler Legacy on BBC radio"..
- "Furtwängler, Second coming"..
- "Ten Perfect Orchestral Recordings on The New Yorker"..
- "Maybe the greatest conductor in history", Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la musique, December 2004, p. 62–67.
- "Maybe the greatest conductor in history, probably the greatest Beethovenian", "L'orchestre des rites et des dieux", editor: Autrement, series mutation, volume 99, 1994, p. 206.
- "Why was Wilhelm Furtwängler the greatest conductor in history?" Professor Joachim Kaiser, course in German available on the web site of the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
- "Wilhelm Furtwängler Biography". Naxos. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- cite book | last=Frisch | first=Walter | title=Brahms: The Four Symphonies | year=2003 | publisher=Yale University Press | isbn=0=300-09965-7 | pages=183–185
- Sergiu Celibidache, CD Wilhelm Furtwängler In Memoriam FURT 1090–1093, Tahra, 2004, p. 57.
- Christoph Eschenbach Own Words on His Life
- Harold Schönberg, The great conductors, Simon and Schuster, 1967.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p.18.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p.19–20.
- Beethoven, CD Furtwängler, Beethoven's Choral Symphony, Tahra FURT 1101–1104, p. 28.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 21.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 22.
- (French) Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la musique, December 2004, p. 62–67.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 25.
- Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm, Paris, 2004, p. 32.
- SchenkerGUIDE By Tom Pankhurst, p. 5 ff
- Schenker Documents Online.
- Sami Habra, CD Furtwängler, Beethoven's Choral Symphony, Tahra FURT 1101–1104, p. 18.
- (French) Schenkerian analysis.
- Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm, Paris, 2004, p.54.
- CD Furtwängler, Beethoven's Choral Symphony, Tahra FURT 1101–1104, p. 19.
- David Cairns, CD Beethoven's 5th and 6th Symphonies, 427 775-2, DG, 1989, p. 16.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, 1994, p. 12.
- Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la musique, December 2004, p. 66
- CD Wilhelm Furtwängler, his legendary post-war recordings, Tahra, harmonia mundi distribution, FURT 1054/1057, p. 15.
- Yehudi Menuhin, DVD The Art of Conducting - Great Conductors of the Past, Elektra/Wea, 2002.
- Wilhelm Furtwängler, Carnets 1924–1954, 1995, p. 103.
- Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm, 2004, p. 55.
- "Carlos Kleiber, un don et une malédiction". Le Huffinton Post. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
- Herbert von Karajan, CD Wilhelm Furtwängler In Memoriam FURT 1090–1093, Tahra, 2004, p. 57.
- Gérard Géfen, Furtwängler, une Biographie par le disque, Belfond, 1986, p. 51.
- Leins Hermann, Diener der Musik, herausgegeben von Martin Müller und Wofgang Mertz, Rainer Wunderlich Verlag, 1965, p. 180–187.
- About Furtwängler's second symphony, Honneger wrote: "the man who can write a score so rich as this is not to be argued about. He is of the reace of great musicians". CD Wilhelm Furtwängler The Legend, 9 08119 2, EMI, 2011, p. 7.
- Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jupiter und ich : Begegnungen mit Furtwängler, Berlin University Press, 2009 (ISBN 978-3940432667).
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2005/may/20/classicalmusicandopera2 Interview of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau for The Guardian.
- Yehudi Menuhin, « La légende du violon », Flammarion, 2009, p. 242.
- DVD The Art of Conducting - Great Conductors of the Past, Elektra/Wea, 2002.
- John Ardoin's The Furtwängler Record, Amadeus Press, 1994, p.12.
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler record, Amadeus Press, 1994, p.120.
- André Tubeuf, EMI C 051-63332, 1969.
- Harry Halbreich, CD Furtwängler conducts Beethoven, SWF 941, 1994, p.11.
- Harry Halbreich, CD Beethoven, Ninth Symphony, SWF 891R, 2001, p.8–10.
- Beethoven's 9th - Fraud & misrepresentation by EMI - Is this really so?.
- Kees A. Schouhamer Immink (2007). "Shannon, Beethoven, and the Compact Disc". IEEE Information Theory Newsletter: 42–46. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
- Sigurd Schimpf, EMI C 049-01 146.
- "Bruckner: Symphony No. 5/Furtwängler". classicstoday.com. Retrieved November 2012.
- Sami Habra, CD Furtwängler « revisited », FURT 1099, Tahra, 2005, p.10.
- Sami Habra, CD Furtwängler « revisited », FURT 1099, Tahra, 2005, p.11.
- Sami Habra, CD Furtwängler « revisited », FURT 1099, Tahra, 2005, p.9.
- Gerhard Brunner, CD Tristan und Isolde, EMI CDS 7 47322 8, p. 20.
- Cairns, David "Wilhelm Furtwängler" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians London: Macmillan, 1980.
- Kater, Michael H. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
- Spotts, Frederic Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics. London: Hutchinson, 2002. ISBN 0-09-179394-7
- Shirakawa, Sam H. The Devil's Music Master: The controversial life and career of Wilhelm Furtwängler Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992 ISBN 0-19-506508-5
- Frisch, Walter Brahms: The Four Symphonies New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003 ISBM0-30009965-7
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