DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

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DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Lance » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:46 pm

DGG has now issued Furtwangler's complete DGG and Decca and early Polydor recordings on 35 CDs. This is the first time we have the complete edition released by DGG though many of the recordings have been issued independently before. Apparently it is selling very well as many suppliers are waiting for more copies to arrive. You might also like to know that the big 107-CD set issued by Brilliant Classics is online now for $600 (I got mine for $90 in 2013). Strange how these things go up so high in price. Anybody thinking seriously about acquiring the DGG set?
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Modernistfan » Thu Nov 21, 2019 4:12 pm

Not me! I am not going to spend money on recordings of standard repertoire played in a mediocre fashion by orchestras all but destroyed by the consequences of Nazism and the Second World War and recorded in mediocre monophonic sound. I have never understood the Furtwängler cult and I still don't understand the fascination with this völkisch egomaniac.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Thu Nov 21, 2019 4:19 pm

Modernistfan wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 4:12 pm
Not me! I am not going to spend money on recordings of standard repertoire played in a mediocre fashion by orchestras all but destroyed by the consequences of Nazism and the Second World War and recorded in mediocre monophonic sound. I have never understood the Furtwängler cult and I still don't understand the fascination with this völkisch egomaniac.
Why don't you tell us what you really think! :lol:
Mind you, I don't have all that much Furtwangler - about 20 CDs, and that's enough for me.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Lance » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:37 pm

Interesting. I guess it is all a matter of interpretation that creates the interest. Long after his passing, Furtwangler still sells and has quite a following. It is my understanding that Furtwangler assisted Jews many times, and helped to keep them in their musical posts with his orchestras. I have read a number of books on Furtwangler's connections with Germany and these include:

Daniel Gillis: Furtwangler in America
Sam H. Shirakawa: The Devil's Music Master (speaks heavily on the Nazi issue)
Berta Geissmar: Two Worlds of Music (or in England: The Baton and the Jackboot)
… and some others as well

In the final analysis we will really never know for sure what lurked in the hearts of people during that god-awful period in time. The most common response was that Furtwangler was so enamored with German music that he tried to stick to that alone without getting into the politics of that time. I also have read that the Nazis were very disappointed because he would not collaborate with them but they left him largely alone because his worldwide status as a conductor.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:33 pm

It is true that Furtwängler was never a Nazi Party member, and it is unquestioned that he did attempt to assist some Jews, including his concertmaster, the Polish-Jewish violinist Szymon Goldberg. However, I am still having a difficult time understanding why he did not leave Germany, as did Erich Kleiber and Fritz Busch, whose anti-Nazi attitudes were unquestioned and unquestionable. The real problem that I have with Furtwängler is that many of the völkisch attitudes with which he was associated, attitudes that extended far beyond the Nazis, have persisted in somewhat mutated form to the present day and have damaged what should be seen as an international and multicultural art form. For example, one of these attitudes is the trope of "empty virtuosity," invoked by Furtwängler and almost always used in relation to performers of the "wrong" ethnicity for the particular repertoire, particularly the core Austro-German repertoire (excepting, of course, Mendelssohn, Mahler, and by extension, the work of composers of the Second Viennese School). In Furtwängler's day, the trope was generally used to condemn Jewish performers; now, although it is still somewhat so used in a disguised form, it is more frequently and more openly used to condemn Asian performers.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by John F » Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:01 pm

Modernistfan wrote:one of these attitudes is the trope of "empty virtuosity," invoked by Furtwängler and almost always used in relation to performers of the "wrong" ethnicity for the particular repertoire, particularly the core Austro-German repertoire (excepting, of course, Mendelssohn, Mahler, and by extension, the work of composers of the Second Viennese School).
I don't know what this means. Furtwängler's only severe criticism of other performers that I know of was of Toscanini during and after the New York Philharmonic's 1930 European tour. As for repertoire, Furtwängler almost never conducted any Mahler whose music wasn't then in the "core repertoire" anyway. By "the wrong ethnicity" I assume you mean Jewish; Furtwängler did conduct music by such lesser Jewish composers as Korngold, if not often. And while music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, he conducted Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra. I'd say that Furtwängler's repertory and comments on it had little if anythng to do with "ethnicity" and more with his musical taste and that of his audience.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:27 pm

This still sends a chill right through the heart:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rM96_RS1Os

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by John F » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:42 am

Why? This wasn't an official Nazi Party function but a free concert for workers in the AEG turbine factory. No doubt the cameras picked out members of the audience who were listening most intently - and how many American factory workers would have attended this kind of concert at all, let alone given it a standing ovation? Not everything the Nazis did was evil; concerts like this were promoted in the "Kraft durch Freude" program,whose aims and activities I can't find it in myself to condemn.

Besides, this is quite a performance!
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:00 am

John F wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:42 am
Why? This wasn't an official Nazi Party function but a free concert for workers in the AEG turbine factory. No doubt the cameras picked out members of the audience who were listening most intently - and how many American factory workers would have attended this kind of concert at all, let alone given it a standing ovation? Not everything the Nazis did was evil; concerts like this were promoted in the "Kraft durch Freude" program,whose aims and activities I can't find it in myself to condemn.

Besides, this is quite a performance!
The Nazi symbol was there in plain sight and it gave me the horrors!! It seemed a miserable counterpoint to the splendid music.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by John F » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:26 am

Belle wrote:The Nazi symbol was there in plain sight and it gave me the horrors!! It seemed a miserable counterpoint to the splendid music.
Of course Germany's national symbol the swastika was part of the turbine factory's logo, and of course the logo was on the banners that decorated the hall. What would you expect? It was normal, even routine. In the US you see the American flag at every conceivable event and location even durng peacetime, from the presidential inauguration to a minor league baseball game, and it signifies nothing at all.

But if you're going to react like this reflexively every time you see a swastika, and no doubt many people do, you will sometimes draw false conclusions about the meaning of what you see.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:26 pm

I agree with you on many things, but not on this one!! :D

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:16 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:26 am
Belle wrote:The Nazi symbol was there in plain sight and it gave me the horrors!! It seemed a miserable counterpoint to the splendid music.
Of course Germany's national symbol the swastika was part of the turbine factory's logo, and of course the logo was on the banners that decorated the hall. What would you expect? It was normal, even routine. In the US you see the American flag at every conceivable event and location even durng peacetime, from the presidential inauguration to a minor league baseball game, and it signifies nothing at all.

But if you're going to react like this reflexively every time you see a swastika, and no doubt many people do, you will sometimes draw false conclusions about the meaning of what you see.
I think it's a good thing if Sue finds the swastika jarring. Of course you are right that to the Nazis it was the equivalent of the US flag to Americans today, part of the natural order. But today it is inseparable from what the Nazis stood for, and the white supremacist groups who are picking up on it since and today are exploiting those connotations. And Sue is watching that YouTube clip today, when neo-Nazis are rising over much of the West.
If I were a Buddhist I might resent the symbol's capture by the Nazis, but it happened and that's that.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Rach3 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:52 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:26 am
But if you're going to react like this reflexively every time you see a swastika, and no doubt many people do, you will sometimes draw false conclusions about the meaning of what you see.
I DO.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by maestrob » Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:52 am

I too get shivers whenever I see the Nazi flag, and react violently to white supremacist thinking, even though I've been the beneficiary of white privilege throughout my life. I also avoid Nazi recordings whenever possible, unless I'm studying performance practice of a piece I'm working on. I still get the willies from listening, nonetheless.

The current resurgence of white nationalism in Western culture pains and horrifies me enormously. It's not what I was raised to believe in. I find it impossible to disassociate Nazi music-making from their core philosophy, in spite of Furtwangler's defense of his Jewish orchestral musicians.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:21 pm

As to the modern far right; many of its foot-soldiers have been created by politics moving too far in the opposite direction!! Cause and effect. Politics needs to return to the MIDDLE for it to be effective, democratic and workable. When you see your nation's flag as a symbol of nationalism it's not surprising that another group will find an alternative of their own which everybody likes less.

Maestrob, do you think your forebears who took up arms to protect England and Europe TWICE were benefiting from 'white privilege'?

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by maestrob » Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:33 pm

Belle wrote:
Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:21 pm
As to the modern far right; many of its foot-soldiers have been created by politics moving too far in the opposite direction!! Cause and effect. Politics needs to return to the MIDDLE for it to be effective, democratic and workable. When you see your nation's flag as a symbol of nationalism it's not surprising that another group will find an alternative of their own which everybody likes less.

Maestrob, do you think your forebears who took up arms to protect England and Europe TWICE were benefiting from 'white privilege'?
Interesting question, Belle. The answer, of course, is yes, definitely. As a country, we fought to preserve democracy, both white and other races. Whites were in command, though, and the generals (Eisenhower etc.) were white. Upon returning home, the G.I. Bill benefited whites much more than other races, especially since segregated housing and higher education were still legal. I hesitate to go on with this, though, since we are way off topic. :wink:

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:45 pm

Not really so far off topic when we talk about Nazis and WF. :D

I have to disagree. When people want to protect their so-called privilege it's because they are getting something from it which nobody else is; 55 million people dying isn't my idea of privilege - not any privilege and under no circumstances. Then there was the first world war! WF was protecting HIS privilege by remaining in Germany, prepared to go down with the ship to do so - as were the musicians who remained there every hour that bombing was possible and likely. In short, death was the opportunity cost, whether that be protecting the 'privilege' of being British, Polish, Danish, Norwegian, Belgian - on and on it goes. And there were plenty of 'white' nations living under horrific totalitarianism - the Germans themselves, in recent history. What of their 'privilege'? What of the huge numbers of poor, disadvantaged white people in those nations? Do you regard the Jews as privileged because of their whiteness?

And the history of European civilization is the history of war, famine, disease, natural disaster - but also the (beyond) glorious legacy of the music we love. THAT was the reward - plus any democratic freedoms we could afford along the way. It wasn't easy then and it isn't easy now.
Last edited by Belle on Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:47 pm

To be frank, American worship of their flag (or what they understand it to represent) makes me faintly uncomfortable too. But nothing like the Nazis, obviously. As one with a European heritage, I am suspicious of overt nationalism. But I will take Brian's hint and stop there.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:04 pm

barney wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:47 pm
To be frank, American worship of their flag (or what they understand it to represent) makes me faintly uncomfortable too. But nothing like the Nazis, obviously. As one with a European heritage, I am suspicious of overt nationalism. But I will take Brian's hint and stop there.
I think, with great respect to our American friends, most of these ideas about 'white privilege' stem from American racism and do not really pertain to the world at large. There are plenty of black and Asian nations with a vicious pecking order where they protect their own 'privilege' at the expense of their own people.

WF and his power and prestige during a time of aggression and war will continue to be the subject to debate - especially when we see that dreadful Nazi flag in any music clips!!

I'm not sure what 'overt nationalism' really means or whether it exists outside the paradigm of Nazi Germany or Communist China, Russia or North Korea.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:38 am

Any time you maintain your country or people are exceptional, not like others, but better, wiser, more enlightened, that is overt nationalism. Any time you conflate God and your nation - a very common practice by Americans - that is overt nationalism.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:35 am

barney wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:38 am
Any time you maintain your country or people are exceptional, not like others, but better, wiser, more enlightened, that is overt nationalism. Any time you conflate God and your nation - a very common practice by Americans - that is overt nationalism.
I can't bring myself to criticize them for that.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:41 am

barney wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:38 am
Any time you maintain your country or people are exceptional, not like others, but better, wiser, more enlightened, that is overt nationalism. Any time you conflate God and your nation - a very common practice by Americans - that is overt nationalism.
The idea of American exceptionalism, out and about 150 years before the current nation even existed, was arguably one of the factors that shaped American resolve to intervene to save the "European heritage" from being obliterated by the Nazi menace. in my view that's exactly what happened, and like it or not, it was America's finest hour in its not always exceptional history.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by John F » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:31 am

Considering that Furtwängler did nothing wrong but continued to live and work in his homeland, all this is surely unwarranted. Many others did so and I don't see any complaints here, for example Carl Orff. We aren't up in arms about him though "Carmina Burana" was one of the most popular pieces in Nazi Germany, and he composed incidental music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the explicit purpose of replacing the non-Aryan Mendelssohn's, and worked long and hard at it.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:25 am

John F wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:31 am
Considering that Furtwängler did nothing wrong but continued to live and work in his homeland, all this is surely unwarranted. Many others did so and I don't see any complaints here, for example Carl Orff. We aren't up in arms about him though "Carmina Burana" was one of the most popular pieces in Nazi Germany, and he composed incidental music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the explicit purpose of replsacing the non-Aryan Mendelssohn's, and worked long and hard at it.
Agreed. And surely WF belongs in the top rank of great conductors.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:25 am

John F wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:31 am
Considering that Furtwängler did nothing wrong but continued to live and work in his homeland, all this is surely unwarranted. Many others did so and I don't see any complaints here, for example Carl Orff. We aren't up in arms about him though "Carmina Burana" was one of the most popular pieces in Nazi Germany, and he composed incidental music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the explicit purpose of replacing the non-Aryan Mendelssohn's, and worked long and hard at it.
that's fair enough, but it's not true that it's just Furtwangler. eg, Bohm, Cortot.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:36 am

jserraglio wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:41 am
barney wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:38 am
Any time you maintain your country or people are exceptional, not like others, but better, wiser, more enlightened, that is overt nationalism. Any time you conflate God and your nation - a very common practice by Americans - that is overt nationalism.
The idea of American exceptionalism, out and about 150 years before the current nation even existed, was arguably one of the factors that shaped American resolve to intervene to save the "European heritage" from being obliterated by the Nazi menace. in my view that's exactly what happened, and like it or not, it was America's finest hour in its not always exceptional history.
That's true, and I for one am grateful for that. But it was a near-run thing - Roosevelt faced great opposition in his support for the allies, with a strong isolationist lobby, especially after Joseph Kennedy advised that England could not win. It took a direct attack on America for the US to join the war. And Hitler declared war on the US before the US declared war on Hitler. So you really had to be dragged in. Without Pearl Harbour, Europe might be Nazi today. However, once you were in the war, all you say is true. Quite heroic. And in my view especially after the war, with the Marshall Plan - visionary and generous.

I've been reading Bill Bryson's The Thunderbolt Kid about growing up in 1950s America. An exceptionally good read. He notes that in 1951, the year of his birth, the 5% of people on earth who were American had more wealth than the other 95% combined, including 80% of the world’s electrical goods. Not only that: everything was good for you. “Drinks before dinner? The more the better. Smoke? You bet. Cigarettes actually made you healthier by soothing jangly nerves and sharpening jaded minds. … Happily, we were indestructible. We didn’t need seat belts, airbags, smoke detectors, bottled water or the Heimlich manoeuvre. We didn’t require child safety caps on our medicines. We didn’t need helmets when we rode our bikes.”

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:12 pm

barney wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:36 am
jserraglio wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:41 am
barney wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:38 am
Any time you maintain your country or people are exceptional, not like others, but better, wiser, more enlightened, that is overt nationalism. Any time you conflate God and your nation - a very common practice by Americans - that is overt nationalism.
The idea of American exceptionalism, out and about 150 years before the current nation eiven existed, was arguably one of the factors that shaped American resolve to intervene to save the "European heritage" from being obliterated by the Nazi menace. in my view that's exactly what happened, and like it or not, it was America's finest hour in its not always exceptional history.
That's true, and I for one am grateful for that. But it was a near-run thing - Roosevelt faced great opposition in his support for the allies, with a strong isolationist lobby, especially after Joseph Kennedy advised that England could not win. It took a direct attack on America for the US to join the war. And Hitler declared war on the US before the US declared war on Hitler. So you really had to be dragged in. Without Pearl Harbour, Europe might be Nazi today. However, once you were in the war, all you say is true. Quite heroic. And in my view especially after the war, with the Marshall Plan - visionary and generous.

I've been reading Bill Bryson's The Thunderbolt Kid about growing up in 1950s America. An exceptionally good read. He notes that in 1951, the year of his birth, the 5% of people on earth who were American had more wealth than the other 95% combined, including 80% of the world’s electrical goods. Not only that: everything was good for you. “Drinks before dinner? The more the better. Smoke? You bet. Cigarettes actually made you healthier by soothing jangly nerves and sharpening jaded minds. … Happily, we were indestructible. We didn’t need seat belts, airbags, smoke detectors, bottled water or the Heimlich manoeuvre. We didn’t require child safety caps on our medicines. We didn’t need helmets when we rode our bikes.”
Bottom line: Dragged in or not, attacked or not, declared war on or not, America in the end got in and saved what was once called Western civilization, motivated in part by the idea of exceptionalism. Like it or not, Europe was the beneficiary of that idea then and to some extent still is even now.

As for unexceptional 1950s Wonder-Bread America, I sure as shootin' need no book to remind me what that was like: in a lot of ways it was an idyllic time and place to grow up in.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:44 pm

Well, we don't usually agree on anything but I sure do agree with these comments of yours!!
Recently I came across "An Affair to Remember" and the scene with Deborah Kerr conducting that multicultural children's choir when they sang "The Tiny Scout" had the flavour of post-war American middle class security, happiness and prosperity about it. I found it very moving. These were paradoxically innocent times.

This all started because I was unnerved by the Nazi flag; I didn't mean it to morph into an outright attack on WF. He was, after all, protecting his privileged position as the foremost conductor in Europe - and the 'bargain' he made for that was accepting that an errant bomb could be dropped while he was doing what he did so well. Towards the end of the war he fled to Switzerland, but he was in considerable danger before that in his conducting in Europe. Not a martyr, but somebody who understood the opportunity cost of what he did; then and for posterity. Eric Kleiber chose to flee; that was his prerogative too.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:43 pm

And that seems to me an appropriate last word. :)

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by lennygoran » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:05 pm

Belle wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:35 am
I can't bring myself to criticize them for that.
Belle what about Trump's comments on Charlottesville?

" Trump said: "Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch",[361] adding in a later response that he believed there were "very fine people on both sides". :(

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Lance » Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:03 pm

Here's a relatively newer discussion on Furtwangler:

https://www.artsjournal.com/uq/2018/08/ ... nazis.html

I never perceived Furtwangler a Nazi, but as Joe Horowitz says in his article:
"Furtwängler was no Nazi. Behind the scenes, he helped Jewish musicians. Before the war ended, he fled Germany for Switzerland. Even so, his ­insistence on being “nonpolitical” was naive and self-deluded. As a tool of Hitler and Goebbels, he potently abetted the German war effort. In effect, he lent his prestige to the Third Reich whenever he performed, whether in Berlin or abroad. He was also famously photographed shaking hands with Goebbels from the stage."
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:11 pm

It all makes for disturbing reading, one way or another. The fact is that the intelligentsia and middle class admired Hitler and facilitated his rise to power; this has been the subject of a couple of documentaries I've seen recently. WF was right in the middle of that demographic.

The statements about the Vienna Philharmonic and musicians sent to their deaths not being a deterrent to WF - that's another ballgame altogether. Did the VPO hierarchy know they had died or just that had been interned; it makes some difference, since the anti-Jew zeitgeist could have convinced some people that internment was for reasons of 'personal safety'. I'm trying to look at all the angles.

Anyway, it's with the wisdom of hindsight that we seem to be making judgments on the individual choices people made and I wonder if that's even fair. As Harper Lee said, "you cannot really know a (hu)man unless you walk in his shoes".

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by jserraglio » Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:24 am

Belle wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:11 pm
Anyway, it's with the wisdom of hindsight that we seem to be making judgments on the individual choices people made and I wonder if that's even fair. As Harper Lee said, "you cannot really know a (hu)man unless you walk in his shoes".
I agree. If one is to accuse WF of collaboration b/c he did not undertake extraordinary measures to denounce the Nazi horrors, then how will those of us be judged who have witnessed the outrages perpetrated upon infants and children by Trump/Miller's covertly racist criminal cabal and in effect stood idly by wringing our hands?

Heroism is to be expected only of heroes, not of the general run of humanity.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by maestrob » Wed Nov 27, 2019 12:05 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:24 am
Belle wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:11 pm
Anyway, it's with the wisdom of hindsight that we seem to be making judgments on the individual choices people made and I wonder if that's even fair. As Harper Lee said, "you cannot really know a (hu)man unless you walk in his shoes".
I agree. If one is to accuse WF of collaboration b/c he did not undertake extraordinary measures to denounce the Nazi horrors, then how will those of us be judged who have witnessed the outrages perpetrated upon infants and children by Trump/Miller's covertly racist criminal cabal and in effect stood idly by wringing our hands?

Heroism is to be expected only of heroes, not of the general run of humanity.
Well said, jserraglio.

I have been conflicted about Furtwangler's politics all my life. While I don't agree with his style of music-making, I've come to the conclusion in my later years that he did the best he could under fiendishly difficult circumstances.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:18 am

Belle wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:11 pm
It all makes for disturbing reading, one way or another. The fact is that the intelligentsia and middle class admired Hitler and facilitated his rise to power; this has been the subject of a couple of documentaries I've seen recently. WF was right in the middle of that demographic.

The statements about the Vienna Philharmonic and musicians sent to their deaths not being a deterrent to WF - that's another ballgame altogether. Did the VPO hierarchy know they had died or just that had been interned; it makes some difference, since the anti-Jew zeitgeist could have convinced some people that internment was for reasons of 'personal safety'. I'm trying to look at all the angles.

Anyway, it's with the wisdom of hindsight that we seem to be making judgments on the individual choices people made and I wonder if that's even fair. As Harper Lee said, "you cannot really know a (hu)man unless you walk in his shoes".
The Vienna Phil was famously vastly more Nazified than the BPO, including having a Nazi as director into the 1970s. I know you love Vienna - I too think it's a wonderful city, and once wanted to settle there - but we should not be blind to this.
I agree about walking a mile in someone's shoes. As a friend observed to me years ago, when the someone finds out, you are a mile way and they have no shoes in which to pursue you.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:29 am

Quite right. And good joke.

I've probably told the story of meeting up with the widow of SMH music critic Fred Blanks in Augustinerkirche one Sunday when we were there with friends for mass. She heard the four of us talking in the pew behind her and turned around; Fred had died a few months before and she wanted to visit his city! It was about 10 minutes before the start of the mass. She said her late husband had been born in Vienna and that "it's still very anti-semitic here". I told her that, as I didn't have adequate German, I couldn't pick that up in the culture. She really was quite acerbic in her comments and I wondered why she'd bothered to come over.

Reading all about Brahms and 19th century composers I soon discovered the history of anti-semitism in German-speaking nations. It has left me bereft of understanding (plus my great grandmother was a Jew). In Nuremberg that same year we met two men in their 30s on a tram and they generously spent a day showing us around. We ended up at Zeppelin Field where Hitler held his mass rallies. God, it was awful (but it's still used as a racing track!). One of the fellows had better English than the other and I had halting German but I was able to ask why they believed the German people were so anti-semitic. Naturally one person's answer couldn't satisfy a national attitude, but Ralph (the lesser English speaker) leaned over to me and said, "it was all about money and them making all the money". That never satisfies me as any kind of explanation!! There were many poorer Jews in Russia and so forth who were persecuted and hated.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by John F » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:17 am

barney wrote:The Vienna Phil was famously vastly more Nazified than the BPO, including having a Nazi as director into the 1970s.
Who was that? Trumpeter Helmut Wobisch, an unrepentant Nazi, was the orchestra's Vorstand (administrative director) unfil 1967k but I don't know who his successor was. The orchesta has had no music director since the 1930s, by choice.
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Lance » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:48 am

I had no idea about trumpeter Helmut Wobisch until John Francis's mention of it above. This article from Wikipedia regarding the Vienna Philharmonic seems to give a lot of information you might like to read:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Philharmonic
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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:21 pm

The Vienna Philharmonic has posted quite a lot of material about its Nazi connections on its own website. As I said earlier, this is entirely consistent with the fact that the educated middle class, academics and civil servants were facilitators of Hitler. Some recent documentaries (amid the plethora of Hitleriana) explore those connections.

I still love the orchestra and I still like France too, despite its Napoleonic atrocities (and what Napoleon's military did to Vienna during the time of Haydn and Beethoven).

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:44 pm

Yes, it was Wobisch. Sorry, I thought he was there until 1971.

Sue, you don't have to be defensive about Vienna. As I said, I too love the city, and the orchestra. When I went backpacking round the world for a year in 1980-81, I decided I would settle there, but instead I came home and got married. At the time, you could get standing room tickets at the State Opera for 1 schilling! 20 cents or so, and probably only a couple of dollars in today's money.

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by barney » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:45 pm

PS, not that my wife ever reads CMG, but I should just put on the record that the choice I made was a very wise one. :D

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Re: DGG's Furtwangler Edition - who's going for it?

Post by Belle » Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:43 pm

Vienna is its own advertisement for glorious music, art and architecture. It existed long before Nazis and, in fact, the history of the Habsburg Empire, and what went on long before it, makes fascinating reading. Vienna had secret police back in the days of Metternich's Chancellorship. They were even suspicious of Schubert's salon of artists and intellectuals!!

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