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20 October 2023


The topic has been mentioned on several occasions: the SWF will soon (first weeks of November) be providing its members with a new way of enjoying performances of Furtwängler produced by the association: streaming.

Let’s remember that streaming consists of listening to audio files live and uninterrupted, without having to import them, a bit like on a radio, except that you choose your own programme from the many on offer; and what is in high definition remains so. So this is a world away from listening to mp3 files on YouTube!

Of course, this service will only be available to SWF members, via the SWF website, with an annual subscription fee of €10.

Initially, the digital “warehouse” will include:
– the 12 SWF Dxx albums, i.e. the digital packs currently available for download;
– a number of CDs, including the 1954 Paris concert, the 1943 Meistersinger, Bruckner’s 9th

We will gradually add our own extensive catalogue, as well as a number of releases from the Wilhelm Furtwängler Gesellschaft, i.e. produced by our German counterpart.

It should be noted that:
– We have taken into account those who want to listen to these files on their smartphone;
– No booklet is included with these playlists, as booklets are only available as downloads;
– You will be able to access these audio files either by targeting a specific work or by listening to an entire album. For example, if you ask to listen to Brahms’s Haydn Variations, you will be given access (once everything is online) to all the versions available from the SWF: VPO 1943, Berlin 1943, BPO 1950, Hamburg 1951, Paris 1954… with a link to the complete original album concerned. The choice is yours.

This will in no way stop the SWF from carrying on its work on structured editorial projects, which will be available in the future for both downloading and streaming.

11 October 2023

Rarely do we get the chance to entertain our members with Furtwängler as the subject. Let’s make the most of it.

In 1927, The Paris Times, a Parisian daily, but English-language and American-inspired, published an article entitled “The Man of the Day” featuring Furtwängler. If it weren’t for his photo, you might think it was a case of mistaken identity… But no, it was our conductor. Unfortunately, the article is not signed. What a shame! We’d have liked to know the author of such blunders…

Click here to enjoy.

30 September 2023

The SWF regularly acquires programmes of concerts conducted by Furtwängler. But you may also contribute: if you come across one of these precious documents, please think of us all.

This is what one of our members did — many thanks to him — by providing us with the programme of the concerts performed by the Berliner from 13 to 16 November 1943. Here it is.

Its distinctive characteristics include the presence of a French soloist, the great Pierre Fournier for Schumann’s Concerto, and one of the rare performances of Bruckner’s 6th Symphony.

25 September 2023

For various reasons, it will not be possible for us to dispatch ‘physical’ discs (CDs) between 1 October and 10 November.

Please place your orders in the shop now or wait until 10 November.

Thank you for your understanding.

23 September 2023

Nils-Göran Olve, one of our Swedish correspondents, is the son of a violinist who played for a long time in the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, hence under Furtwängler’s baton.
He participated in our recently released album SWF D12, writing the booklet with Göran Soderval. He did so while he did not yet have the restoration done by the SWF, knowing only previous editions. After downloading and listening to the album, he sent us the following comment.

“I’ve now listened carefully to your new issue, and my admiration for the performances and the sound restoration only grows! Compared with the previous releases that I know there is more transparency and less disturbing reminders that these were acetates or lacquers which were stored for a quarter-century before being rescued in the 1960s. I was also afraid that the tapes had deteriorated from the half-century which elapsed before SWF bought the new digital transfer. Yes, the sound of the full orchestra is not always quite undistorted, and there is background noise. But I felt I had not given proper attention to the music-making. Don Juan is interesting throughout. The Tristan Prelude is at an ideal pace, and in the Liebestod I don’t miss the soprano part — in fact, Furtwängler makes a case for the orchestral version as an interesting alternative when he lets the orchestra unleash its full power in a way which is impossible if you don’t want to drown you Isolde!

But best of all is the Ninth which I will have to compare with other Furtwängler performances, because this strikes me as just about perfect for my taste which has not been the case with Furtwängler Ninths before. Isn’t this swifter than his 1950s recordings, and therefore more to my taste? Yet there is freedom and time for the wind soloists to make memorable contributions. I believe you used the word “serene” and I agree — in the slow movement particularly one can imagine Furtwängler to remain forever in this rapt atmosphere, and not have to return to his country until war was over.

So congratulations, and I hope it sells well so that more people can hear it!

15 September 2023

The new digital album can be downloaded from the shop:

Furtwängler and the Stockholm Philharmonic 1942-1943

Dedicated to the memory of our friend Sami Habra, it brings together two original recordings made by the Swedish Radio, which provided us with digitised sources:
– 25 November 1942: Strauss’ Don Juan, Prelude and Isolde’s Death from Wagner’s Tristan;
– 8 December 1943: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Furtwängler conducted the orchestra of the Stockholm Concert Society, the future Philharmonic.

These two programmes have had varying success on disc. The background noise, which was quite present for the 1942 concert, had led previous publishers to filter the sources drastically. Christophe Hénault and we decided to limit the processing, enough to ensure a comfortable listening experience, but not too much so that the musical information is not undermined. Fortunately, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is of much better sound quality. We included the long silences between I and II and between II and III, as well as the applause.

The booklet, written by Nils-Göran Olve and Göran Södervall, provides a wealth of valuable information about Furtwängler’s activities in Sweden during the war years.

Any Furtwängler enthusiast should own this singular testimony to the conductor’s art, which is very different from other, often overexcited, performances from the same period.

This product is available at a price of €13.

9 September 2023

If the 1929 Jena Music Festival, an all-Brahms event, was without equivalent — four major orchestral concerts, including the Deutsches Requiem, and concerts of chamber music and Lieder — the 1930 Festival was all about saving money. Was the budget overspent the previous year?

Only two events on the programme: a recital — but not just any recital! — by Maria Ivogün, and a Berliner concert conducted by Furtwängler, in fact a stopover on their major Spring tour.

Link to the facsimile of the brochure.

4 September 2023

Just over seventy years ago, on 4 September 1953, Furtwängler began his penultimate season. With the Vienna Philharmonic, he performed a concert in Munich, in the Congress Hall of the Deutsches Museum, before flying to Edinburgh and its festival for a series of concerts with the same orchestra.

We already heard the sound — the SWF has published Egmont and Beethoven’s 4th — but here’s the image, a snapshot taken during the ‘Sitzprobe’.

29 August 2023

In mid-September a new album will be available for download:

Furtwängler and the Stockholm Philharmonic – 1942-1943

It features what has been preserved of the concerts given by the Stockholms Konsertförenings orkester — the future Royal Stockholm Philharmonic:
– 25 November 1942: Strauss’s Don Juan; Prelude and Isolde’s death from Wagner’s Tristan;
– 8 December 1943: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Although Don Juan is not entirely ‘mature’, Prelude and Isolde’s Death, from Wagner’s Tristan, are infused with passion. But above all Beethoven’s 9th catches the attention. Far from the somewhat frenetic dramatisation of Berlin, it sounds serene, unfolding with simplicity as if the musicians were discovering the work. The orchestra is flawless, the soloists rare in their subtlety, and the choirs have never been so ‘readable’. Do not compare this performance with those of Berlin, Bayreuth or Lucerne. This is a different world.

The value of this reissue also lies in the work carried out by Christophe Hénault to ensure that these documents are released in the best possible conditions. We managed to obtain high-definition files from Swedish Radio. The restoration work focused mainly on removing the background noise. It should be remembered that these recordings were originally made on steel tape (“Blattnerphone”) or magnetic tape, then, for financial reasons, transferred to 33 rpm 40 cm discs. It was only in the mid-1960s that these records were transferred back to magnetic tape, which has now been digitised.

Nils-Göran Olve and Göran Södervall, who previously documented the Deutsches Requiem published a few years ago, have written a highly documented text that reviews Furtwängler’s appearances between 1940 and 1943, and provides us with little-known information.

This product (almost the equivalent of a CD and a half) will be available at a price of €13. As before, in addition to the booklets, the audio files will be available in both high definition and CD quality. In addition, you will be able to print the covers and inlay cards of the CDs (two boxes required), if you wish to burn them.

13 July 2023

We could have ended the 22-23 season with the sad news of Sami Habra’s passing. Let’s close it by announcing a rather rich new season to come, which our friend would not have disavowed.

The Board recently had the pleasure of welcoming the President of the German Furtwängler Society, Helge Grünewald, with whom we will be forging closer links, pooling our resources. Further details will be announced in September.

Mid-September will mark the release of our new digital product, featuring recordings from Stockholm Radio, and in particular Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Stockholm, December 1943). Often neglected, it hides many secrets, revealed at last by the release of high-definition files provided by the Swedish Radio.

We will also be launching our YouTube channel and a “streaming” platform, which will gradually include all our products, even those that are currently out of stock. Here too, more details to come in late August/early September.

We wish you a wonderful summer.

10 July 2023

Andreas Furtwängler (son of Wilhelm and Elisabeth) evokes Sami Habra.

… Yes, I remember well the lectures that Sami organized, where he compared different interpretations, lectures well followed by friends of “Furt.”. When I studied in Paris from 1969 to 1970, I often met him: we sometimes went to lunch together because he worked at the bank of Lebanon and I was nearby, at the National Library. At that time he wore a vest in which he placed huge pocket watches, which he took out from time to time to impress some ladies in restaurants. It was very fun! My daughter Elisabeth stayed at his home in Versailles, he was a family friend, who came a few times to Switzerland and finally to Heidelberg at my mother’s funeral.

5 July 2023

The Sami Habra’s funeral will take place:

On Tuesday 11 July at 11:00 am.
in the church Notre-Dame
35, rue de la Paroisse
F – 78000 Versailles

Rue de la Paroisse (église Notre-Dame)
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