Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Furtwangler In America II

Wilhelm Furtwangler’s second set of appearances in the United States occurred in 1926.

Between February 11 and April 2 of that year, Furtwangler conducted the New York Philharmonic in thirty-one concerts, more than three times the number of concerts he had led the previous year during his first American engagement.

Furtwangler arrived in the United States on the S.S. Albert Ballin of the Hamburg-America Line on February 10, the day before the first of his New York Philharmonic concerts.

In 1925, Furtwangler had traveled to the U.S. alone. In 1926, he was accompanied to the U.S. by his first wife, Zitla Lund, a Danish woman considered at the time to represent the height of sophistication, elegance and beauty.

Furtwangler and Lund had married in 1923. The marriage was not a happy one. The two became legally separated in 1931 and were divorced in 1943.

In the photograph below, Furtwangler and Lund are seen shipboard on the 1926 trans-Atlantic crossing. It is unknown whether the photograph depicts Furtwangler and Lund bound for America or on the return voyage to Europe.

Of the thirty-one concerts in 1926, twenty-five occurred in Manhattan and Brooklyn: Carnegie Hall was the site of twenty-one concerts; the Brooklyn Academy Of Music was the venue for two concerts; a single concert was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; and a single concert was offered on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.

In 1926, Furtwangler also conducted the New York Philharmonic in six out-of-town concerts, all part of a brief Eastern tour by the orchestra: two concerts at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh; one concert at the Academy Of Music in Philadelphia; one concert at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore; one concert at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.; and one concert at the Strand Theatre in Reading, Pennsylvania.

In the 1920s, visiting orchestras in Washington appeared at the National Theatre. It must have been the only suitable venue in Washington at the time (DAR Constitution Hall was not to open until 1929). Most persons undoubtedly find this fact remarkable today—and most persons who have attended performances at the National Theatre surely were unaware that Furtwangler twice appeared onstage there (he was to lead another concert in the theater the following year).

And whoever might have known that Furtwangler once conducted a concert in Reading, Pennsylvania? This fact must astonish everyone.

Furtwangler’s 1926 American repertory is listed below.

If Furtwangler offered more than one performance of a listed work, asterisks note the total number of performances. Works heavily-asterisked signify that the works were performed during the New York Philharmonic’s brief five-city, six-concert tour under Furtwangler.

If a listed work had been performed during Furtwangler’s 1925 visit to America (as was the case with four works, one each by Beethoven, Schumann, R. Strauss and Wagner), the repeat is noted.

“Egmont” Overture ******
“Leonore” Overture No. 3 **
Piano Concerto No. 4
Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica") **
Symphony No. 7 [Repeat]

Le Corsaire Overture **

Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3 and 10 ***
Symphony No. 4 *******
Violin Concerto

Symphony No. 4 **

Hussite Overture
Symphony No. 9 (“From The New World”) **

Concerto Grosso, Opus 6, Number 5 **

Harpsichord Concerto In D Major, Opus 21 **
Symphony No. 88 *****

Violin Concerto

“Le Nozze Di Figaro” Overture **
Piano Concerto No. 26 (“Coronation”) **
Serenade No. 13 (“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”) ****

Rapsodie Espagnole ***

Ancient Airs And Dances, Suite No. 2 ****

Cello Concerto No. 1

Verklarte Nacht

Entr’acte, Act II, From “Rosamunde”

Piano Concerto ** [Repeat]
Symphony No. 1 (“Spring”) ****

J. Strauss
Emperor Waltz

R. Strauss
Symphonic Interludes From “Intermezzo” **
Symphonia Domestica **
Till Eulenspiegel ***** [Repeat]

Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”) *****

Cello Suite **

“The Flying Dutchman” Overture **
“Die Meistersinger” Prelude ********* [Repeat]

“Euryanthe” Overture **
Invitation To The Dance
“Oberon” Overture **

The Valentini in question was Giuseppe Valentini (1681-1753), a minor master of the Italian Baroque. The composer’s so-called “Cello Suite” was probably a pastiche work created from Valentini’s many sonatas for cello and keyboard by cellist Hans Kindler, soloist for the performances. Kindler would take up the baton himself the following year; in 1931, Kindler would go on to found Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra.

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