What you're about to read is a collection of pointers to some of the music I've discovered on the iTunes Music Store, music I like enough that I want to share it. If you're an iPod owner and an iTunes fan (and if you aren't, what are you doing here?), maybe you'll find something new. Click on any of the CD covers to bounce over to the store and sample a few tracks. And then maybe stop by my other blog for a few well chosen words (and maybe a random snark or two).RSS feed
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Wed, 13 Apr 2005

The Fascination of Furtwängler / Wilhelm Furtwängler
How can we separate art from politics? Should we? Do we shun the Dixie Chicks when they disparage the president? (I don't. Then again, I agree with them.) Do we refuse to play Wagner because he was a virulent anti-semite? Or is it just because his music sucks?

Not an easy question. I raise it because of this new collection of classic works conducted by the Wilhelm Furtwängler, a man I discovered largely for the chance to make fun of his name but who raises more interesting questions than "why didn't his father change it to something less appalling?"

Furtwängler, you see, was the director of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Nazi era. By staying in Germany and holding on to his high profile position, he became a symbol of the horrors of his time. There are claims that he stood up to the authorities, that he did what he could for Jewish musicians. Perhaps he did; perhaps he was insufficiently heroic. Perhaps he was more; that's a question we can never answer for certain. But knowing a little of the story colors the music, lends it a sadness and a hollowness beyond the notes themselves.

The Fascination of Furtwänger
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Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California