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30 March 2018

For Christians, this Friday is like no other, being Holy Friday and the occasion for celebrating Christ’s Passion.

How better to illustrate this than by evoking Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion? Furtwängler conducted many performances of it — nearly forty! And almost 80 years later, here is a facsimile of the programme for the Matthew Passion given in Vienna on 23 November 1938, with a superlative distribution: Jo Vincent, Louis von Tulder, Margarete Klose… and the Singverein of the Society of the Friends of Music, not forgetting the Little Singers of Vienna.

The rarity of the programme will enable you to overlook the condition of the document. As always, the latter is also available from the concert.

Modification of ‘Actualités’ (Current news): so that the listed news does not get too out of date on the website, it is transferred after 4 months to the page ‘Voir l’actu ancienne’ (See earlier news), reserved for members.

26 March 2018

The SWF continues to acquire concert programmes, thus enriching its collection. Within a few days that for the Saint Matthew Passion given in Vienna in November 1938 will be made available online.

Among recently acquired programmes is a whole series with the Vienna Philharmonic from 1948 to 1952. The interesting point: these leaflets seem to have belonged to one and the same music-lover, an assiduous listener who sometimes annotated this or that page in pencil, inserting press cuttings of reviews — and he read several newspapers! — as well as the concert ticket.

The annotations, written in fraktur, a cursive German script, are difficult to decipher, having been probably quickly scribbled during the concert. Palaeontologists take note!

22 March 2018

We are currently working on the first purely ‘digital’ product in our catalogue: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in the 1942 Berlin recording.

We chose this ‘indispensable’ recording for its emblematic character — it was one of our first LPs and one of our first CDs — and also because the CD stock is now exhausted. To repress it would be needlessly expensive. On the other hand, and for those who do not like downloading, a system of engraving on demand is being studied.

Even so, just to transform a CD into a downloadable audio file presents little interest, and it is something that all classical labels do. The SWF, by contrast, is proving itself particularly innovative: we are making available to our members a digital pack that is much more comprehensive, worthy of our editorial tradition and going beyond the norms of the platforms.

Also, in addition to the CD quality audio file (flac format) — and its mp3 compression for those who prefer it, we include in this downloadable pack, as a pdf file and in the now well-known format of our publications:
– an introductory note,
– an exhaustive presentation (digital booklet) with the very fine and ever relevant text of Harry Halbreich, the biographies of the artistes, a list of the ‘Philharmoniker’ of the time, and, not least, an iconography,
– the digital booklet in French,
– a colour facsimile of the concert programme of 22 March 1942,
– a list of the Ninths conducted by Furtwängler..

This product will be on sale to our members at the price of 8€. We plan to release it early May 2018, and are currently working on the final preparations.

NB: The Japanese Brahms CD, announced in the latest newsletter, is now available in our online shop.

16 March 2018

The Wilhelm Furtwängler Centre of Japan has released a Brahms CD with Furtwängler conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, a transfer from commercial 78 records (EMI): the First Symphony (1947) and the Haydn Variations (1949). Unlike previous releases of the same origin that presented the works in detached sections (the sides of the 78 records one at a time) and then in ‘real size’, here we have the works in their continuity. Whereas the Variations have never been out of the catalogues, the same has not been true for the Symphony, this recording having been eclipsed over the years by the Hamburg, Amsterdam, even Berlin versions. And yet…

We decided to order a certain number of copies. The product will thus soon be available in our online shop — we shall let you know!

9 March 2018

In former times a festival was held regularly, though not annually, in Görlitz, the second city of Silesia after Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland). The Berlin Philharmonic took part from 1910 onwards, but these “Silesian Music Festivals” were distinguished by six concerts during the three “Furtwängler years” of 1925, 1928 and 1931.

Stéphane Topakian invites you to revisit these occasions at a conference, in both sound (excerpts from each of the 23 works played) and vision (numerous illustrations, many from the period), with technical assistance from Patrick Montaigu. It will take place on 28 March — see details on our Conferences page.

5 March 2018

A deficiency in the Furtwängler discography is that we don’t have a single composition of Reger from his baton. It’s true that he did not conduct a note of Reger after his return to the podium in 1947. And even being optimistic, only the Variations on a theme of J A Hiller, which featured in the programme of a concert in Berlin in January 1943 (which also included Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the young Geza Anda), stand even a slight chance of returning from the void.

And yet, without claiming to be a Reger enthusiast, Furtwängler still supported him, programming his music some 70 times! To shed more light on this, the SWF has published a brief study by Stéphane Topakian, listing his performances of Reger’s works and suggesting an approach to the relationship between the two musicians.

This study is only available to members.