News

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24 May 2024

We didn't know that. Furtwängler conducted Tristan und Isolde at the Frankfurt Opera, as guest conductor. This was in June 1921 — when exactly? — before the 28th. The only evidence of this, at least for the moment, is an insert in the evening edition of the Hamburger Fremdenblatt, dated Tuesday, June 28. Recall that Furtwängler had been the leader of Frankfurt's Museumkonzerte since 1920.

Apparently it was a success, also because of the presence, in the role of Isolde, of Béatrice Lauer-Kottlar (1883-1935), who later became better known as Sutter-Kottlar after her marriage to Otto Sutter, a pressman. After Strasbourg ( did she meet the young Furtwängler there?) and Karlsruhe, she had been based at the Frankfurt Opera since 1917, where she performed major dramatic roles: Donna Anna, Leonore, Brünnhilde, The Marschallin...

Does anyone know more about it?

17 May 2024

We recently published Furtwängler's recording of Bruckner's last Eighth, from Vienna 1954, with a facsimile of the accompanying program.

Here is the facsimile of the program of another Eighth, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic in Hamburg's Conventgarten on January 7, 1938. The Orchestra's season was held there, and the concert often preceded the one in Berlin, thus serving as a kind of practice run.

The Conventgarten building, Hamburg

10 May 2024

The clearance sale, which started on March 1 and ended on March 22, was a huge success in France and even more so abroad.

Many products are no longer in stock, which was our primary objective. What's left is still available by the unit, but — as we have to empty the entire box by the end of June — it will soon no longer be possible to fulfill orders.

As a result, we have set June 2 as the deadline for ordering CDs and books. From that date, only digital products (SWF D01 to SWF D14) and streaming will be available on this site. Discs from the German Society will nevertheless be presented, but should be ordered from them.

This is a new chapter. It's also the clearest sign of the digital age. There's no need to regret it: despite what some people may think and say, digital technologies provide far more opportunities for exchanges (studies, streaming, podcasts...).

3 May 2024

Of course, Furtwängler did not inspire as many books as Napoleon or Wagner. But still...

Besides his own writings, notably Ton und wort and Gespräche über Musik, which have been translated into several languages, there are a number of books by German, French, American, English and Japanese writers, focusing on various aspects of his personality.

His life, career, technique and conducting style have been the subject of numerous well-documented and pertinent studies.

This bibliography is once again updated.

24 April 2024

This is one of those facsimiles of programs we have been waiting for, as the concert is so emblematic of Furtwängler: his orchestra, in his concert hall, performing his repertoire, at the pinnacle of his career. It was the end of June 1943, and thanks to the recording, the event will live on forever.

Discover the document.

17 April 2024

The Wilhelm Furtwängler Centre of Japan (http://furt-centre.com/english/eindex.htm) recently released a triple album (CD) focusing on Schubert.

The cover, reproduced below, clearly identifies the content. No further comment, except to point out that the 1943 Stockholm Schubert concert was the subject of a product from our association (SWF D06), available as a high-definition download (€9).

The Japanese product is available at a price of 6,500 yen (around €40 or US$43), in addition, of course, to the membership fee.

One point is worth emphasizing: the mastering was carried out with both orchestras (Berlin and Vienna) on the same pitch, A = 443. We'll come back to this point shortly, as it is the subject of much debate.

10 April 2024

You may find our new product in the shop, and available for streaming:

SWF D14

As already mentioned in the last two news items (22 March and 29 March), this is the recording of Bruckner's 8th Symphony on 10 April 1954, in Vienna. 70 years ago...

You will appreciate the outstanding sound we have been able to obtain from the tape, and by the work of Christophe Hénault, who has managed to erase many of the 'scoriae' that tainted the music.

On the home page, you'll find a link to a podcast produced by Guilhem Chameyrat, in which our President, Félix Matus-Echaiz, speaks with Jean-Claude Hulot, music journalist and Bruckner specialist. This podcast is also available to download in the digital pack (and: https://youtu.be/a1KU47jbpiY?si=plGjCra_-vwEETQn), along with:

audio files (HD and CD quality),
– a digital booklet (in French and English), with a text by Mark Kluge, and many photos,

– an article about technical aspects, A tribute to the C12, pdf format,
pdfs of the cover and inlay card, for those wishing to burn a CD (attention: over 80' of music),

– a facsimile of the concert programme.

Lastly, a wish. We have been releasing albums (the recent 'Lucerne', the 'Stockholm Ninth' etc.), but we haven't had any feedback... You are welcome to write a comment to this article. Feel free to do so! 

4 April 2024

We are constantly updating our list of concerts. And some of our members reply to the "wanted notices" we post in the news. This was the case for the concert with the Blüthner Orchester in 1915.

Why is this so? The work carried out over thirty years ago by René Trémine, supplemented by other discoveries — in particular the BPO's list of touring concerts — still constitutes a reliable and exhaustive base, the source of the list of our site.

But the availability of programmes on major orchestras' websites (Vienna Philharmonic and Symphony, New York, Frankfurt...) and above all the digitisation of newspapers from the period mean that it is possible to compare the programmes announced — and often included as such in the 'list' — with the reality of what was actually played, with changes, or even astonishing surprises, that we are eager to incorporate into the database.

Two examples, just for Mannheim, in February 1919:

– On the 8th: the list announced, with pianist Lili Koppel performing, Schumann's Concerto and Liszt's Fantaisie hongroise. In fact, the Orchestra and Furtwängler performed Hungaria, Liszt's symphonic poem, while Koppel, with the same orchestra, performed the Konzertstück opus 40 by Cécile Chaminade as well as Schumann!

– On the 18th: cellist Paul Grümmer was scheduled to perform Eugène d'Albert's Cello Concerto, a premiere in Mannheim. However, due to travel problems, he was replaced at the very last moment by soprano Elfriede Müller (from the Nationaltheater), who sang an aria from Gluck's Alceste. But surprise, surprise: Paul Grümmer had just arrived and, replacing the concerto, he performed Max Reger's Suite for Solo Cello, in A minor, Opus 131 No. 3, which had also been included in the programme.

It's always comforting to think that we still have something to grind.

29 March 2024

We recently announced the release of our next product: Bruckner's 8th Symphony from 1954.

The audio quality of the recording is exceptional, comparable — to stick with the same period — to the Paris concert in May (Radio-télévision française) or Beethoven's 9th in Lucerne (Swiss Radio).

Why? The answer is one word: the C12.

What lies behind this acronym? Read more.

22 March 2024

SWF D14 to be released: Bruckner's 8th from 1954

SWF is releasing a recording of Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, made during a concert in Vienna by the Wiener Philharmoniker on April 10, 1954.

Released on April 10, to mark the 70th anniversary of the concert

This performance has not been well received. When it was first published forty years ago, it even raised doubts: what if it were a fake? No, it is indeed a Furtwängler concert — and his last 8th — but the audio quality of this recording was so deplorable that it tended to be dismissed as a foul-smelling item.

But afterwards, the recording's fate changed, with some very good reissues, and one might wonder whether listeners were struck by deafness. This performance must be heard in the exceptional sound of the recording: phenomenal dynamic gradations ranging from the edges of silence (solos at the end of the Adagio) to the volcanic eruptions of the Finale; a very wide sound spectrum; and an infinite palette of colors... A forthcoming article will shed some much-needed technical light on this.

On closer listening, we discover a performance that matches the conductor's most recent interpretations of Beethoven, Schubert and others — typical of his latest style. Without the excesses of a Celibidache, Furtwängler deploys ample gestures, while remaining perfectly spirited, without the stress of the 1944 interpretation (due to the war). The pinnacle is undoubtedly the Adagio, a vision of another world... He has been criticized for using the "Haslinger" score, i.e. the first edition of 1892, and not the "Haas". Furtwängler was no great admirer of Haas, and it is unclear whether the Philharmonic had the appropriate material. However, as in 1944, Furtwängler made his own slight amendments to the score. Christophe Hénault has devoted all his care to bringing this product to life, notably by removing wowing, tape skips and noises that interfered with the musical content, but without affecting the exceptional sound quality, as exemplified here (Beginning of 2nd movement. Warning: mp3).

This concert will be available for streaming (HD and SD), but we highly recommend downloading it. The digital pack (€10 ) will include:
– a comprehensive booklet with a text by Mark Kluge,
– with inside: a number of previously unpublished snapshots (rehearsals and concerts), such as the one below,
– a technical paper about recording,
– a facsimile of the programme,
– a podcast interview with Bruckner specialist Jean-Claude Hulot (Diapason, Res Musica…).

Wikipedia, the high priest of supposedly reliable information, states in its French article about the 8th Symphony, with reference to this recording: « The 1954 [version] is to be avoided: the interpretation lacks tension and the acoustics are poor... » Let the writer of this laconic judgment listen to the SWF publication!

Rehearsal, April 9, 1954

15 March 2024

Here is — click here — a facsimile of the programme of October 13, 14 and 15, 1940 at the Berlin Philharmonic.

It features an — exceptional if somewhat forgotten these days — pianist, Eduard Erdmann, already mentioned on this website.

Along with Furtwängler, he performed Chopin's 2nd Concerto, as part of concert devoted entirely to Romantic music: Weber's Oberon, Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, and… Pfitzner's Opus 46.

8 March 2024

In the news article of February 22, we raised an enigma: did Furtwängler perform in Berlin as early as 1915, long before he performed with the Philharmonic?

Investigations brought results: yes, Furtwängler did conduct the Blüthner Orchester in 1915. It was on March 19, in the Blüthnersaal photo below, for a charity concert to support survivors of the Navy.

Performing with him were Joachim's pupil, violinist Waldemar Meyer (1853-1940), Austrian soprano Hedwig Francillo-Kauffmann (1879-1948) and baritone Sydney Biden (1873-1957).

The programme (compiled from articles):
– Gluck: Overture for Alceste,
– Beethoven: Leonore III Overture
– Strauss: Tod und Verklärung
– Mendelssohn: Concerto for violin (W. Meyer)
– with Hedwig Francillo-Kauffmann:
   - Haendel: Aria with flute, from L'Allegro, il Pensieroso ed il Moderato,
   - Verdi: Aria from Traviata and/or Meyerbeer: "Ombre légère" from Dinorah
– with Sydney Binen: Beethoven: "An die Hoffnung" (orch. Mottl)

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