How to conduct Richard Strauss

How to conduct Richard Strauss


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2014

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


  • Steve says:

    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.

  • David Boxwell says:

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

  • basia jaworski says:

    From Henk Rentenaar:

    This is a clip from the 1994 documentary “The Art of Conducting: Great Conductors of the Past.” Richard Strauss is conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in a performance of Till Eulenspiegel. It’s amusing that he could be conducting such great music while looking so extremely bored.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I came across this video

      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.

  • Doug says:

    Possibly Helmut Schlövogt principal oboe.

  • Dan says:

    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.

  • anonymus says:

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

  • Rodney Greenberg says:

    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.