Even today, the German conductor and composer Wilhelm Furtwängler fascinates and brings forth monumental listening experiences. How do we think about what happens in the music when Furtwängler conducts? Is it possible to develop hermeneutical-philosophical concepts about his being in the music? Can Furtwängler be one example of how we might develop a language to describe musical interpretations? How does the music in Furtwängler’s recordings convey reality? What is the philosophical background of his musical interpretations of Beethoven and Brahms?
The aesthetic experience of Furtwängler’s recordings has, in my view, to do with the relational logic in the music. Furtwängler allows the listener to partake as the music develops along what I call the expressive logic in the music. To examine this, I draw out the philosophical interferences of this concept as a backdrop for his performances in order to understand the depths of Furtwängler’s interpretations of Beethoven and Brahms.
His interpretations of Beethoven and Brahms are founded on a certain idea of what music is. Understanding Furtwängler’s interpretations as interpretations necessitates apprehending this idea. Ideas give a total view on how to understand a musical work. They regulate the musical development. Therefore, I understand ideas as the inner life of what happens in the music. I discuss central themes in his writings about music and use examples from his Beethoven and Brahms interpretations to illustrate my hermeneutic of Furtwängler’s art of musical interpretation.