How to conduct Richard Strauss

The inscrutable Furtwängler in 1950. Can anyone name the players? Or the ramrod audience?
furtwangler strauss

Here’s the composer conducting, in 1944. No closeups of the (Vienna) players or, significantly, any audience.

h/t Allan Evans

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  • On my iPhone I see the 1950 BPO YouTube video on top and below it a still from the same performance.
    Bizarre one minute ballet sequence inserted around 8:40.

  • John Ardoin’s “The Furtwangler Record” lists this as Berlin, December 1951. Film is entitled “Botschafter der Musik.”

    • I came across this video

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MUxlt9_lnQ

      which contains several unedited takes from the production of this film (at the beginning, you can even see the film clapper holding the clapboard in front of Strauss’ face). At 16:00, after the first runthrough, Strauss briefly talks to the orchestra.
      Strangely, the last minutes of the video are silent footage of Arthur Nikisch conducting, with the film rotated on its side. There is no information about the video and the quality is fairly bad, even for Youtube, but it contains some interesting material.

  • Fantastic tempo and rhythm. It’s being played too geschleppt and free-style nowadays. The stability in tempo gives the music the ability to speak for itself.

  • This is Berlin Phil in Berlin Titania Palast, one of their temporary performance halls after the war AFAIK.

  • What makes it less amusing is that despite the original clapperboarding (the whole point of which is to synchronise pictures and sound), the picture here has been allowed to slip about two seconds behind the audio and nobody has done anything about it. This makes the old wizard’s beat seem even more inscrutable. The award-winning 1994 documentary referred to was made by BBC TV and first shown on BBC2 (directed by Sue Knussen, wife of composer Oliver Knussen). Every sequence of vintage film was painstakingly synchronised where it was faulty. 20 years on, uploading a tape of historic concert footage properly to YouTube needs a lot more care than people think.

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