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The Furtwangler Legacy

Rob Cowan introduces an evening devoted to the career of the legendary German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, who died 50 years ago today. Furtwangler was revered by his fellow-musicians, but his later career was marked by political controversy, especially over his role during the Nazi period in Germany.

In the course of the evening, Rob Cowan, Richard Osborne, the historian Richard Evans and other commentators will attempt to discover the man behind the formal public mask, and evaluate the elements which made him arguably the greatest conductor of all time.


1 hour 45 minutes


Who was Wilhelm Furtwangler? Rob Cowan looks at his background.

Wagner: Siegfried's Funeral Music (from Gotterdammerung)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwangler
(recorded live in Berlin in 1949)

Rob Cowan talks to the musicologist Eric Wen about the influence of Heinrich Schenker's system of musical analysis on Furtwangler's work.

Mozart: Symphony No 40 in Gm, K550 (1st movement)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwangler

Rob Cowan and Richard Osborne compare live and studio performances by Furtwangler.

Schumann: Symphony No 4 in Dm (movements 3 and 4)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwangler

Former players with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Philharmonia and the London Philharmonic recall their experiences of working with Furtwangler.

Weber: Overture to 'Der Freischutz'
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwangler
(recorded live in Berlin, 1944)


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