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The Devil’s Music Master
The Controversial Life and Career of Wilhelm Furtwangler
by Sam H. Shirakawa
- Release date: July 1992
- Format: hardcover, 506 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Language: english
- Author: Sam H. Shirakawa
- ISBN: 9780195065084 (0195065085)
- Genres: music, history, biography
About The Book
From 1922 until his death in 1954, Wilhelm Furtwangler was the foremost cultural music figure of the German-speaking world, conductor of both the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. But a cloud still hangs over his reputation, despite his undeniable brilliance as a musician, because of a fatal and tragic decision. Wilhelm Furtwangler remained in Germany when thousands of intellectuals and artists fled after the Nazis seized power in 1933. His decision to stay behind earned him lasting condemnation as a Nazi collaborator — “The Devil’s Music Master.” Decades after his death, Furtwangler remains for many not only the greatest but also the most controversial musical personality of our time. In The Devil’s Music Master, Sam H. Shirakawa forges the first full-length and comprehensive biography of Furtwangler. He surveys Furtwangler’s formative years as a difficult but brilliant prodigy, his rise to pre-eminence as Germany’s leading conductor, and his development as a musician, composer, and thinker. Shirakawa also reviews the rich recorded legacy Furtwangler documented throughout his forty-year career — such as the legendary Tristan with Kirsten Flagstad and the famous performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in 1942 and 1951. Equally important, Shirakawa goes backstage and behind the lines to explore how the Nazis seized control of the arts and how Furtwangler single-handedly tried to prevent such evil characters as Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and Luftwaffe Chief Hermann Goring from annihilating Germany’s musical life. He shows how Furtwangler, far from being a toady to the Nazis, stood up openly against Hitler and Himmler — at enormous personal risk — to salvage the musicaltraditions of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Shirakawa also presents moving and overwhelming evidence of Furtwangler’s astonishing efforts to save the lives of Jews and other persecuted individuals trapped in Nazi Germany — only to be proscribed at the end of the war and nearly framed
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