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Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler (January 25, 1886 – November 30, 1954) was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Furtwängler became one of the leading conductors in Europe, as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1922, as principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1922–26, and as a major guest conductor of other leading orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic. He was the leading conductor who remained in Germany during the Second World War, and although not an adherent to the Nazi regime this decision caused controversy for the rest of his life. 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 off-air recordings and this has led to him being revered by a large number of musicians, critics and record collectors since his death.
Furtwängler's conducting style is often contrasted to that of his older contemporary Arturo Toscanini, whose work during this period was also widely documented. Like Toscanini, Furtwängler was a major influence on many later conductors, and his name is often mentioned when discussing their interpretive style. Unlike Toscanini, Furtwängler sought a weighty, less rhythmically strict, more bass-oriented orchestral sound with more conspicuous use of tempo inflections not indicated in the printed score.
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 posthumous fame rests on his work as a conductor, he was also a composer and regarded himself first and foremost as such, having in fact 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, before securing a job at the Berlin Staatskapelle in 1920, and in 1922 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra where he succeeded Arthur Nikisch, and concurrently at the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Furtwängler also made a number of appearances as a conductor abroad. He 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, and made 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. However, 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
On April 10, 1933, Furtwängler wrote a public letter to Goebbels to denounce the new rulers' anti-Semitism:
I feel that I am first and foremost an artist, and that I am therefore apolitical in the sense of party politics. Art and artists exist to create love, not hate; to unite, not to divide. 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. Musical activity today, already weakened by the World crisis, the radio, etc., cannot tolerate any more experiments. Music cannot be made contingent in the same way as other essentials such as potatoes and bread. 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 agreeing with him and thanking him, people hoping that Furtwängler would disavow the politics of anti-Semitism 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 saying : "The Jewish question in musical spheres: a race a 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."
During the period 1933–1934, Furtwängler was constantly helping Jewish people so that Georg Gerullis, ministerial director at the Ministry of Culture sent 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 in order to try to bend the racial policy of Nazis in music and to support Jewish musicians. On 25, November 1934, he wrote a letter in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung to support Hindemith's art, a degenerate artist for the Nazis and conducted a piece of Hindemith's opera Mathis der Maler. This unleashed a storm, the Nazis understood that all their opponents were behind Furtwängler. He was then forced to resign from all his positions. In 1936 it seemed possible that he might follow Erich Kleiber's footsteps into exile when he was offered the principal conductor's post at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, where he would have succeeded Arturo Toscanini. Toscanini's biographer Harvey Sachs wrote that Toscanini recommended Furtwängler for the position, one of the few times Toscanini expressed admiration for a fellow conductor. There is every possibility that Furtwängler would have accepted the post, but a report from the Berlin branch of the Associated Press, possibly ordered by Hermann Göring, said that he was willing to take up his post at the Berlin Opera once more. 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, Grove Online notes that he was "personally unpopular" with the orchestra's board, whom he had treated disrepectfully when he conducted the orchestra in 1925–27; influential boards were unknown in German orchestras at the time.
However, 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. ·  ·  Berta Geissmar who was Furtwängler's secretary during the period 1915–1935 was Jewish. She says 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 put eventually put on their black list, let alone myself.
Furtwängler was treated relatively 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 the list on December 7, 1944 because of his relationships with German resistance). During the war, he tried to avoid conducting in occupied Europe as much as possible. In particular, he categorically refused to go to France during the occupation of this country, although the Nazis tried to force him to conduct there. ·  ·  However, he conducted 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. 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 he 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".
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. ·  ·  · 
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. Indeed, Furtwängler had strong links to German resistance that organized the 20 July plot against Hitler. As Furtwängler explicitly said during his denazification trial, he knew that an attack was 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 avoid official manifestations, was a member of the Kreisau Circle. Grove Online states that he was "within a few hours of being arrested " by the Gestapo when he escaped to Switzerland shortly 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.
At his denazification trial, Furtwängler was charged with two official concerts for the period 1933–1945. The first concert was for the Hitler Youth on 3 February 1938. It was part of a long series of concerts presented to Furtwängler as a way to acquaint the rising 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 agreed to conduct this concert to preserve the Viennese orchestra (the Nazis wanted to eliminate the orchestra) but required that the concert was not part of the nazi congress and this is why the political event only formally opened the following morning. He was charged also with 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 started the trial with the following sentences:
"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 and Nathan Milstein, among the musicians in the Jewish community who had a positive view of Furtwängler. In 1933 he had refused to play with him, but in the late 1940s after a personal investigation of Furtwängler, he became supportive of him, 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, Artur 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 got very upset with this boycott. He, indeed, declared on many occasions that some of the main organizers had admitted to him having organized this boycott 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. This is why composers such as Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner were so central to Furtwängler's repertoire, because 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. ·  ·  ·  ·  ·  For example, 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's 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 that Vladimir Ashkenazy 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 that 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."
However, on the website Classics Today, 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 influence 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 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. Still, 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. Contrary to Mendelssohn's conducting style at the same period that 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 with 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 since it is proved that Beethoven himself interpreted is own music with a lot of freedom. Beethoven wrote in some of his letters: "my tempi are valid only for the first bars, as feeling and expression must have their own tempo", or "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 was changing continuously the tempo when he conducted his works. Wagner's tradition was pursued 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 tones. The styles of these two conductors were synthesized by Furtwängler.
Furtwängler was the student of Felix Mottl, a disciple of Wagner, when he was in Munich in 1907–1909. Moreover, he has always considered Arthur Nikisch as his model. As stated by John Ardoin, from Wagner the subjective style of conducting led to Furtwängler and from Mendelssohn the objective style of conducting led to Toscanini.
In addition, Furtwängler's art has been deeply influenced by the great Jewish music theorist Heinrich Schenker with whom he worked between 1920 and Schenker's death in 1935. Schenker is the founder of musical analysis (called the Schenkerian analysis) and emphasized 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. Since then he tried to find and read all his books. Furtwängler met Schenker in 1920 for the first time and, since then, they continuously worked together on the musical works that Furtwängler conducted. Due to his ideas that were too modern for that time, Schenker could never get an academic position in Austria and Germany in spite of the efforts of Furtwängler to support him. Schenker lived thanks to 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 also 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 sound wealth is partly due to his "vague" beat often called his "fluid beat". This fluid beat created a slight gap between the musicians allowing the brain of listeners to clearly distinguish all the instruments in the orchestra even in the tutti. This is why Vladimir Ashkenazy once said : "I never heard such beautiful fortissimi as Furtwängler's." Yehudi Menuhin has stated under many occasions that Furtwängler's fluid beat was more difficult but superior than Toscanini's very precise beat. In addition, contrary to Otto Klemperer, Furtwängler did not try to suppress emotions giving an hyper romantic aspect to his interpretations whose emotional intensity is almost unbearable in the World War II recordings. He always wanted to keep an aspect of improvisation and unexpected in his concerts, each interpretation being conceived as a recreation like with Richard Wagner. However, the 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 also 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 of Furtwängler in reverent tones include Valery Gergiev, Claudio Abbado, Sergiu Celibidache, Christoph Eschenbach, Alexander Frey, Eugen Jochum, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Christian Thielemann. George Szell, whose precise and martinet-like musicianship was in many ways antithetical to Furtwängler's, always kept a picture of his older colleague in his dressing room. Herbert von Karajan, who in his early years was Furtwängler's most detested 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. More precisely, Karajan said :
He certainly had an enormous influence on me [...] I remember that when I was Generalmusidirektor 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 probably most clearly represented a continuity with Furtwängler's incandescent style was Jascha Horenstein, who 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 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, Fifth Symphony, live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, June 1943 (Classica d'Oro, Deutsche Grammophon, Enterprise, Music and Arts, Opus Kura, 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)
- 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)
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, 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, 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)
- 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...
- 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.
- 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
- 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 1920–35.
- Open Library
- The Independent
- Michael H Kater The Twisted Muse, p.198
- Daniel Jaffé Sergey Prokofiev, p.128 (London: Phaidon, 1998)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- ASIN 0761501371
- John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, 1994. p.47.
- "Music: Partisans on the Podium". Time. April 25, 1949.
- 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.
- Berta Geissmar, The baton and the jackpot, Morrison and Gibb ltd., London and Edinburgh, first published 1944, p. 132.
- Audrey Roncigli, Le cas Furtwängler, Paris, Imago, 2009, p. 171.
- 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.
- This concert of 1944 was 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 understood that it was a lie 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 Stength. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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"..
- "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.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Wilhelm Furtwängler|
- Wilhelm Furtwängler at Allmusic
- Press cuttings announcing his denazification hearing
- Biography, Critical Discography, Book and Web Bibliography
- Large collection of public domain Furtwängler recordings