Siegfried Borries

8.99 €

Siegfried Borries, the legendary concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and Prussian State Orchestra is presented by meloclassic in German World War II radio recordings. He was the most known and popular German violinist in the 1930s and 1940s after Georg Kulenkampff. None of these rare radio performances have been published before and aims to bring his artistry back into the present.

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Siegfried Borries plays Dvorák, Beethoven and Schubert – Wartime German Radio Recordings

“Legendary Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic under Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan”

1-4. DVORÁK: Sonatina in G Major, Op.100 [19:38]
5-7. DVORÁK: Three Romantic Pieces, Op. 75 (arr. Paul Kletzki) [06:23]

Recorded · 04 February 1943 · Berlin · Masurenallee · Haus des Rundfunks · Saal 3 · Reichssender Berlin · Radio Studio Recording

8-11. BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonata No.5 in F Major, Op.24 [21:53]
Recorded · 13 April 1944 · Berlin · Masurenallee · Haus des Rundfunks · Saal 3 · Reichssender Berlin · Radio Studio Recording

12-15. SCHUBERT: Violin Sonata in A Major, D.574 [18:26]
Recorded · 20 May 1944 · Berlin · Masurenallee · Haus des Rundfunks · Saal 3 · Reichssender Berlin · Radio Studio Recording

Siegfried Borries · violin
Michael Raucheisen · piano

Additional Information

Article number: MC 2010
Release date: 02 May 2014
UPC barcode:0791154050323
Total time: 66:23

Producer and Audio Restoration: Lynn Ludwig
Booklet Notes: Michael Waiblinger
Design: Alessia Issara
Photographs: Valentin Kubina
With special thanks to Christof Honecker
From the Original Masters · © 2014 Meloclassic

Siegfried Borries was born on March 10, 1912 in Münster, Germany. He began to study violin at the age of five with Werner Göhre and was accepted in 1929 to attend the master-class of Bram Eldering (1865–1943) at the Cologne Conservatory. The Dutch Eldering had studied with Hubay in Brussels and had followed him to Budapest, where he played as violist in the Hubay-Popper Quartet. Eldering went in 1888 to Berlin to improve his skills under the guidance of Joseph Joachim. Between 1891 and 1894 he was concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1899 he taught at the Amsterdam Conservatory and from 1903 until his death at the Cologne Conservatory; among his students notably included Adolf Busch, Max Strub, and Wilhelm Stross. Eldering died during an air raid in Cologne on June 17, 1943.


At the first International competition for voice and violin in Vienna in 1932, Borries was the only German among 300 applicants and received the “Great International Prize” and a few months later, in October 1932, he also won the Berlin State Academy of Music’s Mendelssohn Prize. Borries soon became the most known and popular German violinist in the 1930s after Georg Kulenkampff.

At age 20 years in 1933 he was appointed by Wilhelm Furtwängler as concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, a time when Szymon Goldberg had to be replaced. In May 1936, he was awarded the first Music Prize of the German capital Berlin, and in 1936 he joined the faculty of the Municipal Conservatory.
At the Reich’s Düsseldorf music congress on 21 May 1939, Borries was awarded the 1939 National Music Prize for being the best German violinist of the younger generation of soloists, together with another beneficiary, Rosl Schmid, a German pianist whom we have released on Meloclassic MC 1013.


In 1941, Karajan convinced Borries to join the Preussische Staatskapelle Berlin as its concertmaster, a position he held until the end of WW II. His last solo performances with them came in 1945 in Berlin, chamber musician he played from 1933 to 1945 with Philharmonic colleagues Heinrich Breiden, flute and Hans Ahlgrimm, 2nd violin to form the Borries-Breiden-Ahlgrimm Trio.

Towards the end of World War II, Borries had flown to Finland with Albert Speer on a four-motored Focke-Wulf Condor, which had unusually long range due to its built-in reserve tanks. After Speer and other top officials from the war ministry had inspected the fortifications on the front line between the German troops and their Finnish allies with the Russian enemy, they erected a campfire “In a clearing in the heart of the primeval forest, some distance from Lake Inari, where Lapp and German woodcutters had gathered around an artfully built wood fire, a source of both warmth and illumination, one where Siegfried Borries began their evening by playing Bach’s famous Chaconne.”


After the War ended in 1945, he held master classes for violin at the newly founded International Music Institute of Berlin. Borries also renewed his position as concertmaster with the Berlin Philharmonic and headed its chamber music ensemble. From 1948 he taught violin (since 1949 as a professor) at Berlin’s Hochschule für Musik and developed an active concert career as a soloist and chamber musician in the following years, both at home and abroad.

In the fall of 1951, the Department of Public Education, under the guidance of the Senator for Education Joachim Tiburtius suspended Borries from his position at the Hochschule für Musik, for having performed with the Dresden Philharmonic under the baton of Heinz Bongartz on its recent West Germany tour. The justification for his suspension was explained as a result of Bongartz’s active support of East German (DDR) communism and Borries’s unexcused absence from rehearsals with the Berlin Philharmonic.

In November 1951, Borries was permitted to resume his post at the Hochschule für Musik, but only after the Berlin senate adopted restrictions that curtailed its employees’ right to collaborate with East German citizens. A 1957 dispute regarding his fee and refusal to participate in the 75th Birthday concert of the Berlin Philharmonic as concertmaster (his successor was Michel Schwalbé), resulted in his suspension and permanent leave until 1961 when his resignation finally came into effect.

Borries died on 12 August 1980 in Berlin.

Borries was the author of a book: Vergleichende Interpretationskunde: sieben Beiträge.
One recording released by the U.S. MACE label (LP SM9015) finds Borries’s name misspelled on the cover as Barries.

© Michael Waiblinger 2014

Audiophile Audition Classical Review December 2014

Published on December 5, 2014

Selected recitals from wartime studios highlight Siegfried Borries, concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and Prussian State Orchestra.

If the reputation of former Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster Siegfried Borries (1912-1980) endures, his recorded legacy remains mostly responsible, especially his collaboration with Sergiu Celibidache in the Busoni Violin Concerto they inscribed for RIAS. MeloClassic restores excerpts from two of Borries’ recitals, 1943-1944, with Michael Raucheisen, when Borries’ popularity rivaled that of his older colleague Georg Kulenkampff.

Borries opens (4 February 1943) with the 1893 Dvorak Sonatina in G, especially written by the composer for his own gifted children, Ottilie and Tonik. The natural melodic flow of the Allegro risoluto contains elements common to Dvorak’s “American” pieces,pentatonic themes and bustling, syncopated dance rhythms. The playing of the famous G Minor Larghetto (“Indian Lullaby,” as popularized by Fritz Kreisler) displays Borries and a responsive Raucheisen at their best. Borries’ tone remains nasal and piercingly thin, reminiscent of that of Joseph Szigeti, but tonally accurate. The Minnehaha (“Laughing Water”) idea pervades the G Major Molto vivace third movement. The folk impulse dominates the final Allegro, sounding as it does like martial Scott Joplin occasionally. More ingratiating, sonically, the Romantic Pieces of 1887 provide a truly lyric vehicle for Borries, especially the first, Allegro moderato. The direct, fiery approach to the Allegro maestoso well reminds me of my stellar version, Uto Ughi’s later performance on Italian RCA. Borries concludes impressively with the third of the Op. 75 set, the romanticAllegro appassionato, omitting the Elegy.

The Beethoven “Spring” Sonata of 1801 (13 April 1944) reveals a composer on the verge of a stylistic shift, genteel and galant on the one hand, vigorously transparent and muscularly optimistic on the other. We must admire Ruacheisen’s suave realization of the piano filigree as he leads or shades Borries’ contribution. If the plastic themes and rhythms lack a degree of humor in this rendition, they do enjoy a warm intimacy. The lovely Adagio molto espessivo manages to convince us that Beethoven could be mistaken for Schubert, so secure and serene the playing. The aggressively elfin Scherzo leads us to the carefully articulated Rondo, which may strike some auditors as too staid despite its resonant, ardent reading.

The Schubert 1817 “Duo Sonata” in A Major (20 May 1944) concludes this disc, a lyrical work whose first movement Allegro moderato exploits irregular phrase lengths while creating dovetailed themes of the serpentine length we will later attribute to Bruckner. A fine balance of instrumental timbres and dynamics marks this performance, certainly competitive with my old stand-by interpretation from Joseph Szigeti and Myra Hess. Thestaccato syncopations of the raspy Scherzo contrast elegantly with the legato triosection. A tender lied of elevated, Viennese charm, the Andantino evolves two themes which vary and expand with each repetition, many featuring Borries’ gentle trill. The zesty Allegro vivace in 3/8 enjoys a rustic canter and gracious interplay that ensures we audition this performance a second time.

© Gary Lemco

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