Composers and their stage works 


Taking Sides

Play. Ronald Harwood

M4 (24, 35-50s, 60) F2 (20s, 32). An office.

Wilhelm Furtwangler (1886-1954) was one of the great conductors of this century. It was his misfortune to have been at the height of his career when the National Socialists came to power. While many of his fellow artists were either forced to leave Germany or emigrated as an act of protest, Furtwangler remained. After the war he was accused of having served the Nazi regime. Period 1946

The Story

The American portion of the De-Nazification Tribunal has convened to take over the questioning of Wilhelm Furtwangler, one of the outstanding conductors of his time. Furtwangler was at the height of his career in 1933, eclipsing all other conductors, just as Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. As the terrors of Nazism spread, many of Furtwangler's colleagues fled the country, whether out of protest or persecution, but Furtwangler mysteriously chose to stay. Did he stay to do as much good as possible in the face of evil, as so many believe, or, did he stay to serve Hitler, of which he was later accused? The Tribunal's evidence has been prepared firstly by the British, and then taken over by two groups of Americans: one in Wiesbaden which assisted in Furtwangler's defence, the other in Berlin which helped build the case against him. Little is known of the motives and methods of this group which is the focus of Taking Sides. What is known is that Furtwangler was humiliated, pursued and, that even after his acquittal, disinformation followed him. This may or may not have been justified - it depends on which side you take.