Did Furtwängler ever conduct at the Met?

Did Furtwängler ever conduct at the Met?


norman lebrecht

September 26, 2022

The German conductor was widely admired in the US and was offered the conductorship of the New York Philharmonic in 1935.

But so far as we knew he never set foot in the Met.

Or did he?

Slippedusc reader Tom Graham has found this.

Does anyone know if this concert happened?


  • Callum Thomson says:

    The NY Phil has an excellent digital archive containing a concert programme for this concert:

  • Jonathon says:


    According to this site he conducted there three times, including on one of the dates mentioned in the picture….but the soloist listed is not Szigeti, though they played the Brahms concerto together only 2 weeks earlier in Brooklyn!

    14 MARCH, New York (Metropolitan Opera House)
    Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 4 (Wilhelm Backhaus) – Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6

    13 MARCH, New York (Metropolitan Opera House)
    Franck: Symphony in D minor – Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet – Berlioz: le Carnaval Romain

    3 APRIL, New York (Metropolitan Opera House)
    Brahms: ein deutsches Requiem (Louise Level, Fraser Gange)

    • Joel Kemelhor says:

      Fraser Gange was a Scots-born baritone who taught in Baltimore for years as a member of the Peabody faculty. His wife was the Welsh soprano Amy Evans.

  • Wurtfangler says:

    Although it gives the date as March 13th, according to http://patangel.free.fr/furt/conce_en.htm the concert programme was:

    Franck: Symphony in D minor – Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet – Berlioz: le Carnaval Romain

    It was with the NYPO, not the Met orchestra though.

  • andrew says:

    I have heard this referred to a potential hoax, but could be wrong

  • Joel Stein says:

    You can check the NYPhil archives which show he conducted the orchestra at the Met several times including 3/14/26. Reiner conducted on 4/4/26.

  • Brian Bell says:

    A database of all the concerts of the New York Philharmonic, as well as Damrosch’s New York Symphony is freely accessible at the New York Philharmonic’s website.
    A casual perusal shows that the concert program shown did indeed take place.
    In fact there were 59 different program listings, at quite a number of venues: In addition to Carnegie Hall, he conducted in Brooklyn, Reading PA, as well as the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh. I counted 3 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera House between 1926 and 1927, leading the New York Philharmonic.
    In addition to Szigeti, soloists also included Backhaus and Casals.

  • Tamino says:

    …and if he did, what did he do in the three weeks inbetween those two concerts?

    • Tom says:

      Conducted the same orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music. Likely he also attended the theatre, checked out the restaurant scene, kept a busy social schedule, studied scores, walked in Central Park, read fine literature and news, played the piano, perhaps composed.

  • lamed says:

    Per the NYT archives, he seems to have debuted with the Boston Symphony around Jan. 4, 1925 in a review by Olin Downes.

    There seems to be an appearance in NY, at least scheduled, in 1926.

    I don’t have a subscription to NYT archives, so have no access beyond the titles in the search results.

    Caveat: need to search under this spelling: “Furtwaengler”

  • Jon says:

    According to Tahra’s concert registry, Furtwängler conducted 3 concerts at the Metropolitan Opera House, all with the NYPO:

    14th March, 1926
    Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 4, with Wilhelm Backhaus
    Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6

    13th March, 1927
    Franck: Symphony in D minor
    Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet
    Berlioz: le Carnaval Romain

    3rd April, 1927
    Brahms: ein deutsches Requiem, with Louise Level and Fraser Gange


    Tahra do admit that their registry may contain mistakes and is not one hundred percent complete.

  • Stephen Tomchik says:

    The New York Philharmonic performance database confirms that the March 14 concert did occur. The program held Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto (Wilhelm Backhaus as soloist vice Szigeti) and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth. The April 4 concert was led by Fritz Reiner.

  • drummerman says:

    According the Philharmonic archive, he did conduct March 14, 1926 at the Met but the soloist is listed as Wilhelm Bachaus. According to the archive, Fritz Reiner conducted them at the Met on April 4, 1926.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    From a quick search of the Philharmonic archives, it appears that Furtwangler conducted several times at the Met Opera House.

    There is no mention of the concert with Zsigeti, except on February 28, 1926, but that was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Wilhelm Backhaus must have been substituted for Szigeti on the March 14th concert of your advertisement. The April 4th concert was at the opera house, but conducted by Fritz Reiner.

    The four conducted by Furtwangler at the Metropolitan Opera House:

    1926 Mar 14 (Subscription Season) NYP
    Conductor: Furtwangler [Furtwängler]
    Soloists: Backhaus, Wilhelm
    Beethoven / Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
    Tchaikovsky / Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, Pathétique
    Location: Metropolitan Opera House
    (39th street), Manhattan, NY

    1927 Mar 13 (Subscription Season) NYP
    Conductor: Furtwangler [Furtwängler]
    Franck / Symphony in D minor
    Tchaikovsky / Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy
    Location: Metropolitan Opera House (39th street), Manhattan, NY

    1927 Mar 15 (Subscription Season) SSO
    Conductor: Furtwangler [Furtwängler] / Busch / Damrosch
    Easton, Florence / Soprano /
    Schumann-Heink, Ernestine / Mezzo-Soprano
    Location: Metropolitan Opera House (39th street), Manhattan, NY

    1927 Apr 03 (Subscription Season) NYP
    Conductor: Furtwangler [Furtwängler]
    Brahms / Ein deutsches Requiem
    Location: Metropolitan Opera House (39th street), Manhattan, NY

  • Christopher Stager says:

    Someone just posted about this. And apparently this concert happened, but Backhaus played the Beethoven Fourth instead.

  • POA says:

    Furtwängler made three concert tours in America (in 1925, 1926 and 1927).

    March 14th, 1926 MET concert is listed in René Trémine’s “Furtwängler Concert Listing” published in 1997 by Tahra.
    (On the program according to that list : Beethoven 4th Cto with Backhaus and Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony).
    So, Furtwängler conduction at the MET House is no news.

    April 4th Concert does not appear in Trémine’s listing.

  • Byrwec Ellison says:

    According to the NY Phil’s digital archives (https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/search?search-type=singleFilter&search-text=furtwangler), the March 14 concert at the Met happened, but Szigeti’s name is crossed out in the program booklet (https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/65c7e1ca-3219-4808-947a-477eb55acae9-0.1/fullview#page/1/mode/2up), and Wilhelm Backaus is substituted performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.

    The concert was evidently part of an East Coast tour by Furtwangler and the NYP from March 4 to April 2, 1926 that took them to Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, Brooklyn Academy of Music and other venues in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington DC as well as the Metropolitan Opera House.

    He conducted at the Met three more times the following year:
    * a joint concert by NYPO and local school orchestras on March 13, 1927 (https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/75cb6f39-a756-4e0c-b9c7-660990f088c5-0.1/fullview#page/1/mode/2up)
    * a conducting collaborative concert on March 15, 1927 with Fritz Busch and Walter Damrosch (https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/9b89779b-3a1c-4170-911a-0a2fff6ce088-0.1/fullview#page/1/mode/2up)
    * a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem on April 3, 1927 (https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/81d1f926-3d4b-4d8e-95d7-3c1f7f5d5775-0.1/fullview#page/1/mode/2up)

  • Mock Mahler says:

    If conducting inside the Metropolitan Opera House is the same as conducting AT THE MET, then the roster of Met conductors will grow considerably.

  • Gerald says:

    See Sam Shirakawa’s The Devil’s Music Master, p. 82: “Furtwangler’s final performance in America was in the same hall where Toscanini had first taken leave of his American audiences twelve years before: the Metropolitan Opera House… On 3 April 1927 he [i.e. Furtlangler] made his last appearance in a performance of Brahm’s German Requiem with the New York Philharmonic…” Also, on p. 83, it states that the Met was one of several venues in NYC where he conducted.

  • Meal says:

    It seems to me that this is an advertisement in a newspaper. It would be interesting to see the whole page to the see the date of publication. It could be that the advertisement was placed well in advance of the concert and that it did not take place in this form. According to the New York Philharmonic database, at least on 14 March 1926 it was Klemperer who conducted, not Furtwängler: https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/aa873380-211c-47f1-b4cf-586f1cb52ea7-0.1

  • Gerard says:

    According to the website of the New York Phil it did, at least the March 14th concert. But Szigeti was not the announced soloist, he was replaced by Backhaus. The April 4th is not mentioned

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Szigeti’s autobiography “With Strings Attached” in a chapter dealing with his first seasons playing in America, mentions a “rather unusual appearance” — that being a repeat performance [during the same season] of the Beethoven Concerto with Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra — and then he goes on to mention “Incidentally, my first appearance with the New York Philharmonic during my second season (1926-27) resulted in another such reappearance during that same season; I played under Furtwangler at one of the spring concerts.”

    Szigeti does not mention that this spring concert was at the Metropolitan but I do believe that was a time when the NY Phil played at various venues in New York. An online blog reference to Furtwangler’s repertoire with the Philharmonic includes the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and also suggests that there was one appearance on stage at the Met by Furtwangler and the Philharmonic.


    Irrelevant but not without interest is the fact that Joseph Szigeti’s uncle played in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra for several years.

  • Kenny says:

    According to the online NYP archives, the 3/24/26 concert did happen (with Backhaus for Szigeti), and the 4/4 one did not.

  • Scott Messing says:

    Furtwaengler conducted the concert there on March 14 (Tchaikovsky, Pathétique), but Szigeti was indisposed and was replaced by Wilhelm Backhaus playing Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto. (NYT, March 15, 1926)

  • Lee Stamm says:

    The New York Philharmonic Society Digital Archive contains the program for this performance, conducted by Furtwängler. The Brahms Violin Concerto was replaced by Beethoven Piano Concerto 4, performed by Wilhelm Backhaus.

  • Ivan says:

    Furtwangler did conduct the NY Phil at the Met Opera house.
    However, Bachaus did the Beethoven 4th instead of Szigeti doing the Brahms concerto.
    Thanks NYPhil archives

  • jordan brown says:

    yes, it happened. Szigeti was indisposed and instead of his playing the Brahms concerto, Bachaus did Beethoven g major. Furtwängler conducted and the venue was the Met. source: NYTImes March 15 1926

  • TRhonun says:

    Fürtwangler appeared with the NYP in over 40 programs between 1925 and 1927, largely at Carnegie Hall, but with 3 performances at the old Met, and 5 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

    Of the concerts shown in this picture the first happened – albeit with a substitute soloist and concerto – and the second was conducted by Fritz Reiner.

    The NYPhil archives are a treasure trove for all of this information!

  • Nigel Simeone says:

    Yes it did but Szigeti was indisposed and Wilhelm Backhaus was the replacement soloist. Furtwängler appeared in four concerts at the Met in 1926 and 1927.

  • POA says:

    So, Furtwängler conducting at the MET Opera House is no news.

  • Richard Avsharian says:

    The first concert happened! Fürtwangler conducted Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto (Backhaus replaced Szigeti) and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique. The players were “on their mettle,” according to the Times, and the performance was “greeted with enthusiasm.”

    Fritz Reiner closed the season in April.

  • Mark Cogley says:

    The Philharmonic’s online archive tells us this did happen. Szigeti was replaced by Backhaus, who played Beethoven no. 4, which was followed by the Pathetiqe Symphony.

  • Willem Philips says:

    According to Wikipedia, Furtwangler appeared in 1925 once and twice in 1926 with the NYPO. So it appears so.

  • Scott says:

    According to the Met archive he never performed at the Met. There were different concerts on those dates.

  • Jon H says:

    That’s probably the NY Phil, performing at the (old) Metropolitan Opera House. Szigeti being a soloist, that’s a clue it was probably a concert.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    A March 29 letter-writer to the NY Times moans about a Furtwangler-conducted concert he attended but the program (Bruckner) is likely not the one seen in that image.


    FWIW, an NY Time article in Feb 1926 speaks of Furtwangler as being imminently expected to replace Toscanini at the NY Phil.


  • Pedroso says:

    I heard years ago that Furtwangler was expected to conduct in NY but the concert had to be cancelled because nobody came since all the tickets had been purchased by the Jewish community

  • Peter in Philadelphia says:

    Wilhelm Furtwängler guest-conducted the New York Philharmonic–and the pictured announcement is for concerts of the Philharmonic Society of New York–76 times (in 59 programs) during the 1924-25, 1925-26, and 1926-7 seasons. Four of the concerts took place in the “old” Metropolitan Opera House, so yes, Furtwängler did indeed “set foot in the Met.”

    The announcement does not correspond exactly to the performances, however. The March 14, 1926 concert was held, but Wilhelm Backhaus performed Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, substituting for the announced “Assisting Artist” Joseph Szigeti, who was to have performed the Brahms Violin Concerto. And Furtwängler did not conduct the April 4, 1926 concert. Fritz Reiner did. All of this information–as well as the printed concert programs–is available in the New York Philharmonic’s digital archive at https://archives.nyphil.org/performancehistory/#program (search for Furtwangler under the “By Artist” tab).

    Furtwängler ‘s New York concerts were received to great public though not universal critical acclaim, and included, on January 22, 1925, the first New York Philharmonic performance of The Rite of Spring. Robert Craft relates the following concerning that performance (Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents (1978), p. 658 fn. 54): “Le Sacre was to have been given in Stravinsky’s original programs with the New York Philharmonic in January 1925, but, after part of a rehearsal, he withdrew the piece for lack of time. Clarence Mackay wrote to him, asking him to reconsider and offering an extra rehearsal, but Stravinsky answered that this would not be sufficient. Rumors circulated to the effect that Stravinsky’s conducting technique had not been adequate for the difficulties of Le Sacre–which Wilhelm Furtwängler presented with the orchestra later in the month.”

    There was discussion of Furtwängler becoming the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, but this did not come to pass, reportedly in part due to his impatience with the social demands of the Philharmonic’s board, something he hadn’t encountered, at least to the same degree, in Europe. In 1936, Toscanini famously stated that Furtwängler was the only conductor worthy of succeeding him, and he was in fact offered the post, but the Nazi regime, as well as American reaction to German military expansion in Europe, made consideration of the New York offer by Germany’s most famous conductor impossible.

  • mary says:

    Was he conducting “at the Met” though? or just “at” the Met facilities in the normal course of a NY Philharmonic season?

  • NYPhilfan says:

    https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/65c7e1ca-3219-4808-947a-477eb55acae9-0.1/fullview#page/1/mode/2up 14. March happened, but Backhaus stepped in for Szigeti. Fritz Reiner stepped in for Furtwängler on 4 April.

  • Remko says:

    The Performance History of the New York Philharmonic lists two concerts, with different soloists than the ad, but both at the Metropolitan Opera House (Brahms with Louise Lerch, and Beethoven with Backhaus, Szigeti’s name is crossed out in the program!


  • MuddyBoots says:

    According to the NY Times it did. Review on March 19, 1926 is in the archive, but there is no way to post an image here. One fun fact: Music reviews seem to be in the Sports section in that era.

  • John says:

    The NY Phil digital archives list the March 14 concert, but with Backhaus as soloist, rather than Szigeti. Program was Beethoven Fourth Concerto and Tchaikovsky Pathetique. The April 4 program at the Old Met looks to have been conducted by Fritz Reiner.

  • Thomas M. says:

    It’s never a good sign if one mistypes the name of one’s own homepage: “Slippedusc”. 😉