Two days after Furtwängler conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker in a special concert at the Titania-Palast on 20 June 1950, he was invited by Werner Egk to have a colloquium at the Berliner Hochschule für Musik. It was repeated in February 1951. These 2 talks on music were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, and excerpts of these were issued on LPs included in box sets over the years.
Titled “Snippets of Discussions and Interviews”, these excerpts were first issued in a 6-LP “Wilhelm Furtwängler in Memoriam” box set in late 1963, for the 10th anniversary of the maestro’s passing. Karla Höcker selected and compiled the excerpts which open with “The Essence is the Work” and then cover 6 areas in 29 tracks: About the Tempo, Acoustics in Large and Small Halls, Technique and Expression, Style Questions, Conductor-Problems, and Music in the Opera.
These were reissued around 1968 in the budget label Heliodor’s 8-LP “Wilhelm Furtwängler Berliner Philharmoniker” box set, and then in 1979 in another DGG 10-LP box set, “Das Vermächtnis Wilhelm Furtwängler”. Part of these excerpts also appeared on one side of the last LP in the Berliner Philharmoniker 100th anniversary commemorative box set issued in 1982.
On CDs, parts (totally only 26’58”) of these two colloquia together with radio interviews were included in the bonus CD in the Japanese 33-CD box set in 1994 (POCG 9476-9508, duration of 26’58”). More recently, “The Complete RIAS Recordings” 12-plus-1-CD box set by Audite also included Furtwängler’s colloquium on the art of interpretation on 27 February 1951.
Many of his views are insightful. One example is on precision:
“To obtain precision, if one beats firmly and clearly, is very simple. But to combine with this firm and clear beat all the other qualities which one wants to and must obtain from the orchestra – either a hard sound or a gentle sound, a legato, a staccato, transitions, all these – is also part of conducting technique. Everyone’s technique is different.”