Classical Sunday: Furtwängler’s Symphony No. 2

Universal things, Furtwängler wrote in 1940, can only be said in a universal language.

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Wilhelm Furtwängler – Symphony No. 2, written in 1944 and 1945 and first performed under his own direction at a concert given by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in February 1948.  The recording linked to here is a live recording of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, released in 2002.

Furtwängler described this Symphony No. 2 in E minor as his spiritual testament, as one can read in the text that comes with the YouTube video here linked.  This passage also caught our attention:

“Another problem arose from criticism that accused him of rejecting contemporary music wholesale, a charge he indignantly rejects, while insisting that the future lay with tonality, rather than with the eclectic individualism that he certainly found unsatisfactory. Universal things, he wrote in 1940, can only be said in a universal language.

The name Furtwängler came up this week in the following context, so his most famous piece is our logical choice for our Classical Sunday.

“Music is a unique language for expressing emotions in the human soul, and be it Furtwängler conducting a classical orchestra, or the Beatles strumming on guitars, the human musicians are by their musical gifts expressing through the material means of orchestra or guitar in the material-spiritual language of music those spiritual emotions which a whole public wants musicians to express for it. And if the musicians are soulless, the most brilliant of recording engineers will never make a living. In every human art, the mechanics are necessarily subordinate to the artists.”

~ His Excellency Richard Williamson

Read the whole issue here; it’s well worth reading:
“Sorcerers Control?”


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