as a reputed conjuror of irretrievably bygone times

Garfieldgo

Member
Chinese - Taiwan
Hello everyone

I have read an article from a booklet, it is about a performance by a famous conductor W. Furtwangler (1886-1954).
There is a sentence "A legend, even during his lifetime, as a reputed conjuror of irretrievably bygone times"
From my perspective, it means "He is a legend who can wake up the atmosphere of bygone times just like a magician."
I'm not sure if I'm right, so I ask my friend's opinion and he told me that I'm wrong.
It's meaning should be "Even he can't not bring out atmosphere of bygone times, he is still a legend".
His reasons:
1. "irretrievably" is negative
2. "even" usually follow by a sentence that opposite to before.

I'm really confused about it.

Thanks for any help.
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree with you and ewie. :)

    "Even"
    in this case introduces an unusual or unexpected idea. The underlying thought is that many people become legends after they die, when people start repeating stories about amazing things they did. Furtwangler is unusual because even while he was alive, people were as amazed and impressed by him as we are now.
     

    yarique

    Member
    Ukrainian
    Yeah, well done Garfieldgo! I'm sure not all native speakers can decipher that sentence. :) "Even" is just an intensifier here. "A legend, even during his lifetime," pretty much implies, "Hey, it's amazing how this guy had managed to become a legend well before he died. People mostly prefer dead legends." :) Likewise, "irretrievably" doesn't negate the whole idea; it just intensifies the point that Herr Furtwangler was sort of magician in that he could conjure the ways and feelings of time long past while everyone else believed they were lost forever.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Furtwängler died on 30 November. His death and Toscanini’s demise three years later marked the end of an artistic era within the conductors’ gild, and also for Lucerne. A legend, even during his lifetime, as a reputed conjuror of irretrievably bygone times,
    My understanding is a bit different:
    I think "irretrievably bygone times" refers to an artistic era within the conductors’ gild. Three years after Furtwängler's death the era finished and so became "irretrievably bygone".
    What do you think?
     

    Garfieldgo

    Member
    Chinese - Taiwan
    My understanding is a bit different:
    I think "irretrievably bygone times" refers to an artistic era within the conductors’ gild. Three years after Furtwängler's death the era finished and so became "irretrievably bygone".
    What do you think?
    Thanks for getting back to me.

    Dear VikNikSor:
    Thank you for pointing out another possibility, I've read the context again and again.
    The whole paragraph is

    His death and Toscanini’s demise three years later marked the end of an artistic era within the conductors’ gild, and also for Lucerne. A legend, even during his lifetime, as a reputed conjuror of irretrievably bygone times, and as an anti-perfectionist
    who was aware of the effect of his personality and his musical persuasiveness, used to “ecstatic glances from musicians and audience”


    I think "A legend..." is a new sentence.
    My interpretation about "irretrievably bygone times" is "he is almost like a magician who can recall the atmosphere of times which belong to Mozart or Beethoven".
    Maybe "reputed" is the key point. Who regard Furtwangler as a "conjuror of irretrievably bygone time", if it is contemporaries of Furtwangler, I would say maybe I'm right. But if the author's viewpoint is present day, I think you're probably right.

    Thank you again for your kind assistance.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, "A legend" is a new sentence, but it may well refer to the previous ones. Several sentences ago, there is one:
    One last time, the concertgoers experienced the unique, mysterious atmosphere which Furtwängler concerts, incomparably, created and of which contemporary witnesses rave to the present day
    ... which also can support my version. But I'm only guessing:)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I think "irretrievably bygone times" refers to an artistic era within the conductors’ gild. Three years after Furtwängler's death the era finished and so became "irretrievably bygone".
    If so, Furtwängler would have to wait until three years after his own death before he could start evoking that era.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'Evoke' means the same here as 'conjure'. Allow me to re-express what I said:
    I think "irretrievably bygone times" refers to an artistic era within the conductors’ gild. Three years after Furtwängler's death the era finished and so became "irretrievably bygone".
    If so, Furtwängler would have to wait until three years after his own death before he could start evoking that era.
    My comment means:
    If your idea were true (if the era in question finished three years after his death), it would mean that Furtwängler could only start evoking it then.

    That is obviously impossible. After death, no one can evoke, or conjure up, an era - or do anything else.

    Conclusion: the era in question is not 'an artistic era within the conductors' guild', but the era of the composers whose music Furtwängler used to interpret so evocatively.

    The phrase
    a reputed conjuror of irretrievably bygone times
    means:
    'someone who has the reputation of being able to conjure up (that is, evoke) past times which are so remote that we cannot come near to recreating them'.

    Admittedly that is an unsatisfactory expression, as it contradicts itself.
     
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