Today's Classical Music Video

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Furtwaengler Conducts Brahms

Last week we featured a Beethoven video with Toscanini conducting. While Toscanini was alive he was often contrasted with Wilhelm Furtwaengler, the long-time conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. Toscanini was usually depicted as the 'literalist', the conductor who treated the printed score as sacred. Furtwaengler, on the other hand, was said to be a conductor who made music through a kind of mystical communion with the composer which allowed him to treat the score with the utmost freedom. Neither of these characterizations is really true at all; Toscanini could be 'free' and Furtwaengler could be 'strict.' But both conductors had the power to inspire musicians to give great performances and that is why we continue to treasure their recordings today.

Relatively few examples survive which show Furtwaengler in action. Here is one of the most memorable. The occasion was a concert in London with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1948. This video is a rehearsal and shows how incomparable Furtwaengler was in creating cumulative excitement in the final variations in the last movement of Brahms Fourth Symphony.

- Paul E. Robinson



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home