Berliner Philharmoniker

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johnny_thunder
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Berliner Philharmoniker

Post by johnny_thunder » 05 Dec 2004 23:44

[Several topics dealing with the Berlin Philharmonic have been merged. Ivan Ž.]

The last concert in Third Reich's Berlin, 12 April 1945. Does anyone have any knowledge of this particular Berlin Philharmonic performance ?

I understand that the evening was arranged by Albert Speer for leading Nazis and that after the event, members of the Hitler Youth handed out suicide pills to the audience.

Does anyone know - the actual purpose of the event, the playlist, what happened to the orchestra, were suicide pills really given out, the venue.

Heinrich George
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Post by Heinrich George » 06 Dec 2004 01:56

According to Ryan's "The Last Battle:"

Date - 12 April 1945
Venue - Beethoven Hall
Conductor - Robert Heger
Program - Beethoven's Violin Conceto, die Gotterdammerung

However, Ryan's footnote states that orchestra survivors disagree on the date, the program, and even the performers [soloists?].

Beevor is the only source I know that mentions the distribution of the cyanide pills and frankly I'm skeptical. My impression was that these weren't being mass produced and that they were distributed discreetly, mostly to party members.

I believe Furtwangler's last concert was on 23 January.

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Post by xcalibur » 06 Dec 2004 17:20

From Nicolaus von Below, Als Hitlers Adjutant 1937-1945, Mainz: Hase un Koehler, 1980. p. 409:
It was unforgettable. I sat with Speer and Admiral Doenitz and listened to Beethoven's Violin Concerto, the finale from Gotterdammerung and Bruckner's Romantic Symphony.
From Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, pp506-507:
When he [Speer] learned in early April that Goebbels had ordered all the musicians to be drafted at once into the People's Militia for the defense of Berlin, he dispatched Poser to remove the musicians' cards from the files of the Berlin draft board. He also told the orchestra's manager to schedule a series of last concerts. "When I would ask them to play Bruckner's Romantic Symphony, I told him, it meant the end was near and the musicians should get ready to leave Berlin."
As to the issue of the cyanide capsules, Beevor is not the "only" source; from Sereny, p. 507:
"What those who didn't attend did't see", said Annemarie [Kempf, Speer's secretary], " were the baskets offered to spectators on the way out--cyanide capsules. Speer was just horrified. We never found out who organised it, but doubtlessly the party. The baskets were offered by Hitler Youths in uniform-- children."

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Post by Heinrich George » 06 Dec 2004 21:23

An excerpt from the last Furtwangler concert (Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in c, Op. 68, fourth movement) is available from Music and Arts. This apparently is the only part of the tape that survived.

http://www.musicandarts.com/HistoricalC ... ml#CD-1092

Many other historic recordings are available through this label, including the famous 1942 BPO performance of Beethoven's 9th.

walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 07 Dec 2004 01:58

According to Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (Macmillan 1970) at 548-9:
.....[in order to subvert Goebbels' decision to conscript all members of theBerlin Philharmonic] I had Colonel von Poser go to the draft boards and destroy the records of the Philharmonic musicians. In order to give the orchestra financial support as well, my Ministry arranged a few concerts.

"When Bruckner's Romantic Symphony [#4 in E flat Major] is played, it will mean the end is upon us," I told my friends. That final concert took place on the afternoon of April 12, 1945. The Philharmonic Hall [sic, actually, I believe the Philharmonic Hall had been bombed out monthe before. Kaschner] was unheated and everyone who wanted to hear this last concert in the imperiled city sat huddled in overcoats. Electricity was usually cut off at the hour of the concert, but for this one day I ordered the current to be kept on so that the hall could be lighted. The Berliners must have wondered. For the beginning I had ordered Brünnhilde's last aria and the finale from Götterdammerung - a rather bathetic and also melancholy gesture pointing to the ending of the Reich. After Beethoven's Violin Concerto came the Bruckner symphony, dear to me especially for its architectonic final movement. This was the last music I would hear for a long time to come.
[Incidentally, I well understand Speer's point about Bruckner's 4th (Romantic) Symphony. I have heard it performed many times over the past many years, including performances by the Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic and by the Berlin Philharmonic with von Karajan on the podium. But absolutely none can compete with the incredibly marvelous interpretation I heard a few weeks ago by Hans Graf conducting the Houston Symphony. Graf is an Austrian - like Bruckner - and is able to capture the power and sublimity of Bruckner's concept, while maintaining perfect clarity of thew inner voices of the orchestra. Those with a passion for classical music should keep their eye on him - he is just becoming known as a guest conductor with some of the best orchestras in the U.S.]

One small addendum:

There are several CDs which include the Furtwängler's March 22/24, 1942 live recording of the Beethoven 9th, all of those which I have heard being IMHO technically flawed one way or another in the reproduction, although the conductor's fiery, almost defiant interpretation does come through. It's obviously a matter of personal taste, but I find the Furtwängler version far too overdramatized and "Germanic" (in the sense I guess of bombastic). For interpretations of the piece from that same era I vastly prefer Toscannini's 1948 performance with the NBC Symphony - classic, crisp, inspired with a humanity which I find lacking in Furtwängler, and better recorded. De gustibus......

Regards, Kaschner

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R.M. Schultz
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Post by R.M. Schultz » 07 Dec 2004 02:33

walterkaschner wrote:… I find the Furtwängler version far too overdramatized and "Germanic" (in the sense I guess of bombastic). For interpretations of the piece from that same era I vastly prefer Toscannini's 1948 performance with the NBC Symphony - classic, crisp, inspired with a humanity which I find lacking in Furtwängler, and better recorded. …
Classical music listeners of that time divided sharply over those who favored a classical tradition (Furtwängler, Walter, Reiner) and a more romantic interpretation (Toscannini, Stokowski).

There was a famous trading of barbs between Toscannini and Furtwängler. While partisans of Furtwängler always lauded his "organic" sense of time, Toscannini though his beat was irregular, commenting: "If Furtwängler's heart was as irregular as his baton, he would be a dead man."

Some time later, when this bon mot was repeated to Furtwängler, he only nodded and commented, "NBC could save a lot of money if they simply replaced Toscannini with a metronome."
Heinrich George wrote:Many other historic recordings are available through this label, including the famous 1942 BPO performance of Beethoven's 9th.
That’s probably the best recording of that symphony ever made. It is absolutely superlative!

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Post by panzertruppe2001 » 07 Dec 2004 18:43

Excuse me if I am writing nonsense. Was Von Karajan member of the Orchestra during this years?

Excuse my clasical music lack of information.

Thanks

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R.M. Schultz
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Post by R.M. Schultz » 07 Dec 2004 19:56

panzertruppe2001 wrote:Was Von Karajan member of the Orchestra during this years?
After Hitler came to power, Von Karajan joined the Nazi Party, so that he could continue his professional career in music, conducting various concerts in Germany. He first conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in 1938, to much acclaim. In October 1942 Karajan got himself into trouble with the Nazis by marrying Anita Gutermann, who was Jewish. He was banned from making further performances by the Nazis as he was touring Italy. His musical career suffered a heavy setback during the rest of the war.

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Post by walterkaschner » 07 Dec 2004 20:15

panzertruppe2001 wrote:Was Von Karajan member of the Orchestra during this years?
Not as such. He first guest-conducted that orchestra in 1938, as he did on occasion thereafter, but Hitler was never fond of him as a conductor and he fell totally out of favor in 1942, when he married a woman who was one-quarter Jewish - even though von Karajan had been a member of the Nazi party since 1935 (which Furtwängler never was.) Von Karajan was named Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1955, after he was "de-Nazified".
R.M. Schultz wrote:Classical music listeners of that time divided sharply over those who favored a classical tradition (Furtwängler, Walter, Reiner) and a more romantic interpretation (Toscannini, Stokowski).

There was a famous trading of barbs between Toscannini and Furtwängler. While partisans of Furtwängler always lauded his "organic" sense of time, Toscannini though his beat was irregular, commenting: "If Furtwängler's heart was as irregular as his baton, he would be a dead man."

Some time later, when this bon mot was repeated to Furtwängler, he only nodded and commented, "NBC could save a lot of money if they simply replaced Toscannini with a metronome."
I personally would consider Toscannini and Reiner as leaning more toward classicism, and Furtwängler, Walter and Stokowski as the Romantics. But be that as it may, there certainly was a profound difference of musical approach between the two, which lasted into the 1950's, as I can personally recall. Nonetheless, when Toscannini's tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic expired in 1936, he maintained that Furtwängler was the only conductor worthy of succeeding him in that post, and Furtwängler was offered and accepted the position. This infuriated Göring on the one hand, as well as certain influential Jewish contributors to the Philharmonic on the other, and the German invasion of the Rhineland later that year put quietus to the deal.

Regards, Kaschner

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Post by panzertruppe2001 » 08 Dec 2004 14:01

Thanks Schulz and Walterkaschner because the answers about Von Karajan.

Panzertruppe2001

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Latrans
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Post by Latrans » 08 Jan 2005 02:17

I read in "World War Two Through German Eyes" by James Lucas that Conductor Furtwaengler was talking to Field marshal von Brauchitsch and asked him ----

"How can you General Officers let Hitler, who was only a corporal, tell you how to fight a war?"

To which von Brauchitsch answered, "If Hitler could play the harmonica, do you think you would still be conducting the Berlin Philharmonic?"

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Post by Phil Nix » 01 Jan 2009 11:44

I have copies of a number of wartime concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic under Wilhelm Furtwängler and I wonder who would be in the audience. Who liked this type of music?
Phil Nix

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Post by Rexus » 10 Jan 2009 01:13

A legendary conductor. His March 1942 live recording of Beethoven's 9th symphony, despite the poor sound quality, is considered by some to be the greatest performance ever recorded, by any one. "Imbued with religous devotion."

Hitler adored Wagner, and Furtwängler was director at Bayreuth and the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwängler made the so called Gottbegnadete list... His genius was recognized during his lifetime. There would be many politicians at a Furtwängler concert whether they enjoyed the music or not.



Do you recognize anyone in the above video? I dont know enough about the political personalities to say anything definitive, but apparently Goebbels is there.

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Post by Annelie » 15 Dec 2013 16:52

Does anyone know if there is an recording of the last concert played in Berlin April 12, 1945 by Bruckner the Brünnhilde's last aria and finale from Götterdämmerung?

Looked at youtube but found nothing. I do know Speer had ordered the current to be kept on as it was usually cut off at that hour so maybe there was not an opportunity to record?

I think you would have to feel what everyone was feeling at the moment in how it was played?
Last edited by Marcus on 15 Dec 2013 17:20, edited 1 time in total.

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Annelie
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Das Reichsorchester

Post by Annelie » 30 Jul 2014 12:35

Has anyone here bought this DVD?

http://www.amazon.com/Das-Reichsorchest ... 000XXH5PC/

What was your opinion of it?

thanks

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