C1176. WILHELM FURTWÄNGLER Cond. RAI S.O., Roma: Symphony #5 in c; Pastorale Symphony #6 in F (both Beethoven), recorded 10 Jan., 1952; Furtwängler Cond.Berlin Phil., w.Yehudi Menuhin: Concerto in D (Beethoven), Broadcast Performance, 30 Sept., 1947. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00197. - 8014399501972
“Few other musicians are more intertwined in debates around collaboration, passive resistance, and the relationship between art and politics as the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. Forty seven years old when the Nazis came to power, Furtwängler was at the peak of his career, perceiving himself (and perceived by others) as a representative and defender of Germany’s glorious musical heritage. The son of a renowned archaeologist, he was born to a conservative bourgeois Berlin family in 1886. He was raised to believe in the supremacy of ‘German-ness’, a supremacy not linked to race but rather to spiritual and artistic creativity. Like many elites of his time, he saw the ‘Jewish question’ as one of culture rather than of race. Having studied music in Munich, the young Furtwängler acquired increasingly illustrious positions through the early part of the century. In 1922 he was named music director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and during the inter-war years he conducted regularly at the top opera houses in Europe. By the time of Hitler’s ascent to power, he was perceived by many to be Germany’s greatest conductor.
The initial rise to power of the Nazis was welcomed by Furtwängler, as by many other conservatives in Germany. Opposed to the perceived radicalism and immorality of the Weimar Republic, and drawn to the order and ‘German values’ that the Nazis promised to provide, the conductor hoped that the Nazi party would increase pay and job security for the nation’s musicians, and focus on developing the prestige and pre-eminence of the German musical tradition. As the director of the bankrupt Berlin Philharmonic, he welcomed the Nazis’ sense of urgency over the state of the nation’s arts.
Furtwängler was by no means an ideal or self-evident puppet for the Nazis; throughout his career, he made it clear that it was his desire for beautiful music, not the desire to gain political favour, that motivated his decisions. On the one hand, he was in many ways a conservative man, something that found favour with the Party. In the midst of the experimental and avant-garde 1920s, he publicly avowed his distaste for modern music such as swing, jazz, and atonal music. On the other hand, he did not ignore musical talent for the sake of these convictions. He employed many Jewish musicians in his orchestra, and maintained friendships with members of the Jewish German élite. In 1933, however, an era began in which the separation of art and politics became simply impossible.”
“Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, OM, KBE was an American-born violinist, violist, and conductor who spent most of his performing career in the United Kingdom. He was a student of Louis Persinger, Georges Enescu, and Adolf Busch.
Yehudi Menuhin performed for allied soldiers during World War II, and went with the composer Benjamin Britten to perform for the inmates of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, after its liberation in April 1945. He went back to Germany in 1947 to perform music under the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler as an act of reconciliation, becoming the first Jewish musician to go back to Germany after the Holocaust. After building early success on richly romantic and tonally opulent performances, he experienced considerable physical and artistic difficulties caused by overwork during World War II and unfocused early training. Careful practice and study combined with meditation and yoga helped him overcome many of these problems, and he continued to perform to an advanced age, becoming known for profound interpretations of an austere quality.
In 1952, Menuhin met and befriended the influential yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. Menuhin arranged for Iyengar to teach abroad in London, Switzerland, Paris and elsewhere. This was the first time that many Westerners had been exposed to yoga. In 1962 he established the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey. He also established the music program at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, California sometime around then. In 1965 he received an honorary knighthood.
During the 1980s he made jazz recordings with Stephane Grappelli and of Eastern music with the great sitarist Ravi Shankar. In 1985 he was awarded British citizenship and had his honorary knighthood upgraded to a full one. In 1993 he was created a life peer as Baron Menuhin, of Stoke D'Abernon in the County of Surrey. Lord Menuhin died in Berlin following a brief illness, from complications of bronchitis.
Menuhin credited the German-Jewish philosopher Constantin Brunner with providing him with ‘a theoretical framework within which I could fit the events and experiences of life’ (CONVERSATIONS WITH MENUHIN, pp.32-34).
Arguably the most famous of Menhuin's violins is the ‘Lord Wilton’ Guarneri del Gesù violin made in 1742.”
- The Violin Site