Programme for the concert in Berlin, 24 October 1948

Two days before 24 October 1948 the Western powers tabled a UN resolution to lift the blockade of Berlin. The Soviets applied their veto: the blockade, which they had introduced on 24 June, was intended to force the other occupying powers to accept Russian control of the whole city in respect of sovereignty and currency. The Berliners, whom international opinion had so recently seen as former Nazis, now become victims of Stalinist oppression in the eyes of the world. But the West did not seek armed confrontation; they decided instead to enable more than two million people simply to survive by means of a huge airlift. With French aircraft in Indochina, American and British bombers flew at intervals of just a few minutes to supply the city with food, coal, gasolene and pharmaceuticals. This would continue until the Russians were forced to bring the blockade to an end in May 1949.

It was against this background that Furtwängler conducted his first Berlin concert of the season. The season itself was short: if Furtwängler was once again the soul of the orchestra, he was still not its head — that was Celibidache — and he would make only a few appearances in Berlin, though these were crowned by a tour of Germany in the spring of 1949.

The programme itself is typical of Furtwängler's repertoire. The Philharmonic’s three trumpeters are credited for the Bach Suite: Karl Rucht, who retired shortly afterwards to begin a career as a conductor, Herbert Rotzoll, second trumpet since 1929, and Karl Pfeifer, the youngest, who joined the orchestra in 1946.

The concert was recorded and has been issued on disc. Note the very poor quality paper for this programme — another consequence of the blockade.

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