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Furtwängler's Love

Furtwangler's Love
Release Date: 04/29/2008 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 101811  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyLudwig van BeethovenCarl Maria von WeberFranz Schubert,   ... 
Performer:  Ludwig SuthausKirsten Flagstad
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraVienna Philharmonic OrchestraPhilharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

FURTWÄNGLER’S LOVE & Film by Jan Schmidt-Garre ARTHAUS 101 811 (DVD: 68:12 Text and Translation)

& MP3 files of Furtwängler rehearsal fragments, speeches, and interviews

This is a very peculiar, but appealing film that will be of interest to anyone interested in Wilhelm Furtwängler. At the center of the film is the remarkable widow of the conductor, Elisabeth, who was in her Read more early nineties when this film was made (in 2004, assuming the skimpy information provided with it is being correctly interpreted), and who remains alive as I write this in May 2008. The film purports to explore Furtwängler’s loves—music and Elisabeth—and does so in a very touching, human way. Furtwängler’s Love is described as a “film essay,” and it is a deeply personal and revealing portrayal of both the artist and the man. Elisabeth is remarkably frank, about falling in love with him at a time he was dating her sister, about his “harem” and his many illegitimate children, and about how deeply she was in love with him and he with her. Perhaps most moving is her description of his final days in 1954, when he knew he was dying and, in fact, was ready to die.

At the same time, the film explores, through Furtwängler’s own words, his feelings about music—and about composing as well as conducting. It makes clear that he (in much the same way as Leonard Bernstein) wished to be remembered as a composer rather than a conductor. Excerpts from his Violin Sonata No 2, Fantasia No. 1 for Piano, and a song titled Flight of the Seagull are all included in the film.

There are a few oddities in the film—none more odd than the fact that the scenes of Berlin that are used to accompany excerpts of Furtwängler performances have a repeated idée fixe of a couple kissing passionately. Perhaps it was supposed to represent Furtwängler and Elisabeth—but I must say I never quite got the point. However, in the end I found the personal openness and conversational approach taken with Elisabeth to be both involving and moving, and I would recommend the film to anyone with an interest in Furtwängler, and this period in German history.

In addition to the 68-minute film, there is a bonus in the form of audio MP3 files, some 318 minutes worth, featuring all known Furtwängler rehearsal fragments, speeches, and interviews.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu languages: English, French, German, Spanish
Film language: German
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique": Excerpt(s) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1938 
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92: Excerpt(s) by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Der Freischütz, J 277: Overture - Excerpt(s) by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817-1821; Dresden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1952 
Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished": Excerpt(s) by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1952 
Tristan und Isolde: Excerpt(s) by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Ludwig Suthaus (Tenor), Kirsten Flagstad (Soprano)
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Don Giovanni, K 527: Overture - Excerpt(s) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Fantasy for Piano no 1: Excerpt(s) by Wilhelm Furtwängler
Möwenflug: Excerpt(s) by Wilhelm Furtwängler

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