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Thread: Explain fascination with Furtwängler

  1. #166
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I've always thought this about the Furtwangler cult.
    There is no "Furtwangler cult."

    There are some extra-musical associations which reinforce this belief system:
    What "belief system"? Who, besides you, is making the "associations"?

    1. Furtwangler takes us back to the 'end of the nineteenth century' so to speak, when the modern world had not yet taken over.
    If Furtwangler's conducting takes you back to the 19th century, do let everyone know how they can hitch a ride. Sounds like fun.

    2. The music associated with him is almost always German (Wagner, Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven), so Furtwangler represents a kind of "going back to the source" of all classical music, which of course is German
    The source of all classical music is not German. There is no single national or ethnic source of all classical music.

    3. Implicit in this love of Furtwangler is an implicit 'forgiveness' and redemption of things Germanic, after the events of WWII; a 'keeping of the flame' as an antidote to any bitterness towards Germanic culture, such as that exemplified by Bruno Walter's post-war agenda to elevate and promote Mahler
    Implicit - no, explicit - in this fantasy is projection onto others of a derogatory stereotype of Germanness as something that needs to be forgiven and redeemed.

    I don't think people can listen to music completely objectively, so there is always going to be some sort of context associated with it. In the case of Furtwangler, I think this is especially true.
    How would you know what "context" anyone "associates with" Furtwangler's music-making? Have you ever actually surveyed people who enjoy his work and asked them to describe their "context"?

    Another factor: Like blues aficionados who are interested in old recordings from the WWII era and before, these old recordings lend a sense of historic authenticity to the experience.
    I'll lay any odds that for most people the poor sound quality lends only frustration and regret that we can't have his peformances in better sound.

    Well, isn't there a certain celebrity status attached to Furtwangler as a "great conductor?" That's part of the fascination, isn't it? He's a "brand name" like many other famous conductors like Karajan, Bernstein, Toscanini, etc.
    Since all great musicians have "a certain celebrity status," Furtwangler's "brand name" explains nothing. But "celebrity" and "brand name" are here merely insulting. A "celebrity" has been jokingly described as someone who's famous for being famous. Furtwangler is famous for being one of the world's great musicians.

    There is certain common knowledge of historical context that is inescapable, unless you've been living in a cave all your life.
    "Common knowledge" is not really common. Different people possess different knowledge, and interpret even commonly observed realities differently. Everyone's "context" is different. If you haven't noticed this, particularly in the America of 2020, you've been living in a cave all your life.

    The idea that all of us, or most of us, who appreciate Furtwangler do so in a "context" defined by you and your mythical notion of "Germanness" (or whatever) is extraordinarily arrogant.

    Perhaps you're attempting to "objectify" the music out of its context as a convenience.
    Perhaps you're attempting to psychoanalyze people, distort their realities to fit your fantasies, and - to use one of your favorite terms of opprobrium - INVALIDATE them.

    So don't try to consider Furtwangler recordings apart from these factors.
    So don't try to tell other people how they feel, what they think, and what they should do. If you have anything of value to say about Furtwangler's music-making and would like to express YOUR OWN opinion of his work, I'm sure everyone would be pleased to hear it.

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  3. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Al View Post
    Phew, I thought the HvK threads could get heated. WF seems to win on that over HvK.
    LOL!! really - I'm used to doing battle on the political forums, where things really get heated and nasty...so this is pretty low-temperature...I'll keep jerking this guy's chain until it gets boring...then I thnk I'll go forum musical shopping...this Teutonic adulation stuff has never been my style...

  4. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Ah, now we are back to it being objective truth as opposed to subjective opinion.

    Then why is Furtwangler more popular than Toscanini? They were exact contemporaries. Toscanini actually even made more recordings.
    I don’t think you can say that he is more popular. He has become a cult figure among people like you as he represents a bygone age which isn’t with us any more. The vast majority of conductors after the war followed Toscanini’s approach to a greater or lesser extent so you can get ‘Toscanini’ but in far better sound. Furtwangler was the product of a bygone age. I doubt whether we will see his like again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Ah, now we are back to it being objective truth
    go attend 10 Beethoven symphony concerts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Quote me where I say Furtangler....
    Sorry, you're done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Quote me where I say Furtangler is the only true approach to Beethoven. Hell, I just praised several Toscanini recordings 5 minutes ago. I have actually shown myself on my time on this forum to be much more open-minded then you have. You are a broken record of Toscanini-Reiner-Solti. But you accuse me of being the one who dismisses all other approaches than the one I like.

    Do you ever get tired of lying and distorting what people say?
    Furtwangler had the better orchestra though, Toscanini was probably closer than what it sounds. The Berlin Philharmonic of the time had amazing players, they played passages with amazing virtuosity. They don't play like that anymore, anywhere.
    Last edited by 1996D; May-18-2020 at 17:45.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Sorry, you're done.
    LOL, go beat your chest Tarzan. I'll keep on enjoying Furtwangler.

  10. #173
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I don’t think you can say that he is more popular. He has become a cult figure among people like you as he represents a bygone age which isn’t with us any more. The vast majority of conductors after the war followed Toscanini’s approach to a greater or lesser extent so you can get ‘Toscanini’ but in far better sound. Furtwangler was the product of a bygone age. I doubt whether we will see his like again
    The word "cult" should be banned on TC. Also the phrase "people like you." I'm sure that Brahmsianhorn does not belong to a cult, and that there are no other people like him.
    Last edited by Woodduck; May-18-2020 at 17:45.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    I think this really just comes down to what we value highest in performances. Some of us value technical precision and perfect execution, fidelity to the score, and this is completely valid. Others prefer a more unpredictable, spontaneous, highly personal performance style that can come at the cost of flawless execution. That’s really all there is to it, and that’s all I’ve deduced from this thread. The only thing that bugs me is asserting that one approach is “more correct” or “closer to the composer’s intentions.” We will never, EVER know this. I think people use this claim as an attempt to objectify their preferences.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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    To everyone who is throwing around the word “cult”: how does a preference for Furtwangler differ from a preference for any other conductor? Or composer? Or style? Or film? Or ice cream flavor? By that logic I belong to a “Bach cult” because he is my favorite composer and a “vanilla ice cream cult.” We get rather silly conclusions if we follow that logic.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

  15. #176
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    I think this really just comes down to what we value highest in performances. Some of us value technical precision and perfect execution, fidelity to the score, and this is completely valid. Others prefer a more unpredictable, spontaneous, highly personal performance style that can come at the cost of flawless execution. That’s really all there is to it, and that’s all I’ve deduced from this thread. The only thing that bugs me is asserting that one approach is “more correct” or “closer to the composer’s intentions.” We will never, EVER know this. I think people use this claim as an attempt to objectify their preferences.
    You can't deny virtuosity though, Paganini and Liszt were the best because of it along with their rubato abilities, and Furtwangler and his Berlin boys were the best in that regard as well.

    True professionalism and artistry that is dead and buried today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    LOL, go beat your chest Tarzan. I'll keep on enjoying Furtwangler.
    Go for it....enjoy...

  17. #178
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    To everyone who is throwing around the word “cult”: how does a preference for Furtwangler differ from a preference for any other conductor? Or composer? Or style? Or film? Or ice cream flavor? By that logic I belong to a “Bach cult” because he is my favorite composer and a “vanilla ice cream cult.” We get rather silly conclusions if we follow that logic.
    No there is definitely a cult following of some performers like Glenn Gould. Callas is another. There are people who collect every single disk they have of them and whatever. It is more than just an interest or a favourite conductor or performer. Nothing wrong with that but it’s more than just having an interest
    Last edited by DavidA; May-18-2020 at 17:55.

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    It's probably unnecessary to point out that no one will ever know how Beethoven's music was played in 1820, or whether Beethoven would even have liked the way his contemporaries played it. I love Furtwangler's Beethoven, but don't always want to hear it done his way. Sometimes Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his Chamber Orchestra of Europe, or Roy Goodman and his Hanover Band, hit the spot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    No there is definitely a cult following of some performers like Glenn Gould. Callas is another. There are people who collect every single disk they have of them and whatever. It is more than just an interest or a favourite conductor or performer. Nothing wrong with that but it’s more than just having an interest
    I would call that an intense passion or even obsession - nothing wrong with obsessions, I have many of them, we all have them. But as for “cult,” let’s consult the dictionary:

    1. A particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2. An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers
    3. The physical fitness cult.
    4. The object of such devotion.
    5. A group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

    “Veneration” means we treat it with reverence like a religious object. I have never heard of anyone bowing down to Furtwangler, or Gould, or Callas, or Karajan, or Toscanini, or whoever. In the arts world, there are a few exceptions that I’m aware of people venerating artistic figures in a religious way, like Shakespeare and Mozart. Maybe there are people out there who see Bach or Wagner as gods. These people are called “weirdos.” Having a major interest or obsession with Furtwangler is not “worshipping” him, and the term “cult” implies that it’s a small, bizarre sect of people involved in a peculiar religious ritual of Furtdolatry. All I see is people with interests and preferences.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; May-18-2020 at 18:04.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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