Fürtwangler, Wilhelm, born 25-01-1886 in Berlin, was a German conductor and composer. He was born in Berlin into a prominent family. His father Adolf was an archaeologist, his mother a painter. Most of his childhood was spent in Munich, where his father taught at the university in that city. He was given a musical education from an early age, and developed an early love of Ludwig van Beethoven, Beethoven died in Vienna age 56, on 28-03-1827,
a composer with whom he remained closely associated throughout his life. Hitler spent much time in Bayreuth with Winifred Wagner
for the Wagner Spielen, performances.
Fürtwangler appeared in 1938 to conduct a cycle of Richard Wagner
‘s Ring and under extreme pressure from the Nazi Party, fled to Swiss. Furtwängler’s relationship with, and attitude towards, Adolf Hitler
and the Nazi Party was a matter of much controversy. Because of his international renown, he was appointed as the first vice-president of the Reichsmusikkammer. However, Furtwängler never joined the Nazi Party nor did he really approve of them, much like the composer Richard Strauss.
Strauss died age 73, on 03-06-1899 in Vienna,
who made no secret of his dislike of the Nazis. Furtwängler always refused to give the Nazi salute.
He was treated relatively well by the Nazis, he had a high profile, and was an important cultural figure. Furtwängler in turn conducted several concerts for the direct benefit of the Nazis, in February 1938 he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic at a concert held for the Hitler Youth and that same year conducted a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in celebration of Hitler’s birthday. He was a Hitler favourite now (see Paula
). He was good friends with Winifred Wagner and her partner Heinz Tietjen
and visit them often in the Wahnfriedhaus.
He later said he tried to protect German culture from the Nazis, it is now known that he used his influence to help Jewish musicians and non musicians escape the Third Reich. From an extensive list of Jews he helped, was the name of Oskar Schindler
. Albert Speer claimed that in December 1944 Furtwängler asked whether Germany had any chance of winning the war. Speer replied in the negative and advised the conductor to flee to Swiss from possible Nazi retribution.
Death and burial ground of Fürtwangler, Wilhelm.
He died in Ebersteinburg, close to Baden-Baden, of pneumonia at the age of 68, on 30-11-1954. He is buried in the Heidelberg Bergfriedhof and only steps of the grave of Albert Speer and Magarete Speer
and the Flyer Ace Oberst, Kommodore Jagd Gruppe 300
, Walter Dahl