Elisabeth Furtwängler died yesterday in Clarens, Switzerland, aged 102. Her husband, Wilhelm Furtwängler died in 1954. Many consider him the most interesting conductor that ever lived.
Elisabeth, his second wife, met him in Nazi Germany when she was pregnant with her fourth child. Her husband had died in France in 1943. She married Furtwängler in 1943. She was 33, he 57. She outlived him by almost 60 years.
Elisabeth is survived by an extensive family, among whom her granddaughter, Maria Furtwängler, is a prominent physician and television actress who stars as the Hanover-based police detective Charlotte Lindholm in the Tatort series.
I met Elisabeth once about 20 years ago at a Vienna symposium on the works of Gottfried von Einem. She was a strong presence in the room, but altogether benign, imposing a state of peace and calm on all around her. I cannot remember what words we exchanged. All that remains is the memory of that tranquility.
Salzburg Festival, 1948 (l-r) Karl Böhm-Furtwängler-Thea-Böhm-Elisabeth Furtwängler (photo www.furtwangler.net)
Here’s an extended interview (in German) that Elisabeth gave at her home in 2004.