Wilhelm Furtwängler

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Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler (1911)

Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler (born January 25, 1886 in Schöneberg ; † November 30, 1954 in Ebersteinburg near Baden-Baden ; buried in the mountain cemetery in Heidelberg ) was a German conductor and composer . He is considered one of the most important conductors of the 20th century.


Memorial plaque on house Nollendorfplatz 8, in Berlin-Schöneberg

Wilhelm Furtwängler was born in 1886 as the son of the professor of classical archeology Adolf Furtwängler and his wife Adelheid (née Wendt) on Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg, which was only annexed to Berlin in 1920 .


He spent his youth in Munich, where his father taught at the university, and attended a humanistic grammar school. At an early age he became enthusiastic about music. From 1899 he received private lessons in composition , piano and music . Joseph Rheinberger , Max von Schillings and Conrad Ansorge took over his training as a pianist .

In 1900, as Karl Alexander von Müller reports, the Munich Orchestra Association performed a piano quartet and an overture by the young Furtwängler, which he conducted himself. The following year, a string sextet from his pen was played in the house of the sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand , which is said to have been "truly worthy of Schubert".

Conducting career (1906–1933)

Portrait of Emil Orlik , 1928

His first engagements took him to Berlin in 1906 as the second repetitor, in 1907 via Breslau as a choir director to Zurich and then back to Munich . In 1910 Hans Pfitzner hired him as 3rd Kapellmeister to Strasbourg . In 1911 he went to Lübeck as the successor to Hermann Abendroth and conducted the orchestra of the Verein der Musikfreunde there. As the sponsor of the concert orchestra made available to the opera, the association has already ensured that the director of the theater also had to employ Hermann Abendroth as its conductor. The constant Liibeck criticism, intrigues, all kinds of hiccups and the deficit theater attacked the health so much that the director resigned after three years and died shortly afterwards. When Stanislaus Fuchs was appointed as his successor, this practice was retained. Furtwängler, who almost at the same time became Abendroth's successor in the association, was employed as the conductor of the opera of the theater, which was already deficient without him.

As early as 1915 Furtwängler left the city in which he received his first chief position and became opera director in Mannheim , from 1919 to 1921 he was chief conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra , and in 1920 he took over the concerts of the Berlin State Opera as the successor to Richard Strauss . From 1921 to 1927 he (together with Leopold Reichwein ) held the position of concert director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna and in this position conducted the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, which was newly constituted in 1921 (since 1933: Vienna Symphony Orchestra ). From 1922 he worked as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and until 1928 also conducted the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig as Gewandhauskapellmeister . For 1931 he was the overall director of the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth .

Furtwängler in the time of National Socialism

The National Socialists courted Furtwängler because of his international reputation as a cultural figurehead. For 1933 it is proven that he campaigned for some Jews (such as his concertmaster Szymon Goldberg ). The ministerial director in the Ministry of Education, Georg Gerullis , wrote on July 20, 1933, in an official letter to the Reich cultural administrator Hans Hinkel, annoyed: "Can you name a Jew for whom Furtwängler does not stand up?"

In the run-up to a joint concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker in April 1933 in Mannheim, protests against the participation of Jewish musicians broke out. Furtwängler canceled the concert without further ado and announced that he would no longer perform in this city as long as “you have such an attitude”. In an open letter to Joseph Goebbels on April 11, 1933, Furtwängler criticized the discrimination against Jewish musicians: “In the end, I only recognize one line of demarcation: that between good and bad art.” The fight against those who are “rootless and destructive.” tried to work through kitsch and dry skill ”. However, if this struggle is directed against real artists, it is not in the interests of cultural life. It must be made clear that men like Walter , Klemperer and Reinhardt will have to have their say in Germany with their art in the future. The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda replied immediately: “Only an art that draws from the full nationality itself can be good in the end and mean something to the people for whom it is created [...] Art must be good; but also responsible, skillful, close to the people and combative. ”The correspondence between Furtwängler and Goebbels appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt on April 11th and 12th, 1933; Liberal and social democratic newspapers abroad ( Neue Freie Presse , Prager Tagblatt ) printed the protest on the front page. Ultimately, Furtwängler was able to ensure that the " Aryan Paragraph " was initially not applied to the Berlin Philharmonic. He also invited Jewish soloists (who then canceled).

In June 1933 he was appointed First Kapellmeister by Göring and in January 1934 he was appointed director of the Berlin State Opera . He also performed at the German Opera House in Berlin-Charlottenburg . In July 1933 Göring appointed him to the Prussian State Council . In addition, he accommodated the new rulers in the autumn of 1933 in so far as he was willing to be appointed Vice President of the Reich Music Chamber , which was under Goebbels' Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. According to his statements after 1945, however, Furtwängler had a negative attitude towards the Nazi regime. He hoped from this position that he would be able to influence cultural and political events in the sense of a tactical cooperation and thus prevent the worst, "to be able to keep art free from everything 'low'". According to another assessment, he and Richard Strauss, President of the Reichsmusikkammer, had the exclusion of most Jews and so-called "cultural Bolsheviks" from the chamber, which amounted to a ban on professions and performances.

Nevertheless, in February 1934 he performed three pieces from the “Midsummer Night's Dream” of the already outlawed Mendelssohn , demonstratively honoring him on his 125th birthday. On March 11th and 12th of the same year he conducted the world premiere of the symphony "Mathis der Maler" by the composer Paul Hindemith, who was later frowned upon as "degenerate" . Although this symphony was an overwhelming success with the public and saw further performances and radio broadcasts, Hitler did not approve the planned performance of the opera of the same name in the fall . Furtwängler, who had publicly stated by signing the call of the cultural workers of August 19, 1934 that he belonged to the Führer’s allegiance , threatened to resign and campaigned for Hindemith in a sensational newspaper article. Since the Nazi leadership failed to give in and they offered him the alternative of resigning or dismissing him, on December 4, 1934, he felt compelled to give up his posts as State Opera Director, Head of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Vice President of the Reichsmusikkammer.

Furtwängler conducts a KdF concert at the AEG factory in Berlin , 1942

On February 28, 1935, however, he allowed himself to be received by Goebbels and declared that it was completely far removed from him to use the Hindemith article to “intervene in the direction of Reich art policy”; this would "of course, in his opinion, be determined solely by the Führer and Reich Chancellor and the specialist minister commissioned by him." So - after further discussions with Rosenberg and Hitler - he was able to resume his public activities in April 1935, but only with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, because Clemens Krauss was already scheduled for the State Opera . He conducted in 1935 and 1938 on the eve of the Nazi party rallies in Nuremberg, was principal conductor of the Bayreuth Festival, which was used for propaganda purposes in 1936, 1937 and 1943, and represented Germany at the 1937 Paris World Exhibition. He was appointed to Goebbels' Reichskultursenat and supported calls for the Reichstag election in 1936 and the referendum on the "Anschluss" of Austria. In June 1939 he was entrusted with the management of the Vienna Philharmonic and in December of the same year appointed by Gauleiter Josef Bürckel as authorized representative for the entire music industry of the city of Vienna. In addition to concerts on Hitler's birthday and Christmas reception, for Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry and for the Hitler Youth, he conducted a concert in Prague in November 1940 for the reopening of the "German Theater" and again in March 1944 for the fifth anniversary of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

In 1936 Furtwängler had the opportunity to leave Germany and take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor without any other permanent commitment . But he preferred to sign a contract with Göring, according to which he was to give at least ten guest conductors at the Berlin State Opera in the 1936/1937 season. This led to misunderstandings and the rejection of New York. Since 1944, with the approval of the Nazi regime, he lived mainly in Lucerne (Switzerland), and fled there for good three months before the occupation of Berlin by Soviet troops. He was spared participating in the war because he was not only on the God-gifted list , but also on the special list of the three most important musicians on the God-gifted list.

Furtwängler's behavior during the Nazi era is judged differently. While Fred K. Prieberg and Herbert Haffner try to relieve him as a purely artistically interested person, Eberhard Straub, among others, portrays him as a distinct opportunist.

post war period

In 1945 Furtwängler was initially banned from conducting by the American occupation authorities. Even more devastating for him was his international ostracism and his branding as a scapegoat: He was dubbed “Hitler's pampered maestro”, “musical stooge of the Nazi blood justice” and “one of the most fateful figures of the Nazi empire”.

The emigrated artists, on the other hand, resented Furtwängler especially his prominence in the Third Reich. It was forgotten that he was already a star conductor during the Weimar Republic. Fred K. Prieberg also suspects that the rejection that Furtwängler met from emigrant circles was ultimately based on the disappointment that he had not emigrated:

“He was a symbol. He embodied - in front of the general public, even in the headlines of the world press - like no other German musician, the German art of music. Not just since 1933, but already during the republic, he had such a firmly established position of power that task and person were merged in public opinion: Furtwängler, a term for ingenious artistic practice, symbol of the driving force in the music business of the Reich. What a challenge for emigrants! An incomparable artist lived in Germany under the rule of the National Socialists, and he refused to confirm them - the emigrants - in their role, or at least to share their forced lot of turning his back on barbarism. "

If Furtwängler was accused of collaborating with and propaganda for the Nazi state, one not least blatantly underestimated the constraints that a celebrity was exposed to "in a terror regime like this, whose cruelty is also denied any other comparability" . Ronald Harwood wrote the play "Taking Sides" in 1995, which was filmed by István Szabó in 2001 under the same title (German subtitle: The Furtwängler Case ).

Furtwängler owed it to the intercession of the “ degenerate ” musicians Paul Hindemith , Yehudi Menuhin , Szymon Goldberg and his long-time Jewish secretary Berta Geissmar that he was acquitted in 1947. On May 25, 1947, he conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker again for the first time in a public concert. However, it took another five years before he was reappointed chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1952, this time for life.


Furtwängler, a member of the extensive Furtwängler family , was married twice. In 1923 he married Zitla Lund from Denmark. At this point he already had four children out of wedlock. The marriage itself remained childless. The couple officially separated in 1931, but they did not divorce until 1943. In the same year he married Elisabeth Ackermann (* December 20, 1910 - March 5, 2013), née Albert, whose first husband, Hans Ackermann, had died in World War II . From this marriage the only legitimate son, the later archaeologist Andreas E. Furtwängler (born November 11, 1944) emerged. He was friends with the violinist Melanie Michaelis .

Furtwängler was the stepfather of the actress Kathrin Ackermann , who was married to Bernhard Furtwängler, a son of Wilhelm's brother Walter Furtwängler . Her daughter Maria Furtwängler is also known as an actress.

His grave in the Heidelberg Bergfriedhof is covered by a stone slab with the verse from 1. Cor. 13:13: But now there remains faith, love, hope, these three. But love is the greatest among them. Next to him are his mother and sister Märit Furtwängler-Scheler, who was married to Max Scheler from 1912 to 1924 .


Furtwängler's work as a conductor

Furtwängler was a conductor whose self-image is the myth of the redemptive function of music. His subjectivity was expressed in a conducting attitude that was often interpreted as an inexhaustible getting into forms and elements of music, but which was also highly calculated, especially with regard to accelerandi and tempo shifts. This attitude and way of interpreting it has its origins in the 19th century.

Many commentators and critics, such as Joachim Kaiser , see Furtwängler as the greatest conductor in history.

Furtwängler's art of conducting is seen as the synthesis and culmination of the so-called “Germanic School of Conducting”, which was initiated by Richard Wagner . In contrast to Mendelssohn's conducting style at the same time, which was “characterized by fast, even tempos and filled with what many saw as exemplary logic and precision”, “Wagner's style […] was broad, hyper-romantic and embraced the idea of ​​tempo -Modulation". Wagner viewed an interpretation as a new creation and emphasized more phrase than measure. Varying the tempo was nothing new, because it has been proven that Beethoven himself interpreted his own music very freely. Beethoven wrote in some of his letters: “My tempos are only valid for the first bars, since feeling and expression need their own tempo”, or “Why do you annoy me by asking about my tempos? Either they are good musicians and should know how my music should be played, or they are bad musicians and in that case my pointers would be useless ”. Beethoven's students, such as Anton Schindler , testified that the composer continuously varied the tempo when conducting his works. It was the first two full-time conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic to follow Wagner's tradition. Hans von Bülow emphasized the uniform structure of the symphonic works, while Arthur Nikisch emphasized the grandeur of the tones. The styles of these two conductors were brought together by Furtwängler. Furtwängler was the pupil of Felix Mottl , a pupil of Wagner, when Furtwängler stayed in Munich from 1907 to 1909. In addition, Furtwängler always saw Arthur Nikisch as his role model. As John Ardoin pointed out, the subjective conducting style led from Wagner to Furtwängler, the objective conducting style from Mendelssohn to Toscanini.

In addition, Furtwängler's art was strongly influenced by the music theorist Heinrich Schenker , with whom he worked from 1920 until Schenker's death in 1935. Schenker was the founder of music analysis and emphasized the far-reaching harmonic tension and dissolution of a piece of music. Furtwängler read Schenker's monograph on Beethoven's 9th Symphony in 1911. Since then he has tried to find and read all of his books. He first met Schenker in 1920, and since then they have continuously worked together on the musical works that Furtwängler conducted. Since his ideas were too modern for their time, Schenker was never able to get into an academic position in Austria and Germany, despite Furtwängler's efforts to support him. Schenker lived thanks to some patrons including Furtwängler. Furtwängler's second wife confirmed much later that Schenker had an immense influence on her husband. Schenker saw Furtwängler as the greatest conductor in the world and as the "only conductor who really understood Beethoven".

Furtwängler modified the so-called American orchestral line-up by placing the violas on the far right (first and second violins on the left, cellos half on the right and violas on the right, basses on the right). However, Serge Kussewitzky is said to have practiced this setup almost at the same time and allegedly independently of Furtwängler - with the variant that the basses remained on the left. However, many photo documents can be seen in which Furtwängler also conducts the old German line-up (second violin on the right, basses on the left). His orchestral line-up is very popular - as a compromise between the American and German line-up.

Furtwängler's recordings are also characterized by an “extraordinary richness of sound”, with special emphasis on cellos, double basses, percussion and woodwind instruments. According to Furtwängler, he learned from Arthur Nikisch how to achieve this sound. This richness of sound is partly due to its “vague” beat, which is often called its “flowing beat”. This flowing time created a slight shift in time between the musicians, allowing the listener to clearly distinguish all orchestral instruments, even in the tutti. That is why Vladimir Ashkenazy once said : “I never heard such beautiful fortissimi as with Furtwängler.” Yehudi Menuhin explained on many occasions that Furtwängler's flowing beat was more difficult, but that Toscanini's very precise beat was superior. In addition, in contrast to Otto Klemperer , Furtwängler did not try to suppress emotions that gave his interpretations a hyperromantic aspect, the emotional intensity of which in the recordings from the Second World War stretched to the limits of artistic experience.

The interpretation of Beethoven's 9th Symphony in March 1942 with the Berliner Philharmoniker is seen by some of his admirers as a “millennium interpretation”. Joachim Kaiser writes: “The most powerful and profound interpretation of Symphony No. 9 [by Beethoven] is by Wilhelm Furtwängler. It is a recording of a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic from 1942. “This interpretation is in no way inferior to an interpretation of the great C major symphony by Schubert in December of the same year. Joachim Kaiser commented as follows (although not referring to this particular recording): “Wilhelm Furtwängler - there is no longer any doubt about that among the Schubertians of the Old and New World - Schubert's 'great' C major symphony is more fascinating and glowing and able to conduct more visionary than anyone else. "

Furtwängler always wanted to preserve an aspect of improvisation and the unexpected in his concerts, so that every interpretation emerged as a new creation, as with Richard Wagner. However, with Furtwängler neither the melodic line nor the global unity were ever lost, not even in the most dramatic interpretations, partly through the influence of Heinrich Schenker, and because Furtwängler was also a composer who had studied composition for life.

The musicians who expressed the highest opinion about Furtwängler include some of the most prominent 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 played with almost all the great conductors of the 20th century, declared on several occasions that Furtwängler was the most important for them. John Ardoin reported the following discussion he had with Maria Callas in August 1968 after listening to Beethoven's Eighth with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell :

“Well,” she sighed, “you see what we're reduced to. We now live in a time when Szell is seen as a master. How small he was next to Furtwängler. ”Stunned - not because of her judgment, which I agreed with, but because of its unadorned sharpness - I stammered:“ But how well do you know Furtwängler? You never sang with him. ”“ What do you think? ”She stared at me equally stunned. “He began his career in Italy after the war [from 1947]. I heard dozens of his concerts there. For me he was Beethoven. "

Furtwängler's work as a composer

What is less well known is that Furtwängler also composed. He even saw himself primarily as a composer and therefore suffered all his life from the tension that he was admired as a conductor, but received far too little attention in his role as a composer. For example, at the beginning of his conducting career he wrote: “Tomorrow I will go into exile as Kapellmeister in Strasbourg. I can not help myself. I feel as if I am being unfaithful to myself. ”A similar statement was as follows:

“I know best myself that the life I lead is not my life; that I am, so to speak, about to sell my firstborn, my soul, a lentil dish. But it won't happen. The more external successes I have today, the sooner I can take the big step that I have to take. "

He wrote to his private tutor Ludwig Curtius :

“I want to compose and actually nothing but compose. It has long been clear to me that my production is not the result of any playful instinct or vanity, not even some self-imagination, but rather the most serious and decisive thing in life for me. My conducting career is not worth a serious mention. In reality, conducting was the roof under which I took refuge in my life because I was about to perish as a composer ”.

His second wife Elisabeth said that she once said to Furtwängler that it was really a shame that his father had never seen him become the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwängler replied that his father was very disappointed because he knew that he was a composer. Towards the end of his life, the composer Furtwängler was at least partially reconciled with the conductor Furtwängler, since he was allowed to perform his Symphony No. 2 in E minor on numerous occasions.

He wrote his most important works, including the second symphony, after 1935. Most of what he had composed before dates back to the years up to the First World War . In the two decades in between he concentrated almost exclusively on his conducting career and did not complete a single work. Furtwängler's narrow oeuvre includes three symphonies (early works partly lost), some orchestral pieces, a piano concerto , some chamber music , choral pieces (all early works) and early piano compositions as well as songs. The second symphony is the most frequently performed and therefore also the best known of his works. The movements of his third symphony in C sharp minor, on which he worked until his death, are provided with the following programmatic designations: 1. “The Doom”, 2. “In Compulsion to Live”, 3. “Beyond”, 4 . "The fight goes on".

Among his chamber music, the 2nd violin sonata in D major stands out with its elegiac-meditative slow movement. The mature compositions are particularly characterized by gigantic proportions (his three-movement piano quintet lasts 80 minutes) and a high degree of motivic and thematic work. On the whole, his style is indebted to the legacy of Anton Bruckner , Johannes Brahms and Max Reger , but Furtwängler continues their traditions in an original way, so that one cannot condemn the composer as an epigone , which often happens. Furtwängler has developed his own personal tonal language too much. The mood of his works can often be described as brooding or tragic. In addition, the high intellectual demands of his music make it difficult to understand, which, together with the enormous technical demands, is probably the reason why it has so far not been able to establish itself in concert business. In recent times, the conductors Wolfgang Sawallisch , George Alexander Albrecht and Daniel Barenboim in particular have tried to maintain Furtwängler's music. A complete edition of the composer's works and directorates was published in 2011 by Documents.

Furtwängler as an author

“The musician and his audience” is the manuscript for a lecture that was to be given at the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts , but which did not materialize due to Furtwängler's illness and death. Furtwängler had given the publisher Martin Hürlimann 's prior consent to publication. In it, the author passionately takes sides for a way of composing in which the music speaks directly to the audience, including the amateur ("people of the simple, clear life"). In contrast, he sees music that is written primarily for theorists, experts and critics and that needs an ideological foundation. He cites Arnold Schönberg's twelve-tone music as an example .

“Conversations about Music” includes the transcripts of six conversations between the conductor and the editor Walter Abendroth , a text written by Furtwängler (“Seventh Conversation”) and an afterword that he also wrote. In these texts, too, he used himself intensively for classical, tonal music, especially for the works of Beethoven.


Postage stamp from the Bundespost Berlin 1955 on the first anniversary of death
Postage stamp of the Bundespost Berlin 1986 for the 100th birthday
Grave of Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Heidelberg Bergfriedhof in the Dept. R

Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize

Since 1990, the Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize has been awarded at irregular intervals as part of the “Gala d'Europe Baden-Baden” to honor internationally renowned singers and conductors for particularly outstanding achievements in the field of classical music. The prize was initiated by Elisabeth Furtwängler, Wilhelm Furtwängler's wife, and Ermano Sens-Grosholz.

For the first time the prize was awarded to Plácido Domingo . Since 2008 it has been awarded during the Beethoven Festival in Bonn to outstanding soloists, orchestras, conductors and ensembles of the classical music scene.

List of award winners (incomplete):

year Award winners
1990 Plácido Domingo
1999 James Levine
2000 Lorin Maazel
2001 George Alexander Albrecht
2003 Daniel Barenboim together with the Staatskapelle Berlin
2008 Kurt Masur
2010 Kent Nagano
2011 Zubin Mehta
2012 Kent Nagano


"There is only one tempo, and that is the right one."

Recordings as a conductor

This is a partial list of Furtwängler's recordings. Due to the time it was made, these are exclusively mono recordings and mostly live recordings.


  • Edition Wilhelm Furtwängler - The complete RIAS recordings , live recordings from 1947–1954 from the RIAS archive with Gerhard Taschner, Yehudi Menuhin and the Berliner Philharmoniker (audite, 13-CD box)
  • Edition Wilhelm Furtwängler - RIAS recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic on 14 LPs , live recordings from the years 1947–1954 from the RIAS archive with the Berliner Philharmoniker (audite, 14-LP box)

Orchestral works

  • Franz Schubert :
    • Symphony No. 8 , recording with the Berlin Philharmonic , 1948. Further recordings: 1952 and 1953 with the Berlin Philharmonic
    • Symphony No. 9 , live recording of a performance with the Berliner Philharmoniker , 1942 (Deutsche Grammophon, Magic Master, Music and Arts, Opus Kura, Tahra). Further recordings: 1951 and 1953 with the Berliner Philharmoniker
    • Overture, Entr'acte No. 3 and Ballet No. 2 from Rosamunde , recording with the Vienna Philharmonic , January / February 1951. Further recordings of the overture: 1930 (incl. Entr'acte No. 3) and 1953 with the Berlin Philharmonic . Another recording of Ballet No. 2: 1929 with the Berlin Philharmonic



  • Hugo Wolf :
    • Lieder (Der Salzburger Liederabend), recording from August 1953 with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (piano: Wilhelm Furtwängler)


Orchestral works

  • Overture in E flat major, Op. 3 (1899), WF 84
  • Symphony in D major: Allegro (1903, partly fragment, partly lost), WF 107
  • Festive Overture in F major (1904), WF 108
  • [Symphony movement in B minor: Allegro Molto; Fragment] (1905), WF 109
  • [Symphony No. 1 in B minor], WF 110
    • Adagio in B minor (1905), WF 110a
    • Symphony No. 1 in B minor (1905–1940, revised until 1947), WF 110b
    • [Trio from the second movement of Symphony No. 1] (c. 1940, withdrawn), WF 110c
  • Symphonic Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in B minor (1920–1937, revised 1954), WF 114
  • Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1944–1945), WF 119
  • Symphony No. 3 in c sharp minor (1946–1954), WF 120

Chamber music

  • early chamber music (string quartet, cello sonata etc.)
  • Trio for violin, cello and piano in E major (1900), WF 86
  • Quintet for piano and string quartet in C major (1912–1935), WF 112
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in D minor (1916–1935), WF 113
  • Sonata for violin and piano No. 2 in D major (1938–1939), WF 115

Choral works

  • The first Walpurgis Night [sic] (JW von Goethe) for four solo voices, 2 choirs and ensemble (1897–1898); WF 65
  • I walked under the trees (Heinrich Heine) for soprano and alto solos, women's choir and piano (1898), WF 69
  • Choir (Goethe): Shrinking your dark arches for choir and orchestra (after Goethe's Faust I ) (1902), WF 104
  • Religious hymn (Goethe): O du Jungfrau, highest ruler of the world for soprano and tenor solo, choir and orchestra (1903), WF 106
  • Te Deum for four solo voices, choir and orchestra (1902–1909), WF 111

Piano works

  • Early piano pieces (fantasies, fugues, etc.)


Solo part and piano

  • A Piece of the Animals (1893), WF 1
  • The violet (1894–1895), WF 13
  • Voided Tears (1895), WF 25
  • You send me, friend, songs (1895), WF 26
  • The Fatherland (1896), WF 49
  • Memory (Goethe) (1897), WF 57
  • Patience (1897), WF 58
  • Longing (1898), WF 67
  • Falling leaves (1898,?), WF 73
  • Remembrance (Körner) (1898,?), WF 74
  • Ganymede (1898,?), WF 75
  • Nebel (1898,?), WF 76
  • [Untitled] When the Angels Play the Harp (1st version) (1898,?), WF 77
  • Song: [When the angels play the harp (2nd version)] (1898,?), WF 78
  • The Treasure Digger (1898,?), WF 79
  • The sad hunter (1898,?), WF 80
  • The Soldier (1899), WF 83
  • Seagull Flight (1900), WF 87
  • Wanderer's Night Song (1900), WF 88
  • On the lake (1900), WF 90
  • Autumn Feeling (1902), WF 100

Duet for high and low voice and piano

  • Wanderlied (1895), WF 39

Recordings of Furtwängler's works

Orchestral works

Chamber music

  • Adagio for violin, cello and piano Op.IV No.1, WF 47
    • The New Arca Trio - Caroline Doerge, Roberto Ranfaldi, Massimo Macrì (1998)
  • Violin Sonata I in A minor, WF 81
    • Roberto Ranfaldi, Caroline Doerge (1998)
    • Mina Tanaka, Kanae Furumoto (2011)
  • Quartet for violin, viola, cello and piano in C minor, WF 82
    • Kumiko Mano, Kaori Matsumura, Yuu Nirasawa, Saori Zetsu (2011)
  • Trio for violin, cello and piano in E major, WF 86
    • Asako Yoshikawa, Yuu Nakata, Keiko Namiki (1999)
    • Kumiko Mano, Yuu Nirasawa, Saori Zetsu (2011)
  • Quintet for piano and string quartet in C major, WF 112
    • Daniele Bellik, Quatuor Elyseen (1979)
    • François Kerdoncuff, Quatuor Sine Nomine (1993)
    • Clarens Quintet (2003)
  • Sonata for violin and piano No. 1 in D minor, WF 113
    • Dong-Suk Kang, François Kerdoncuff (1994)
    • Annette Unger, Brunhild Webersinke (1997)
    • Matthias Wollong , Birgitta Wollenweber (2004)
    • Bettina Boller, Walter Prossnitz (2007)
    • Sophie Moser, Katja Huhn (2010)
    • Mina Tanaka, Kanae Furumoto (2011)
  • Sonata for violin and piano No. 2 in D major, WF 115
    • Wolfgang Müller-Nishio, Rudolf Dennemarck (1971)
    • Alexis Galpérine, François Kerdoncuff (1989)
    • Nakako Yokoyama, Miyuki Washimiya (2004)
    • Matthias Wollong, Birgitta Wollenweber (2004)
    • Sophie Moser, Katja Huhn (2008)

Choral works

  • Choir: Schwindet, ihr dark vaults for choir and orchestra (based on Goethe's Faust I ), WF 104
  • Religious hymn (Goethe): O du Jungfrau, highest ruler of the world for soprano and tenor solo, choir and orchestra, WF 106
    • Singakademie Frankfurt (Oder), Alfred Walter (1993)
  • Te Deum for four solo voices, choir and orchestra, WF 111
    • Edith Mathis , Sieglinde Wagner , Georg Jelden, William Dooley, Wilhelm Kempff (organ), Berlin Philharmonic Choir , Berlin Philharmonic, Hans Chemin-Petit (1967)
    • Bernadette Degelin, Christiane Röhr-Bach, Guido Pikal, Wolfgang Klose, Singakademie Frankfurt (Oder), Alfred Walter (1993)
    • Christine Schäfer, Gabriele Schreckenbach, Frieder Lang, Michael Kraus, Academic Choir Latvija, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Martin Fischer-Dieskau (1994)
    • Sayuri Ota, Aya Kashiwagi, Tsutomu Kobayashi, Kentaro Yoshikawa, Koichi Tachibana (organ), The Furtwängler 50th Memorial Choir, Philharmonic Orchestra of the Furtwängler-Institute Tokyo, Takeo Noguchi (2004)

Piano works

  • 6 works for piano (theme with variations in C major, WF 60; Sonata Opus II in C minor, WF 53; Fuga in E major, WF 71; Fuga II in B major, WF 72; Fantasy I in D minor, WF 93 ; Fantasy II in C minor, WF 94)
    • Robert Rivard (1985)
  • Sonata in D minor for piano, WF 68
    • Caroline Doerge (1998)
  • 2 works for piano (Adagio Op. II No. VIII B minor, WF 43; Waltz in A major, WF 16)
    • Ute Neumerkel (2008)
  • Three pieces for piano, WF 103b
    • Mitsutaka Shiraishi (2002)


  • 11 songs: The sad hunter, WF 80; The Treasure Digger, WF 79; Patience, WF 58; On the lake, WF 90; You send me songs, friend, WF 26; Memory (Goethe), WF 57; The Fatherland, WF 49; Seagull Flight, WF 87; Song (when the angels play the harp), WF 78; Memory (Körner), WF 74; The soldier, WF 83
    • Guido Pikal - tenor, Alfred Walter - piano (1993)
  • 21 songs (complete recording): Blätterfall, WF 73; [untitled] When the angels play the harp (1st version), WF 77; On the lake, WF 90; Sehnsucht, WF 67; Memory (grains), WF74; Nebel, WF 76; Seagull Flight, WF 87; Autumn feeling, WF 100; Wanderer's Night Song I, WF 88; The Soldier, WF 83; The sad hunter, WF 80; Memory (Goethe), WF 57; The Fatherland, WF 49; The Treasure Digger, WF 79; Song: When the angels play the harp (2nd version), WF78; Patience, WF 58; You send me songs, friend, WF 26; Ganymede, WF 75; Wanderer's Night Song II, WF 88; Voided Tears, WF 25; A Bit of the Animals, WF 1; The violet, WF 13
    • Ute Neumerkel - vocals and piano, Daniel Lorenzo - piano (WF 74, WF 49) (2007)



  • Swastika and sparks of the gods - the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. Film portrait, Germany, 2001, 59 min., Written and directed: Karin Reiss, Sissy von Westphalen, production: SFB , series: German CVs .
  • Wilhelm Furtwängler. An artist between the grinding stones of politics. Film portrait, BR Germany, 1979, 85 min., Written and directed by Lothar Seehaus, production: ZDF .

See also

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Furtwängler  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl Alexander von Müller : Am Rand der Geschichte, Munich 1957, p. 147 f.
  2. ^ Günter Zschacke : Furtwängler in Lübeck. The years 1911–1915 as reflected in the letters from Lilli Dieckmann to her mother in Dresden. Edited by "Orchesterfreunde - Verein Konzertaal der Hansestadt Lübeck e.V." , Lübeck 2000
  3. “The association appointed the concert conductor and from then on Lübeck became a springboard for young talents . On Ugo Afferni followed Hermann Abendroth, Wilhelm Furtwängler, who with Gustav Mahler befriended George Göhler and afterwards became Bayreuth -Dirigent Franz von Hoesslin , Karl Mannstaedt, Edwin Fischer , Eugen Jochum , Ludwig Leschetitzki and Heinz Dressel . "

    - Moving orchestral history by Günter Zschacke , In: Die Tonkunst , October 2013, No. 4, vol. 7 (2013), ISSN  1863-3536 , p. 498
  4. Cf. on this in general Fred K. Prieberg: Kraftprobe. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich. Wiesbaden 1986.
  5. a b quote from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, p. 133.
  6. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, p. 92.
  7. Berliner Tageblatt from 11./12. April 1933.
  8. ^ Friedrich Herzfeld : Wilhelm Furtwängler. Way and essence. Leipzig 1941, pp. 93-96.
  9. See Johannes Althoff: Die Philharmonie . Berlin 2002, p. 31f.
  10. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich. Wiesbaden 1986, p. 73.
  11. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 209 and 323.
  12. ^ Wilhelm Furtwängler. The programs of the concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 1922–1954 . Wiesbaden 2nd edition 1965, pp. 29-30.
  13. Long farewell . In: Der Spiegel . No. 23 , 1989 ( online - mentioned; emphasis is on Mies van der Rohe).
  14. ^ Wilhelm Furtwängler: The Hindemith case . In: Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , Berlin, November 25, 1934.
  15. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 190-194.
  16. ^ Pronunciation between Dr. Goebbels and Furtwängler . In: Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , March 1, 1935 (morning edition), p. 1.
  17. Herbert Haffner: Furtwängler , Berlin 2003, pp. 208-210.
  18. berliner-philharmoniker.de
  19. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 244-246, 303-307, 234, 267, 284, 393 f., 286 f.
  20. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 259, 260, 297-299.
  21. ^ Friedrich Herzfeld: Wilhelm Furtwängler. Weg und Wesen , Leipzig 1941, pp. 98 ff., 108 ff.
  22. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 380-383, 336, 400 f., 294, 373 f., 399-402.
  23. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 254-259.
  24. ^ Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 171.
  25. ^ Cit. Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986; Quoted from Herbert Haffner: Furtwängler . Berlin 2003; Eberhard Straub: The Furtwänglers. History of a German Family , Munich 2007.
  26. Quotation from Fred K. Prieberg: Trial of strength. Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich . Wiesbaden 1986, pp. 14-27.
  27. ^ Johannes Althoff: The Philharmonic . Berlin 2002, p. 32.
  28. Henning Smidth Olsen: Wilhelm Furtwängler concert programs, operas and lectures 1947 to 1954 , FA Brockhaus Wiesbaden 1972, p. 7.
  29. "The Furtwangler Legacy" , BBC, November 2004.
  30. Joachim Kaiser : Professor Dr. Joachim Kaiser, the most influential German music critic, answers readers' questions in his video column. This time: Why is Wilhelm Furtwängler considered the greatest conductor of all time? ( Memento of the original from October 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin Blog, September 2009. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / sz-magazin.sueddeutsche.de
  31. “Perhaps the greatest conductor in history”, Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la musique, December 2004, p. 62.
  32. ^ Harold Schönberg, The great conductors , Simon and Schuster, 1967.
  33. John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994.
  34. ^ John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 18.
  35. John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, pp. 19-20.
  36. Beethoven, CD Furtwängler, Beethoven's Choral Symphony , Tahra FURT 1101–1104, p. 28.
  37. ^ John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 21.
  38. ^ John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 22.
  39. a b c d Patrick Szersnovicz: Le Monde de la musique (French). December 2004, pp. 62-67.
  40. ^ John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 25.
  41. ^ Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm , Paris, 2004, p. 32.
  42. ^ John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, Portland, Amadeus press, 1994, p. 22.
  43. SchenkerGUIDE By Tom Pankhurst, p. 5 ff.
  44. Schenker Documents Online ( Memento of the original dated November 7, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.schenkerdocumentsonline.org
  45. Sami Habra, CD Furtwängler, Beethoven's Choral Symphony , Tahra FURT 1101–1104, p. 18.
  46. Luciane Beduschi, Nicolas Meeùs: Theory and Analysis on Schenker (French).
  47. ^ Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm , Paris, 2004, p. 54.
  48. CD Furtwängler, Beethoven's Choral Symphony , Tahra FURT 1101–1104, p. 19.
  49. ^ David Cairns, CD Beethoven's 5th and 6th Symphonies, 427 775-2, DG, 1989, p. 16.
  50. John Ardoin, The Furtwängler Record, 1994, p. 12.
  51. Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la musique, December 2004, p. 66.
  52. CD Wilhelm Furtwängler, his legendary post-war recordings , Tahra, harmonia mundi distribution, FURT 1054/1057, p. 15.
  53. ^ Yehudi Menuhin, DVD The Art of Conducting - Great Conductors of the Past, Elektra / Wea, 2002.
  54. ^ Wilhelm Furtwängler, Carnets 1924–1954, 1995, p. 103.
  55. Joachim Kaiser: Kaisers Klassik, 100 masterpieces of music. Schneekluth Verlag, Munich 1995 (page 17)
  56. Joachim Kaiser: Kaisers Klassik, 100 masterpieces of music. Schneekluth Verlag, Munich 1995 (page 178)
  57. ^ Elisabeth Furtwängler, Pour Wilhelm, 2004, p. 55.
  58. Gérard Géfen, Furtwängler, une Biographie par le disque , Belfond, 1986, p. 51.
  59. Leins Hermann, Diener der Musik, edited by Martin Müller and Wolfgang Mertz, Rainer Wunderlich Verlag, 1965, pp. 180–187.
  60. CD Wilhelm Furtwängler The Legend , 9 08119 2, EMI, 2011, p. 7.
  61. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jupiter and I: Encounters with Furtwängler, Berlin University Press, 2009 ( ISBN 978-3-940432-66-7 ).
  62. theguardian.com Interview of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau for The Guardian.
  63. Yehudi Menuhin, “La légende du violon”, Flammarion, 2009, p. 242.
  64. ^ DVD The Art of Conducting - Great Conductors of the Past, Elektra / Wea, 2002.
  65. John Ardoin 's The Furtwängler Record , Amadeus Press, 1994, p. 12.
  66. a b c d DVD Furtwängler's Love - Film Essay by Jan Schmidt-Garre, Arthaus Musik GmbH, 2008.
  67. ^ Wilhelm Furtwängler, The Musician and His Audience, Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1955
  68. ^ Wilhelm Furtwängler, Conversations about Music, Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1949
  69. ^ Inscription Deutschordenshof, Singerstraße: Wilhelm Furtwängler 1952 (accessed on June 12, 2014)
  70. ^ Die Zeit , Zeit Geschichte No. 1 2008, p. 46.
  71. ^ "The life and failure of Furtwängler" , Deutschlandradio Kultur , November 6, 2007.
  72. ^ German Films: Film Info: Longing for Germany - Wilhelm Furtwaengler. Retrieved February 6, 2019 .