Wilhelm Furtwängler

Biography

Born: January 25, 1886   Died: November 30, 1954   Country: Germany  
Although born in Berlin, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler spent his childhood in Munich, where his father was a professor. After his talents were recognized at an early age, he was removed from school and educated privately. Furtwängler's teachers included the composer Joseph Rheinberger and the conductor Felix Mottl. By the age of 17, the young musician had written numerous works and had his conducting debut three years later with the Kaim Read more Orchestra, where he directed the opening Largo from his own first symphony, Beethoven's overture Die Weihe des Hauses, and Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. The ambivalent response to his music and the financial instability that composition offered caused him to focus his energies on conducting.

Furtwängler's first position was at the Breslau Stadttheater in 1906 and 1907. He went to Zurich the next season, followed by an apprenticeship at the Munich Court Opera under the auspices of his teacher Mottl. From 1911 to 1921, Furtwängler served as music director of various ensembles in Lübeck, Mannheim, Frankfurt, and Vienna. From 1920 to 1922, he served as conductor of the Berlin Staatskapelle. At the age of 35, the conductor took the baton at the celebrated Berlin Philharmonic and concurrently held the same position at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, where he remained until 1928. Furtwängler led the New York Philharmonic from 1927 to 1929, but eventually declined an offer to remain there. It was during those years that Furtwängler was appointed music director of the Vienna Philharmonic. As the 1920s drew to a close, he held positions throughout Europe, including those at the Bayreuth and Salzburg festivals (1931-1932) and the Berlin State Opera (1933). In 1932, he was awarded the Goethe Gold Medal.

When the Nazis came into power in 1933, Furtwängler strongly and publicly opposed the Nazi agenda, despite pride in his German heritage, and refused to give the Nazi salute, even in Hitler's presence. In 1934, when Hindemith's Mathis de Maler was banned by the Nazi party, Furtwängler unilaterally resigned from all of his posts, aided numerous Jewish musicians under Nazi persecution, and refused to conduct in Nazi-occupied areas. Furtwängler eventually fled to Switzerland at the suggestion of Albert Speer. When, in 1936, the New York Philharmonic offered him the position of music director, he was dissuaded from accepting the position by anti-Nazi sentiment. After the war's conclusion, the Allied command cleared Furtwängler of charges of being a Nazi sympathizer, although the American government did not "denazify" Furtwängler until 1946. In 1949, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra courted the German conductor, but its board of directors quickly withdrew its offer under the heavy and largely unjustified criticism from the orchestra's musicians.

Always welcomed in Europe, Furtwängler enjoyed continued success throughout the region. While uninterested in recording live performances, citing the impossibility for technology to capture a mood or aesthetic, he was responsible for countless recordings, most of which were made after the war. His dedication to the works of Beethoven was unsurpassed, and his enthusiasm towards the contemporary compositions of the time impressive, evidenced by his aggressive programming. Furtwängler's idiosyncratic approach to the repertoire and spontaneous interpretations were unique to say the least. Furtwängler remained a popular artist and kept a busy schedule conducting throughout Europe until his death in Baden-Baden in 1954. According to his second wife Elisabeth Ackermann, he died a darkened and melancholy man, troubled by the atrocious history his beloved Germany had written. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 167 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Menuhin Century: Luxury Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555050 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 91
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $250.99
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  • 2.
    The Menuhin Century: The Historic Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555052 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolò Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerald Moore,  George Enescu,  David Oistrakh  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire  ... 
    On sale! $54.98
    CD: $49.99
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  • 3.
    Yehudi: The Art of Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554924 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Giovanni Battista Viotti,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Paul Cocker,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Louis Kentner  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Lysy,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Efrem Kurtz,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bath Festival Orchestra,  Robert Masters Chamber Orchestra,  Camerata Lysy  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 4.
    Deutsche Grammophon: The Mono Era (1948-1957)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002457272 Release Date: 03/18/2016   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Stefan Askenase,  Shura Cherkassky,  Halina Czerny-Stefanska,  Basile Bolotine  ... 
    Conductor:  Karel Ancerl,  Karl Böhm,  Serge Jaroff,  Leopold Ludwig  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Quartet,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $145.99
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  • 5.
    Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4, Manfred Overture / Furtwangler
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350119 Release Date: 03/04/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $23.99
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  • 6.
    111: 6 Classic Recordings [6 LP]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002438901 Release Date: 01/15/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Robert Schumann,  Antonín Dvorák,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Karl Ridderbusch,  Hans Haselbock,  Julia Hamari  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Herbert von Karajan,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Concert Choir  ... 
    LP: $130.99
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  • 7.
    Schubert: Symphony No. 9; Beethoven: Finale of the Symphony No. 9 / Furtwӓngler
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350085 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Elsa Cavelti,  Otto Edelmann,  Ernst Hafliger,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Chorus
    SuperAudio CD: $23.99
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  • 8.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 9.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 / Furtwangler, Philharmonia Orchestra [Vinyl]
    Label: Audite   Catalog: AUD80461 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Ernst Haefliger,  Elsa Cavelti,  Otto Edelmann,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lucerne Festival Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    LP: $39.99
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  • 10.
    Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552122 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    CD: $13.99
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  • 11.
    Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350074 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Edwin Fischer
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    SuperAudio CD: $23.99
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  • 12.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Furtwangler, Schwarzkopf, Cavelti, Haefliger, Edelmann
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 92641 Release Date: 11/18/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Otto Edelmann,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Elsa Cavelti,  Ernst Haefliger
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Chorus
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  • 13.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Furtwangler, Schwarzkopf, Cavelti, Haefliger, Edelmann
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 95641 Release Date: 11/18/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Ernst Haefliger,  Elsa Cavelti,  Otto Edelmann,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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  • 14.
    Weber: Der Freischutz / Furtwangler, Grummer, Hopf, Streich
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 121166 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
    Performer:  Hans Hopf,  Oskar Czerwenka,  Alfred Poell,  Rita Streich  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 15.
    Great Symphonies
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5132 Release Date: 10/28/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  David Wilson-Johnson
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky,  Guido Cantelli,  Ataulfo Argenta  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 16.
    Ravel: Bolero Anniversary
    Label: Saifam (Usa)   Catalog: 1030 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Ginette Neveu,  Jean Neveu,  Marguerite Long
    Conductor:  Maurice Ravel,  Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht,  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    On sale! $19.99
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  • 17.
    Wilhelm Furtwangler Conducts The Complete Beethoven Symphonies
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9093 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Great Recordings / Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002093802 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  David Bell,  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Krystian Zimerman,  Jard Van Nes  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Claudio Abbado,  Simon Rattle,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ernst Senff Chamber Choir
    CD: $39.99
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  • 19.
    Violin Concertos Conducted By Wilhelm Furtwangler
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9122 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms,  Jean Sibelius
    Performer:  Erich Röhn,  Gioconda De Vito,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Georg Kulenkampff
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Wagner: Orchestral Music
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350107 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    SuperAudio CD: $24.99
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  • 21.
    Richard Strauss: Don Juan; Tod Und Verklarung; Till Eulenspiegel Lustige Streiche; Vier Letzte Lieder
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350100 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Otto Ackermann
    SuperAudio CD: $24.99
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  • 22.
    Beethoven - Recordings During Wartime / Wilhelm Furtwangler
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5061 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Erich Röhn,  Conrad Hansen
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 23.
    Bruckner: Symphonies 4-9
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9008 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Claude Debussy,  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schubert
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    CD: $19.99
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  • 24.
    Icon: The Early Years - Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 928129 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Marius Casadesus,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen  ... 
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $62.49
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  • 25.
    Verdi: Otello / Furtwangler, Vinay, Dermota, Wagner, Greindl
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 880132 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Ramon Vinay,  Dragica Martinis,  Anton Dermota,  August Jaresch  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Chorus
    CD: $39.99
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