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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Furtwangler, Wilhelm

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Wilhelm Furtwangler (1886 - 1954)


Furtwängler was born into a cultured middle-class German family: his father was an archaeologist and his mother an artist. As soon as it became clear that young Wilhelm was exceptionally gifted, he was taken out of school and educated at home by private tutors, including the archaeologist Curtius, the sculptor Hildebrand, and the musicologist and art historian Riezler. Music was his dominant interest: he soon learnt to play the piano and was composing when he was seven years old. His composition tutors included Rheinberger and von Schillings, and he studied piano with Ansorge. The boy was fascinated by Beethoven and is reputed to have memorised most of his works by the time he was twelve years old. By his late teens he had composed several substantial works including a symphony, a string sextet, and several string quartets. He made his conducting debut in 1906 in Munich (where in 1894 his father had been appointed professor of archaeology): the programme included a symphonic movement by himself and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9.

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