Concert in Berlin, 22 March 1942

How to evoke this programme without falling into the commonplace: Certainly one of the greatest Ninth by Furtwängler! Everything was written on the swept-away, exalted, sometimes furious side of the conductor's commitment, alongside with truly upsetting moments, especially in the slow movement.

And then images come to mind; those of the news reels, made on the occasion of the celebration of Hitler’s birthday a few weeks later, so that sound and images collide when they should not: the soundtrack comes from the March concert (the voice of Anders and not of Rosvaenge!), while the shots date — at least for the most part (?) — from April 19. An often random synchronization has undoubtedly facilitated this somewhat monstrous mix between a chilling ceremony and a festive event. 

In this series, the concert of March 24 also marked a great anniversary, but of a different kind: the 125th performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by the Bruno Kittel Choir, founded in 1902. Bruno Kittel adhered to the ideals of the new Germany and to the party that supported it. Did he hope for more prestige? He was badly rewarded: shortly after this concert, his idol ordered to rename the choir ‘Deutscher Philharmonischer Chor (Bruno-Kittel-Chor)’. It is not said that the old musician appreciated the honor that was given to him...

The booklet itself does not lack interest.

An overview of Beethoven’s dwellings in Vienna is divided between the 3rd and 9th pages.
A reflection on the Finale of the Symphony is signed by art historian Walter Riezler, who was — forty years earlier, and with Ludwig Curtius — the tutor of the young Wilhelm.
And in the news, on the penultimate page, a friendly greeting to retired member of the orchestra, an iconic figure, the solo bassist Leberecht Goedecke (1872-1947). Recognized as one of the masters of his instrument, this strong and gentle giant played it as if he was lightly handling a Stradivarius. Really? Take a look at the video of Weber’s Ouverture d'Oberon, performed by the Berliners and Bruno Walter: around two-thirds you will see several shots that will enlighten you.

The photographic portrait of Furtwängler is by Curt Ullmann. Very present in the world of the show, we owe him photos of musicians, especially at the request of Deutsche Grammophon.

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