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The composer | The man | The conductor



ca 1935

ca 1937



Introduction to Furtwängler's music


Music samples





Introduction to Furtwängler's music


"I was a composer well before becoming a conductor, and that all my life I have considered myself as a composer who conducts, but never as a conductor". Fifty years after his death, Furtwängler's career as a composer still goes with controversy, as typically shown in Norman Lebrecht's column "Conductors who score", or the importance in intimate life of Furtwängler is somehow underestimated as shown in in NY Times article "Being Torn Between the Baton and the Pen" (oct 04). Still, his preoccupation with the truth must be be underlined in order to understand Furtwängler's music. He once wrote “Art is sincerity”. This sincerity was precisely the cause of his sufferings as a composer.  His assimilation of the art of the past which he considered a living and not a bygone tradition should be envisaged as a veritable sacrifice.  His refusal to compromise with what was fashionable in composition no doubt explains the anathema that has sometimes been cast on his music. 

Furtwängler the composer, a paradoxical career by Bruno d'Heudières, 1994 (RTF file - 3 pages, 0,08 Mo)



Fiche technique de l'enregistrement de la Symphonie n°2 de Furtwängler, Hambourg 1948 (SWF 921-2)

Technical sheet of the recording of Furtwängler's Symphonie n°2, Hamburg 1948 (SWF 921-2)



"Setting up barriers"

Friedrich Schnapp, who counted among his friends, could never hear his chamber music: "I have only heard people talking about the chamber works. He was imposing draconian conditions! For instance he did not allow anyone to play his second sonata for piano and violin. One had to get his prior approval. This is a bad thing. Because when you have composed a work, anyone shall be in a position to play it. Some play it well, others will play it less well. Saying "I only authorise this one or that one to perform it" is jeopardising the future of the work. Half of the musicians will already say: "I will not play it, there are so many others pieces to play!". Furtwängler should have said : "No one has played it better than this one". It would have been a better starting point that setting up barriers".

Excerpt of an interview with Friedrich Schnapp, in booklet of CD SWF 921-2, available on the members sites




Sophie Moser (violin) and Katja Huhn (piano) play the Sonata n°2 by Furtwängler: Allegro Moderato and Presto (excerpts). Recorded live on 11th October 2008 in Paris at a concert organised by the SWF




Although the entire work of Furtwängler have not been listed yet, we can have an idea of the major works...

Listing by Bruno d'Heudières, 1994 (RTF file - 1 page - 0,05 Mo)

Another listing by Stéphane Topakian, 1989 (PDF file - 2 pages -  1,3 Mo)

Some performers of his works (PDF file - 1 page - 0,7 Mo)


Solo piano works by Furtwängler. Between the years 1894 and 1903 Wilhelm Furtwängler composed more than two dozen works for solo piano. The study proposed hereunder is by Robert Rivard, the first artist to have recorded these works. Since June 2007 these recordings are available for free on Robert Rivard's website.

A brief survey of the solo piano works by Robert Rivard, 1989 (RTF file, 2 pages)


  Scherzo, 1902

Scherzo, 1902


The SWF supports the publishing of Furtwängler's works by Ries & Erler


Te Deum  Partition autographe du Te Deum

Te Deum, ca 1906





Discography of Furtwängler's works, established by Mikhail Dubov

Discography of the works by Wilhelm Furtwängler by Mikhail Dubov, 2012 (PDF file - 16 pages - 1,5 Mo)


The first discography established by the SWF in 1989 :

Discography by Philippe Jacquard, 1989 (PDF file - 2 pages - 1,2 Mo)