News

If you want to share a piece of news to all WFS members and web surfers (publication of a compact disk, a book, event, concert, etc.) do not hesitate to let us know by email at site@furtwangler.fr

Archives

25 January 2024

A quick glance at the cover of this programme reveals only "Concertgebouw" in large letters printed across the top. A closer look reveals that this is not one of Furtwängler's rare concerts with this orchestra, but a performance on tour by the Berlin Philharmonic. And looking even more closely, this is no longer Amsterdam, but The Hague...

There's nothing unusual about this all-Beethoven line-up.

But this evening of February 8, 1932, and others around it, deserve our attention for a very special reason. Furtwängler and his orchestra are accompanied by an unusual guest, photographer Erich Salomon — who disappeared in 1944 in the Theresin camp — the man who was once called "the King of the Indiscreet", so successful was he in capturing politicians and artists at a glance with his little Leica.

He was close enough to Furtwängler for the latter to allow him to take snapshots during his breakfast in Potsdam! In any case, the result is a unique and remarkable report on Furtwängler and his 1932 tour, and in particular on his stopover in The Hague: an impressive number of shots, of which here is an example, taken during the "Sitzprobe".

18 January 2024

It's been many years since we heard the precarious recording of Richard Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder, made at their premiere — or dress rehearsal? — on May 22, 1950 in London. Kirsten Flagstad was the performer — chosen by Strauss himself — accompanied by the Philharmonia conducted by Furtwängler.

Comments on the origins of the recording abounded, most of them attributing the initiative to Walter Legge, head of the Philharmonia, rather than to the BBC.

A press article, which has gone completely unnoticed, shed some light on the subject. It appeared in La Presse, a Parisian newspaper launched in 1836, which ceased to be a daily and then barely a weekly, disappearing altogether in 1952. The unsigned article appeared in the June 11, 1950 issue, with the headline "Un maharadjah ressuscite la musique de Strauss" ["A maharajah brings Strauss's music back to life"].

It explains how the maharajah of Mysore (Jaya Chamarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur), a patron of the orchestra, had made the concert possible by guaranteeing the income, in order to allow the posthumous premiere of the composer's last song, which had died eight months before; and concludes :

« The singer's triumph would have been complete, had the man who made it possible been present. But the maharajah, detained in his homeland by his duties as sovereign, was not in London.
It won't be long, however, before he gets to know the last four lieder on which he has spent so much money: Kirsten Flagstad's voice has been engraved in wax, and the discs have been flown the day after the concert to Mysore, where the maharajah is waiting to grant them a place of honor in his record library, which numbers no less than twenty thousand recordings. »

(Source Gallica/BnF)

10 January 2024

The Wilhelm Furtwängler Centre of Japan released a new 3-CD album, entirely devoted to Beethoven’s two 9th Symphonies of 1954.

The 3 CDs include:
– the rehearsals of the 3rd and 4th movements, on 8 August 1954
– the Bayreuth concert on 9 August 1954
– the Lucerne concert on 22 August 1954.

It also includes the interview with Henri Jaton of 1954, and is attached the facsimile of the Bayreuth programme.

The box is available for €43/ $47 (6800 yen). If you wish to download the high definition files, it will cost you €13 / $14 extra (2000 yen). Of course, you must first join the Centre.

Here is the link: http://www.furt-centre.com/

3 January 2024

This is the time of good wishes. May this new year bring you and your loved ones as much happiness as possible.

For the SWF, after a decisive year (several products and studies in download, the youtube channel, streaming, etc.), the new one is also very beautiful, with new products (Vienna, Stockholm, Bayreuth, etc.).

A few years ago, the issue of the download of Beethoven’s 9th of March 1942 (SWF D01) was accompanied by the facsimile of the concert programme. The scan was not of very good quality: we reworked it, and the new facsimile joins the now long list of ‘Get the programme’.

Link to the document

23 December 2023

On the online shop is now available a new SWF product, D13, featuring the concert given by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra on 27 August 1947:
– Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 with Adrian Aeschbacher,
– Beethoven: Leonore III Overture,
– Brahms: Symphony No. 1

The Concerto is played by a young man and... an older man. But who is the younger of the two? As for the Symphony, performed by a white-hot orchestra, there's nothing mellow about it, like the various Viennese versions. It is rather similar to the one performed three years later in Amsterdam.

The product is available as a download (HD and CD format) from the shop, priced at €14, and as a streaming album for those who have subscribed to the service. Please note that the digital package comes with a detailed booklet featuring a host of rare photos.

This edition differs from its predecessors (we published it as an LP many years ago...) by using the original source digitised in high definition.

Christophe Hénault — to whom we owe most of our reissues over the last few years — has kept the processing to a minimum so as not to 'dumb down' the musical message. Read the article "Some technical background".

18 December 2023

For those interested in restoration techniques, here is an overview of the work carried out by Christophe Hénault, the sound engineer who has been preparing our products for some years now. Read further.

14 December 2023

On Saturday 23 December, the SWF will be releasing an exceptional concert (for both download and streaming), the one given by Furtwängler conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra on 27 August 1947.

Broadcast by a Swiss radio station, fortunately relayed by Swedish Radio which had the bright idea of recording it, it features in this order:
– Beethoven : Piano Concerto No. 1 with Adrian Aeschbacher
– Beethoven : Leonore III Overture
Brahms : Symphony No. 1

For this edition, we took the material directly from the source, the Swedish Radio, which supplied the digitised files in high definition. The restoration and mastering was handled by Christophe Hénault. The result is superior to anything previously available.

There is no need to underline the importance of this publication. If the Brahms Symphony matches the greatness of the Amsterdam (1950) and Hamburg (1951) recordings, we have here the only testimony of Furtwängler conducting the Beethoven Concerto, where his performance is astonishingly youthful, unexpectedly fresh and attentive to Adrian Aeschbacher.

As always, the release will be available in both high definition and CD quality, and as well as the booklet (in French and English), you'll also be able to download pdf files for printing a cover and the inlay card for a jewel box. It will be available at a price of €14.

Watch the presentation on our Youtube channel.

It's also our first new product to be available directly via streaming.

Here's a preview of the Concerto (mp3).

7 December 2023

The streaming from the SWF website starts today.

Remember that subscription to this service — €10.00 per year — is only available to SWF members.

As it is indivisible from the membership, it was impossible to handle it separately. So, if you are already a member of the SWF, the streaming subscription will restart a membership on this date, but — don't worry — it will be deducted on a pro rata basis.
So if your membership is valid until 15 April, and you subscribe to streaming on 10 December, a new annual membership will start on 10 December, but the pro rata amount from 10 December to 15 April will be deducted from the membership fee.

To subscribe: please go to
My profile (top right),
– then click on My subscription,
– and finally click on Update or change your subscription: and then choose your option. The site will do the rest to calculate your new membership fee.

Or more directly go to the page: My membership

The catalogue now available is only part of the SWF catalogue, but
– it also contains items from our German sister company,
– iIt will be expanded over the coming weeks, and this site will announce new additions as they are made.

By consulting the playlist, you will discover that you can access the audio files either via Composer/work, or by Album, when an entire old album has been made available.

Please note that the sources we have in high definition are available in this format and in CD format: if the file exists in high definition, you will see the small HD icon nest to SD.

This new feature, a real step forward in the history of the SWF, is combined with a redesign of our website, and in particular its home page. The current and future content is aimed at providing ever more information, but the website is now adapted to suit new viewing preferences, particularly those of smartphone users.

29 November 2023

Recently, we highlighted the importance of consulting newspapers to complete or correct concert listings. This work is paying off, as a rigorous examination has led us to a major discovery.

We know Furtwängler's activities in Lübeck through symphonic concerts, "popular" concerts and even chamber music sessions. In addition to this, "official" documents and known lists show the conductor's activity as a guest of the municipal opera house. Three events were recorded: Die Meistersinger in 1913, Fidelio and The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1915.

How could a fourth opera be overlooked? No one can explain it, but one fact is certain: Furtwängler conducted Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio on 27 March 1914. Not only was he able to rely on the cast of the Stadttheater, but also on two distinguished guests: the tenor Karl Erb and the comic actor Ludwig Flaschner.

The only review of the evening is nothing but praise.

22 November 2023

This morning we launched a SWF YouTube channel.

It was created by Guilhem Chameyrat, a member of the Board.

The first thing you'll find on this YouTube channel is, of course, videos. We'll be providing different formats, for example themed videos on Furtwängler's art or particular recordings, interviews, or even podcasts.

The channel will also feature playlists. You'll be able to listen to the best Furtwängler performances, sorted by specific criteria, starting with the magnificent recordings remastered by Studio Art et Son and officially released by Warner on YouTube for streaming.

Here are the links.

– the channel: https://www.youtube.com/@SocieteWilhelmFurtwangler

– introductory video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO8qJNf8eT0&ab_channel=Soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9WilhelmFurtwangler

15 November 2023

We had previously announced that the streaming service would be available in mid-November.

A number of imperatives — notably that of presenting a coherent and more extensive catalogue — and a number of technical restrictions lead us to postpone the launch of this service.

Rest assured: this is only a minor postponement. Everything should be up and running by early December.

11 November 2023

Reading the newspapers of the time is always a good idea. Thus, when considering Furtwängler's career, one may discover — in the course of a reading — a concert that went unnoticed, absent from the lists; or possibly correct an error that has gone unreported for decades.

The mistake here is the date of the first Fidelio, conducted by Furtwängler at the Theater Lübeck. No one could explain why the lists indicated March 23, 1915. It was actually March 9. Not a big deal, one might say. Except that this musical performance was of great importance in the conductor's career. At the end of this evening, a delegation from Mannheim led by Bodanzky announced to Furtwängler that he had been chosen as the new musical director of the Mannheim Opera for the coming season.

Addendum: During the Summer of 1917, Furtwängler reunited with his former Lübeck orchestra and Jani Szanto, who had been his Konzertmeister, for a charity concert given at the Kurhaus in Travemünde, Lübeck's seaside resort. The concert, performed on the evening of July 27, featured :
- Overture from Der Freischütz
- Dvorak's Violin Concerto, with Szanto ;
- Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

Related information: St Matthew Passion from April 1915 was listed as "soloists unknown". This is no longer the case, nor is the identity of the four choral ensembles that took part.

Our lists have now been corrected.

Travemünde : the Kurhaus

Page 2 - Aller à la page