The next meeting of the Salisbury Recorded Music Society will be held on Monday 18th February 2019 at 7.30pm in our usual venue, when we shall be very pleased to welcome Angus Menzies who will present:
Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) : seventeenth century court musician or international spy?
This Italian born musician worked as diplomat and composer at several courts across Europe at the interface of various dynasties and musical styles.
The second half of the season gets underway on Monday 4th February at 7:30 as usual with a presentation on organ music. We have not had such a presentation in recent years (if at all) and yet there is a large corpus of music written for this ‘king of instruments’. The music will included works in the 17th century and some written in modern times. At least one recording was made with the Cathedral’s organ.
These are notes to help presenters prepare a presentation to the Society
The Society meets every other Monday during its two seasons: one starts in October typically and the second part starts in February. The sessions start at 7:30 and finish at 9:30. There is a 15 minute break in the middle.
It is possible to bring a stick or a lap top to enable visual presentation of material to take place.
You have 1 hr 45 mins for your presentation. It is wise to allow 5 minutes for lost time so that effectively means you have 1hr:40 to play with.
So a typical presentation will start with an introduction which could be as much as 10 minutes. There is likely to be some explanation between discs about the next piece and these can be around 2 minutes each or as much as 5 minutes.
So you just need to add up the music lengths, add the talk time including your introduction, and this should add to 1hr:40 or 100 minutes. If you would like questions, then it comes down to 90 mins.
If you can type up a playlist that would be appreciated. About 10 copies is about right but more would be welcome.
Details on how to find us are on one of the tabs at the top of the site. There is ample parking at the rear. The room is on the ground floor and is accessible to people with mobility difficulties. There is a toilet for those with mobility difficulties.
The work of the controversial conductor, Wilhelm Furtwängler
Younger readers will be less familiar with this conductor who died in 1954. Part of the problem is that he was not keen on studio recordings so those recordings that survive are concert performances. The other problems are his involvement with the Nazi regime and that he was admired by Hitler.
The Society was delighted to welcome Dr Roger Allen who has written a book on this controversial conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler: Art and the Politics of the Unpolitical (Boydell Press 2018). Roger is a fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford. The conductor left a legacy of recordings made during the turbulent period of the early part of the 20th century culminating in the Third Reich.
The first piece was the third movement of JS Bach’s Bradenburg Concerto No. 3 made in 1930. It had an unusually large number of players, compared that is with today’s pared down recordings made with period instruments. Yet the sound was not ‘mushy’ and the parts could be heard distinctly despite it being a mono recording.
Roger then went on to discuss the different approaches between Toscanini
and Furtwangler illustrated with the first movement of the Eroica Symphony. Toscanini came to Berlin in 1930 and his arrival was not welcomed by the German. Beethoven was seen as ‘home territory’ and Toscanini was criticised for not recognising the ‘organic growth’ of the work – a theory propounded by Heinrich Schenker. I am not sure any of us fully grasped the full import of Schenker’s theory as it applied here, but we were able to distinguish the different approach between the two conductors. As Roger explained it, Toscanini played what was in the score – seen as being rather un-German – whereas there was a distinct sense of being ‘ushered in’ to the symphony by Furtwangler.
At Bayreuth he performed a production of Lohengrin in the presence of Hitler a keen Wagner fan. During the war he became a kind of figurehead for the Nazi regime which led to problems when the war ended. He was part of the denazification programme after the war and did not perform for two years.
Other pieces Roger played included part of Bruckner’s 8th and the whole of Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings. Anton Bruckner was also popular with Hitler and he had a bust made and exhibited in Walhalla. Again, Bruckner was much admired by the Third Reich as being an example of ‘blood and soil’ as well as being an Austrian.
Furtwängler poses difficult questions for listeners, similar to those with Wagner, an avid anti-Semite. His close association with, and support for, the Nazis makes uncomfortable listening. Many artists had to flee Germany and the occupied lands because of persecution so it was not some kind of passive thing.
The presentation was extremely interesting going beyond the normal music centred evenings we usually enjoy. In two hours there was not time to explore all aspects and unfortunately we were unable to get the screen to link to his laptop. Nevertheless, the considerable contribution Furtwangler made to the musical world was well explained. His legacy of recordings is revered by many. Peter Horwood, the chair of SRMS, said it had been a ‘fantastic evening’.
This was the last evening before the Christmas break and we shall be back for the second half of the season on 4 February 2019. We wish all our supporters and members a happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you again in the new year.
The next meeting of the Salisbury Recorded Music Society will be held on Monday 26th November 2018 at 7.30pm in our usual venue, when we will be very pleased to welcome Dr Roger Allen, Fellow and Tutor in Music at Oxford University who will talk on the work of Wilhelm Furtwängler.
In May 2018 Dr Allen published his book on Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) who has entered the historical memory as a renowned interpreter of the canon of Austro-German musical masterworks and was for many years principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwangler also left a substantial legacy of recordings which even today are regarded by many as unique and inspirational.
I hope you will be able to come on Monday, the last before our Christmas break, will be well supported.
The next meeting of the Society is on Monday 29 October at 7:30 as usual and will be a presentation by Ian Lace on Debussy and Ravel – two great French composers. We look forward to seeing you there. It is GDP3 for non-members. Parking is outside the door and is free. Appropriate venue for people with mobility difficulties.