We are deeply saddened to announce that Sami Habra passed away yesterday at the age of 88.
As you may know, he was one of the founding members of the SWF, to which he devoted part of his life.
It is hard not to recall the hundreds of lectures he gave over the decades, peppered with anecdotes and ‘bon mots’ – a delight for his listeners.
He was also a significant contributor to the development of our society’s discography.
He was also admired for his extensive musical knowledge, which he was happy to share. He had the opportunity to meet Eugen Jochum and Otto Klemperer, among others, and became friends with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt.
With the passing of Sami Habra, the SWF loses its patriarch and a whole part of its history vanishes.
A very modest man, those who knew him knew that he didn’t like praise or thanks, but we can’t help saying: “Thank you Sami for everything you’ve given us!”
We would like to express our deepest sympathy and emotion to his children, grandchildren and family.
Sami Habra and Elisabeth Furtwängler at the 20th anniversary of the SWF, 22 April 1989 in Vincennes.
Furtwängler was a regular at the Philharmonia concerts between 1950 and his death. We have already published facsimiles of two programmes.
Here is another one, that of the concert of 24 April 1952 at the Royal Albert Hall. Ask for the program!
The faithful Roger Smithson obtained the memories of Gerald Kingsley, then a young music student, who attended this concert, as he was present at many others conducted by the maestro.
Furtwängler and the Philharmonia at the Royal Albert Hall
The Wilhelm Furtwängler Centre of Japan announces two new releases.
WFHC-050/52 (price: US$ 34,50)
César Franck : Symphony in D minor
Johannes Brahms : Symphony No.2
VPO – Vienna 28 January 1945
Beethoven : Symphony No.1 – BPO, Berlin 19 September 1954
Beethoven : Overture Leonore II – BPO, Berlin 18 October 1948
Brahms : Symphonie No.2 – BPO, Munich 7 May 1952
WFHC-047/9 (price: US$ 46,60)
J.-S. Bach : Suite No.3
Brahms : Symphony No.4
BPO – Berlin 22 October 1948
J.-S. Bach : Suite No.3
Schubert : Symphony No.8
Brahms : Symphony No.4
BPO – Berlin 24 October 1948
The above price is indicative (exchange rate), including postal charges, but without membership.
Information and orders: directly to WFCJ
The list of Furtwängler concerts has more than 2500 records, almost all filled in: date, venue, works performed, soloists, etc. A lot of details. Much of this list is based on the work done by René Trémine 30 years ago. Since then, the list has been completed, corrected by a multitude of small contributions, but which allow, in the long run, to make the inventory reliable.
One example among others. The concert in Lübeck on 11 October 1913 announced:
– Strauss : Sinfonia Domestica
– Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 (soloist: Alice Ripper)
– Weber: Overture to Oberon
– Brahms: Hungarian Dance No.?
suggesting that the orchestra had finished the concert with one of the 21 Hungarian Dances, orchestrated by Brahms (he only did 3) or another musician..
Reading a review of the time dispels any misunderstanding. In fact, the Hungarian Dance — No. 6 in D flat Major — constituted an encore played on keyboard by Alice Ripper at the end of the Liszt Concerto and before Oberon.
Admittedly, this is not much, but a Furtwängler Society would not fulfill its mission by missing out on such information, as slight as it may be.
As announced a week ago, the new product is now available for download: Beethoven’s Fifth, recorded in Copenhagen on 1 October 1950. We would have liked to include the Unfinished. This was not possible, but the SWF is on the trail of another suitable source for this masterpiece, so this should only be a postponement…
The digital pack includes: the audio files (HD and CD quality), a digital booklet (French and English), and printing material for the cover and inlay card of a CD box for those who want to burn the files.
Slightly more than a year ago, and thanks to the assistance of the SWF, Warner Classics was able to obtain from Henning Smidth the tape of the Unfinished performed by the Vienna Philharmonic in Copenhagen on 1 October 1950. The restoration carried out by Christophe Hénault turned it into one of the jewels — provided as a bonus — of Warner’s 55 CD box set. This year, Beethoven’s Fifth, from the same concert, has been added to the “Beethoven-Furtwängler” box set that Warner recently released. We decided to provide you with both in high definition download, using the masters prepared by Christophe Hénault. Most of the work consisted of bringing it back to the right pitch, removing some disturbing noises, and revising some awkward editing in the Fifth.
The tape of the Unfinished has recently become the property of the Wilhelm Furtwängler Centre of Japan. We asked them for permission to publish it using the work of Christophe Hénault. Unfortunately we had to decline the conditions set by our counterparts, and we can only bring you the Fifth…
Listen to the extract
The product will be available on 19 May — and as usual in both high definition and CD formats. We have slightly increased the unit price from €8 to €10, which is still very affordable. As we are only providing you with half of the programme, we have made it available for €5.
The basic price of previous editions has been increased to €9.
This concert was part of a tour, and the orchestra travelled to the Scandinavian countries accompanied by charming models for a “fashion week” in Stockholm.
If we have been able to publish many programmes (in pdf format) of Furtwängler conducting the Berliner or the Wiener, the same cannot be said about the Leipzig Gewandhaus, of which he was the titular conductor from Autumn 1922 to Spring 1928. Thus such a publication — in this case the programme of 26 February 1925 — is rather rare.
To view the programme.
Our long-time member Angelo Scottini — author of the superlative study Furtwängler in Italy — is to thank for an exceptional programme, that of Furtwängler’s return to the orchestra on Sunday, April 6, 1947.
Having been confined to Switzerland and finally rehabilitated after more than two years of silence, it was in Italy, in Rome and then in Florence, that he made his comeback with the Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia.
Download the programme.
« Everybody can’t be an orphan… »
Jules Renard, Poil de carotte
A month ago we issued the programme for the February 13, 1942 concert. It was a follow-up to the BPO’s tour through Scandinavian countries. Here is the programme, to be downloaded, of the concert that preceded this journey, on January 11, 1942.
It featured an exceptionally gifted artist, the violinist Guila Bustabo. Her fate refers to the quote in the title…
Is it a programme? Is it a poster? In any case, when classified among our “Get the programme!” documents, it takes the number one spot. Dated December 13th, 1914, it shows the details of a concert in Lübeck by the Verein-Orchester conducted by Furtwängler for the benefit of the Red Cross. Nobody knew then that this institution would have much to do over the next four years…
Portrait by his mother, ca. 1915