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Furtwängler, Wilhelm

Wilhelm Furtwängler (vĬl´hĕlm fŏŏrt´vĕng-lər), 1886–1954, German conductor, b. Berlin; son of Adolf Furtwängler. One of the greatest orchestral conductors of the 20th cent., he studied music in Munich, where he grew up. He began his career conducting opera in Lübeck (1911–15) and Mannheim (1915–20). In 1922 he succeeded Arthur Nikisch as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and shortly thereafter also became principal conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. Furtwängler was a regular conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1925 to 1927 and its permanent conductor in the season of 1937–38. In 1934 he resigned his important posts in Germany when the performance of Hindemith's music was prohibited. In 1935 he returned to conduct the Berlin orchestra.

Furtwängler remained in Germany during World War II and, while he was never a Nazi, his failure to break with the regime led to considerable criticism. After the war he was absolved of a charge of having collaborated with the Nazis. He continued to conduct in Vienna, revived (1951) the Bayreuth Festival, and retained the position of conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic until his death. He was succeeded in Berlin by Herbert von Karajan. Furtwängler was particularly renowned for his interpretations of the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, and Schumann. He was also a composer, following in the German romantic tradition.

See M. Tanner, ed., Notebooks 1924–1954 by Wilhelm Furtwängler (tr. 1989); biography by C. Riess (tr. 1955); P. Pirie, Furtwängler and the Art of Conducting (1980) and J. Hunt, The Furtwängler Sound (1985).

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Furtwängler, (Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin) Wilhelm

Furtwängler, (Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin) Wilhelm (b Berlin, 1886; d Ebersteinburg, 1954). Ger. conductor and composer. Répétiteur, Breslau Stadttheater 1905–6, Zurich 1906–7, Munich court opera with Mottl 1907–9. 3rd cond. under Pfitzner at Strasbourg 1910–11. Dir., Lübeck Opera and cond. of Lübeck SO 1911–15. Cond. Mannheim Opera 1915–20. Tonkünstler Orch., Vienna, 1919–24. Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch. 1922–8, Berlin PO 1922 (for most of the rest of his life), Vienna PO 1924 (prin. cond. 1927–8, 1933–54). Bayreuth Fest. 1931 (Tristan), 1936, 1937, 1943, 1944, 1951 ( Beethoven's 9th Sym. only). London début 1924, NY 1925, CG début 1935. Regularly cond. Salzburg Fest. (début 1937) and perfs. of Ring at La Scala. In concert-hall gave memorable perfs. of the classics, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, etc., and championed music of Stravinsky and other 20th-cent. composers. Cond. f.ps. of Bartók's 1st pf. conc. (Frankfurt 1927), Schoenberg's Variations, Op.31 (Berlin 1928), Hindemith's sym. Mathis der Maler (Berlin 1934), and Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder (London 1950). Controversy over his position during Nazi régime led to withdrawal of his appointment as cond. NYP-SO, 1936 and as cond. of Chicago SO 1949. Fled to Switz. to avoid arrest, 1945. Cleared of pro-Nazi activities 1946 and resumed his int. career, visiting London several times. One of the great masters of the art of cond. Comp. 3 syms., pf. conc., and chamber mus.

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Furtwängler, Wilhelm

Furtwängler, Wilhelm (1886–1954) German conductor. He became conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1922 (life appointment in 1952), and of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930. He appeared frequently at the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, and was a specialist in the works of Beethoven and Wagner. His ambiguous relationship with the Nazi regime aroused controversy.

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