Remembering the conductor that got shot

Remembering the conductor that got shot


norman lebrecht

May 22, 2015

The Berlin Philharmonic, setting aside other distractions, is dedicating this weekend’s concerts to the memory of Leo Borchard, who conducted its first post-Hitler concert on May 26, 1945, standing in for Wilhelm Furtwängler who had fled to Switzerland.

Borchard, 46 at the time, had been born in Moscow to German parents and lived in Berlin through the Nazi era, doing his best to help fugitives by furnishing them with false papers.

On August 23, 1945, returning home from a concert, Borchard’s British army driver misread a ‘halt!’ sign from an American sentry, who shot the conductor dead.

In September 1995, Claudio Abbado inaugurated a Berlin tradition of remembering the shot conductor.

An exhibition on his life opens tomorrow at the Philharmonie, marking 70 years since his death.


leo borchard



  • Robert Holmén says:

    “…doing his best to help fugitives by furnishing them with false papers.”

    How is a conductor manufacturing “false papers”?

  • Totally says:

    The exhibition is beautifully set out and worth to visit the Philharmonie for

  • Patrick says:

    This story makes me think of Hans Moldenauer’s book, The Death of Anton Webern.

  • Mike says:

    WHO, not that, got shot. It was the man who was shot, not the car….

    • thomas says:

      Yes , my father was a British Colonel in charge of Education , and he was driving the car ….but didn’t see a GI brandishing his weapon to order a stop . The GI shot at the passengers , killing Leo Borchard