Wilhelm composed his first music at the age of seven. The idea of becoming a composer was his prime ambition, despite the failure of his early attempts at composition. Several factors led to Furtwängler taking up the baton: the wish to conduct his own works; his increasing interest in the art of interpretation and the need to make a living, following the death of his father in 1907. His first concert as conductor was in Munich in 1906 with a program of works by Bruckner and Beethoven as well as one of his own pieces. His rise to fame as a conductor was quite rapid. In 1920 he succeeded Richard Strauss as conductor of the Berlin Staatsoper concerts and in 1922, after the death of Nikisch, he took over the conductorship of the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. It was at this time that he also began a long and successful relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. But it was with the Berlin Philharmonic that Furtwängler was to remain for the rest of his career.
Throughout the 1920s and ‘30s Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic went on a series of European tours to Scandinavia, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary and England. In 1937 Furtwängler conducted at Covent Garden as part of the Coronation celebrations and, in 1938, he was back again to conduct two cycles of the Ring. From the Label