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My relationship with Furtwängler

I was lucky that when I started listening to classical music at the age of 14, my mother had Furtwängler’s recording of Beethoven’s Ninth from Bayreuth 1951. Since the beginning, I was always interested in comparing interpretations. I was struck by how much strength and drama this recording had compared to all the others I heard. This prompted me to explore further this conductor, whose name I didn’t even know how to pronounce. When I heard the recording of the Beethoven Fifth from 1947, I was shocked. I didn’t know what to make of it. It went against what all the conducting dogma said. Still, the performance pulled me in and I felt I needed to understand why. It took me a few weeks, but when I finally got that interpretation internalized, I felt I was beginning to understand this incredible musician. I began looking for all the recordings of Furtwängler in New York at the time. A couple of years later, when at Columbia University, I joined the Classical Music station (WKCR-FM),and started doing a program devoted to his recordings. I have been fighting for him since then.

Eduardo Chibás

When many years later I started conducting, one thing I was curious about was to see if I could do something like what he did with Beethoven. Until the 1990’s, I had never heard a satisfactory recording of a Beethoven symphony in a live concert. Indeed, I found it very difficult, perhaps impossible, to reach the heights of depth and intensity that Furtwängler could achieve. Of course, I wasn’t trying to copy his interpretations since that would be betraying Furtwängler's ethos. But there is no denying that my view of Beethoven’s symphonies is very much influenced by the German master: they usually seem so right.

I was also interested in getting the best sounding versions on CD. The Ninth from 1942 was my Holy Grail. I bought more than 20 versions, to be disappointed time and again. Eventually, I realized that I could do better than those, especially since I had acquired some mastery of an editing program through editing my own recordings. I went to work on that Ninth obsessively for weeks, until I felt I had a version that was better, for my taste, than all the others. Then I went on from there to work on my favorite wartime recordings. is a result of that.


We encourage you to also browse through the rest of our collection, including recordings from the creator of this website and remasters Eduardo Chibás, the renowned pianist Artur Schnabel and other historical directors