Programme for the concert in Bayreuth, 29 July 1951

Here at last is a reproduction of the programme for one of Furtwängler’s most legendary concerts, the performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Bayreuth in 1951.

If any recording of a concert has become part of history, it is surely this! It might be said that if it had not been recorded and disseminated around the world in the form of a double LP after the conductor’s death, it would have remained just another concert and just another Ninth. Yet this is not quite all, for the performance was a significant event in itself. It marked the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival after seven years of silence — and seven years of profound upheaval: the end of a world war; the reconstruction of a Europe seeking its identity and inching towards a far-distant confederation; the reconstruction of a country, even in the face of partition imposed by a foreign power. And while no-one could know it at the time, 1951 marked not only the reopening of the Festival but also the beginning of the “new Bayreuth”. Winifred Wagner had been obliged to make way for her sons, and Wieland would soon introduce a style that had nothing in common with the Bayreuth of former times.

A certain historical irony emerges when we leaf through the pages of this programme, with its many and varied advertisements. Sixty-five years later, the brands whose praises they sang — Mercedes cars, August Klönne engineering, Deutz engines, Pelican pens, Rosenthal porcelain, Adox and Agfa photos, Pepsodent — all still exist; but the only major company with a direct link to Furtwängler, here given a full page of publicity, is no more: His Master's Voice...

Finally, there are the amusingly quaint French and English translations of the request for donations at the end of the booklet…

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