FURTWÄNGLER, WILHELM. (1886-1954). Influential and controversial German conductor and composer. AMusMs. (Unsigned.) 2pp. Folio. N.p., N.d. Two pages (13 & 14) written in pencil on a single sheet from the score of his Third Symphony.
Although he perceived himself primarily as a composer, Furtwängler achieved lasting fame as a conductor, succeeding Richard Strauss at the Berlin Staatskapelle and, later, leading both the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. At the height of his career when the Nazi regime came to power, Furtwängler remained in Germany and pushed back against Nazi interference in the musical world. For example, he publicly argued with Joseph Goebbels’ antisemitic music classification in a series of published exchanges in 1933, assisted Jewish performers and composers in finding positions abroad – including Arnold Schoenberg – and rejected Nazi symbolism and anthems in his concert halls. He continued to oppose Nazi policies, employing Jewish musicians for concerts outside Germany and largely turn down, after the start of World War II, conducting opportunities in occupied countries. In 1935, he refused to pledge allegiance to Hitler but conceded Hitler’s leadership role in German cultural policy. Despite his opposition to the regime, the Nazis saw the internationally-renowned Furtwängler as adding prestige to their rule. In January 1945, under threat of arrest by the Gestapo, he fled to Switzerland and, after the war, his denazification trial showed that he never joined the Nazi party and that his involvement in Nazi affairs was minimal. Although he was boycotted during his lifetime by Arturo Toscanini, Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, and Isaac Stern, his defenders included prominent Jewish musical figures like Schoenberg, Yehudi Menuhin, Bronislaw Huberman, and Nathan Milstein. Summing up his allegiances, Czech writer and theater producer Ernst Lothar stated: “He was totally German and he remained so, despite the attacks. This is why he did not leave his defiled country, which was later counted to him as a stain by those who did not know him well enough. But he did not stay with Hitler and Himmler, but with Beethoven and Brahms,” (Sergiu Celibidache und Wilhelm Furtwängler: Der große philharmonische Konflikt in der Berliner Nachkriegszeit, Lang).