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Wilhelm Furtwängler himself would have gladly have exchanged his fame as a conductor for international recognition as a composer. Nevertheless, performances of his works have remained rarities in our concert life. A few days before the performance of his 2nd Symphony by Eugen Jochum and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Furtwängler unexpectedly died, turning the concerts in December of 1954 into a memorial service for the great musician.
Furtwängler’s compositions stand in the tradition of Bruckner, Wagner and Reger. His 2nd Symphony, composed in 1944 and 1945 in Switzerland, bursts the dimensions of most Bruckner symphonies and takes the musical material of the late romantic era in gigantic architectures almost to its breaking point.
Eugen Jochum had founded the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in 1949 and would continue to preside over it as Chief Conductor until 1960. As early as this first phase of its existence, the orchestra welcomed such significant guest conductors as Igor Markevitch, Ernest Ansermet and Clemens Krauss to its podium.
An early recording with Eugen Jochum, who regarded Furtwängler all his life as a role model.