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 230 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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
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  • 2.
    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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  • 3.
    100 Hits: Classical Greats
    Label: 100 Hits   Catalog: 1017490 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Myra Hess,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Geraint Jones,  Karl Münchinger,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Myra Hess  ... 
    Conductor:  Geraint Jones,  Karl Münchinger,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Leopold Stokowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici,  Members of the Vienna Octet (Members)
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  • 4.
    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  ... 
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  • 5.
    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
    On sale! $39.99
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  • 6.
    Wilhelm Furtwangler Conducts Brahms Vol. 2
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6674 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    CD: $17.99
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  • 7.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
    CD: $137.99
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  • 8.
    Beethoven: Symphony no 9
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1276 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Tilla Briem,  Elisabeth Höngen,  Peter Anders,  Rudolf Watzke
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bruno Kittel Choir
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  • 9.
    My Wagner Album / Christian Thielemann
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001884102 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Paul Schöffler,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Thomas Stewart,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Christian Thielemann,  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 10.
    Schubert Lieder
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1401 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Edwin Fischer,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Karl Hudez,  Gerald Moore
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 11.
    Fidelio
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2048 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Paul Schöffler,  Kirsten Flagstad,  Julius Patzak  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    CD: $21.99
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  • 12.
    Four Maestri In 1926: Toscanini, Mengelberg, Walter, Furtwangler
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2105 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Strauss,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini,  Willem Mengelberg,  Bruno Walter,  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 13.
    Overtures
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 162 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Luigi Cherubini,  Franz Schubert,  Carl Maria von Weber  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 14.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 / Furtwangler, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002014 Release Date: 05/14/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Tilla Briem,  Elisabeth Höngen,  Peter Anders,  Rudolf Watzke
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bruno Kittel Choir
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  • 15.
    Great Wagner Conductors [4-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001826202 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Eugen Jochum,  Victor De Sabata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $26.98
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  • 16.
    Wilhelm Furtwangler: Wiener Konzerte 1944-1954 [18-CD Set]
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 834118 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  César Franck,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda,  Dagmar Bella,  Paul Schöffler,  Anton Dermota  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singakademie,  Vienna Boys' Choir
    Recommendation
    CD: $118.99
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  • 17.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 / Furtwangler, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 851121 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Gré Brouwenstijn,  Ira Malaniuk,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Ludwig Weber
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Ludwig Van Beethoven: Choral Symphony / Furtwangler,  Vienna Philharmonic (1952)
    Label: Tahra   Catalog: 2012 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 19.
    Voices Of German Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40497 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Heinrich Marschner  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Edda Moser,  Kurt Moll,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Berislav Klobucar,  Rudolf Moralt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    Beethoven: Symphony No  3 /  Wilhelm Furtwangler, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Tahra   Catalog: 2011 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 21.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10130 Release Date: 04/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Hertha Klust,  Gerald Moore,  Klaus Billing  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Herbert von Karajan,  Ferenc Fricsay
    CD: $12.99
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  • 22.
    Brahms: Symphony No 1 / Furtwangler, Ndr Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Tahra   Catalog: 2010 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 23.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 790 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Ernst Haefliger,  Elsa Cavelti,  Otto Edelmann
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $16.99
    CD: $14.99
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  • 24.
    Edition Wilhelm Furtwangler [14 LP set]
    Label: Audite   Catalog: AUD87101 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Anton Bruckner,  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    LP: $349.99
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  • 25.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0401 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Otto Edelmann,  Hans Hopf
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    CD: $9.99
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