Berlin Philharmonic

Berlin Philharmonic
Berliner Philharmoniker
Also known as Berlin Philharmonic
Origin Berlin, Germany
Genres Classical
Occupations Symphony orchestra
Years active since 1887
Principal Conductor
Simon Rattle
Murray Perahia[1]
Past members
Ludwig von Brenner
Notable instruments
Concert Organ
Karl Schuke, Berlin IV72

The Berlin Philharmonic, German: Berliner Philharmoniker, formerly Berliner Philharmonisches Orchester (BPO), is an orchestra based in Berlin, Germany. In 2006, a group of ten European media outlets voted the Berlin Philharmonic number three on a list of "top ten European Orchestras", after the Vienna Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,[2] while in 2008 it was voted the world's number two orchestra in a survey among leading international music critics organized by the British magazine Gramophone (behind the Concertgebouw).[3] Its primary concert venue is the Philharmonie, located in the Kulturforum area of the city. Since 2002, its principal conductor is Sir Simon Rattle. The BPO also supports several chamber music ensembles. The funding for the organization is subsidized by the city of Berlin and a partnership with Deutsche Bank.



Entrance to the concert hall.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in Berlin in 1882 by 54 musicians under the name Frühere Bilsesche Kapelle (literally, "Former Bilse's Band"); the group broke away from their previous conductor Benjamin Bilse after he announced his intention of taking the band on a fourth-class train to Warsaw for a concert. The orchestra was renamed and reorganized under the financial management of Hermann Wolff in 1887. Their new conductor was Ludwig von Brenner; in 1887 Hans von Bülow, one of the most esteemed conductors in the world, took over the post. This helped to establish the orchestra's international reputation, and guests Hans Richter, Felix von Weingartner, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Johannes Brahms and Edvard Grieg conducted the orchestra over the next few years. Programmes of this period show that the orchestra possessed only 46 strings, much less than the Wagnerian ideal of 64.

In 1895, Arthur Nikisch became chief conductor, and was succeeded in 1923 by Wilhelm Furtwängler. Despite several changes in leadership, the orchestra continued to perform throughout World War II. After Furtwängler fled to Switzerland in 1945, Leo Borchard became chief conductor. This arrangement lasted only a few months, as Borchard was accidentally shot and killed by the American forces occupying Berlin. Sergiu Celibidache then took over as chief conductor for seven years, from 1945 to 1952. Furtwängler returned in 1952 and conducted the orchestra until his death in 1954.

His successor was Herbert von Karajan, who led the orchestra from 1955 until his resignation in April 1989, only months before his death. Under him, the orchestra made a vast number of recordings and toured widely, growing and gaining fame. When Karajan stepped down, the post was offered to Carlos Kleiber, but he declined.

Claudio Abbado became principal conductor after Karajan, expanding the orchestra's repertoire beyond the core classical and romantic works into more modern 20th-century works. He stepped down from this post in 2002 to conduct the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. During the post-unification period, the orchestra encountered financial problems resulting from budgetary stress in the city of Berlin.[4] In 2006, the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic established the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize in Abbado's honour.[5]

Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2006

In June 1999, the musicians elected Sir Simon Rattle as their next chief conductor.[6] Rattle made it a condition of his signing with the Berlin Philharmonic that it be turned into a self-governing public foundation, with the power to make its own artistic and financial decisions. This required a change to state law, which was approved in 2001, allowing him to join the organization in 2002. Rattle's contract with the orchestra was initially through 2012. In April 2008, the BPO musicians voted in favour of retaining Rattle as their chief conductor.[7] From 2006 to 2010 the general manager of the orchestra was Pamela Rosenberg. In April 2008, the orchestra announced that Rosenberg would not continue as general manager after her contract expires in 2010.[8] As of September 2010 the new general manager will be German media manager Martin Hoffmann.[9]

In 2006, the orchestra announced it would investigate its role during the Nazi regime.[10] In 2007, Misha Aster published The Reich's Orchestra, his study of the relationship of the Berlin Philharmonic to the rulers of the Third Reich.[11] Also in 2007, the documentary film The Reichsorchester by Enrique Sánchez Lansch was released.[12]

The first concert hall of the orchestra was destroyed in 1944. Since 1963, the orchestra has been resident at the Philharmonie, which was constructed from 1960 until 1963, following the design of architect Hans Scharoun. On 20 May 2008, a fire broke out at the Philharmonie. One-quarter of the roof underwent considerable damage as firefighters cut openings to reach the flames beneath the roof.[13][14] The hall interior also sustained water damage, but was otherwise "generally unharmed." The firefighters limited damage by the use of foam. The orchestra was restricted from use of the hall for concerts until June 2008.[15]

UNICEF appointed the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle as Goodwill Ambassadors in November 2007.[16]

On 18 December 2008 the Orchestra announced the creation of a Digital Concert Hall. The new Internet platform will enable music fans all over the world to see and hear the Philharmonic's concerts – live or on demand.[17]

Principal conductors

Awards and recognition

Classical BRIT Awards
  • 2001 – "Ensemble/Orchestral Album of the Year" – Sir Simon Rattle, Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (EMI, 2000)
  • 2003 – "Ensemble/Orchestral Album of the Year" – Sir Simon Rattle, Mahler: Symphony No. 5 (EMI, 2002)
Grammy Awards
Gramophone Awards
  • 1981 – "Opera Recording of the Year" – Herbert von Karajan, Wagner: Parsifal (DGG, 1980)
  • 1981 – "Orchestral Record of the Year" – Herbert von Karajan, Mahler: Symphony No. 9 (DGG, 1980)
  • 1984 – "Record of the Year" – Herbert von Karajan, Mahler: Symphony No. 9 (DGG, 1984; live recording 1982)
  • 2000 – "Orchestral Record of the Year" – Sir Simon Rattle, Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (EMI, 2000)
  • 2004 – "Concerto" – Mariss Jansons, Leif Ove Andsnes, Grieg: Piano Concerto and Schumann: Piano Concerto (EMI, 2004)
  • 2006 – "Record of the Year" – Claudio Abbado, Mahler: Symphony No. 6 (DGG, 2005)
ECHO (formerly Deutscher Schallplattenpreis) of Deutsche Phono-Akademie
Timbre de Platine (Platinum Stamp) awarded by Opéra International magazine [1][dead link]
  • 1987 – Riccardo Muti, Mozart: Requiem (EMI, 1987)

Current members

The members of the orchestra as of September 2009 are:[18]

First violins
  • Guy Braunstein (1st Concertmaster)*
  • Daniel Stabrawa (1st Concertmaster)*
  • Daishin Kashimoto (1st Concertmaster)
  • Tōru Yasunaga (1st Concertmaster, retired)
  • Rainer Sonne (Concertmaster)
  • Zoltán Almási
  • Maja Avramović
  • Simon Bernardini
  • Wolfram Brandl
  • Peter Brem
  • Armin Brunner
  • Andreas Buschatz
  • Alessandro Cappone
  • Madeleine Carruzzo
  • Aline Champion
  • Felicitas Clamor-Hoffmeister
  • Laurentius Dinca
  • Sebastian Heesch
  • Aleksandar Ivić
  • Rüdiger Liebermann
  • Kotowa Machida
  • Helmut Mebert
  • Bastian Schäfer
Second violins
  • Christian Stadelmann (leader of the 2nd Violins)*
  • Thomas Timm (leader of the 2nd Violins)*
  • Daniel Bell
  • Holm Birkholz
  • Stanley Dodds
  • Cornelia Gartemann
  • Amadeus Heutling
  • Christophe Horak
  • Rainer Mehne
  • Christoph von der Nahmer
  • Raimar Orlovsky
  • Bettina Sartorius
  • Rachel Schmidt
  • Armin Schubert
  • Stephan Schulze
  • Christoph Streuli
  • Eva-Maria Tomasi
  • Romano Tommasini
  • Neithard Resa (1st principal)*
  • Naoko Shimizu (principal)
  • Wilfried Strehle (principal)
  • Amichai Grosz
  • Micha Afkham
  • Julia Gartemann
  • Matthew Hunter
  • Ulrich Knörzer
  • Sebastian Krunnies
  • Walter Küssner
  • Ignacy Miecznikowski
  • Martin von der Nahmer
  • Zdzisław Polonek
  • Joaquín Riquelme García
  • Martin Stegner
  • Wolfgang Talirz
  • Georg Faust (1st principal)*
  • Ludwig Quandt (1st principal)*
  • Martin Löhr (principal)
  • Olaf Maninger
  • Richard Duven
  • Christoph Igelbrink
  • Solène Kermarrec
  • Stephan Koncz
  • Martin Menking
  • David Riniker
  • Nikolaus Römisch
  • Dietmar Schwalke
  • Knut Weber
Double basses
  • Matthew McDonald (1st principal)*
  • Janne Saksala (1st principal)*
  • Esko Laine (principal bass)
  • Fora Baltacigil
  • Martin Heinze
  • Wolfgang Kohly
  • Peter Riegelbauer
  • Edicson Ruiz
  • Janusz Widzyk
  • Ulrich Wolff
  • Andreas Blau (principal)*
  • Emmanuel Pahud (principal)*
  • Michael Hasel
  • Jelka Weber
  • Wenzel Fuchs (principal)*
  • Andreas Ottensamer (principal)*
  • Alexander Bader
  • Manfred Preis (bass clarinet)
  • Walter Seyfarth
  • Daniele Damiano (principal)*
  • Stefan Schweigert (principal)*
  • Mor Biron
  • Marion Reinhard (double)
  • Markus Weidmann
  • Radek Baborák (principal,retired)
  • Stefan Dohr (principal)*
  • Stefan de Leval Jezierski
  • Fergus McWilliam
  • Georg Schrekenberger
  • Klaus Wallendorf
  • Sarah Willis
  • Gábor Tarkövi (principal)*
  • Tamás Velenczei (principal)*
  • Thomas Clamor
  • Georg Hilser
  • Guillaume André Jehl
  • Martin Kretzer
  • Christhard Gössling (principal)*
  • Olaf Ott (principal)*
  • Jesper Busk Sørensen
  • Thomas Leyendecker
  • Stefan Schulz
  • Paul Hümpel
  • Alexander von Puttkamer
  • Rainer Seegers
  • Wieland Welzel
  • Raphael Häger
  • Simon Rössler
  • Franz Schindlbeck
  • Jan Schlichte
  • Marie-Pierre Langlamet

* denotes current soloists.

In popular culture

The soundtrack album for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey offers a version of Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra performed by the BPO conducted by Karl Böhm. (The version used in the movie itself was by the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Karajan, uncredited, but copyright owner Decca Records didn't want to be associated with science-fiction.[citation needed])

On November 19, 1999, the BPO played with the heavy metal band Metallica in a sold-out concert at the Berlin Velodrom arena, the only European stop on the band's three-date S&M symphony tour. The orchestra was conducted by Michael Kamen. They also played with the German rock band Scorpions on their 2000 album Moment of Glory.[19]

See also


  • Annemarie Kleinert: Music at its Best: The Berlin Philharmonic. From Karajan to Rattle, BoD Publishing Company, Norderstedt 2009, ISBN 978-3-8370-6361-5 (see here).


  1. ^ "Murray Perahia – Pianist in Residence 2011/2012, Berlin Philharmonic
  2. ^ (Playbill Arts) Matthew Westphal, "The Top Ten European Orchestras, According to Ten European Media Outlets", 10 October 2006. Accessed 30 May 2008.
  3. ^ Tom Huizenga (21 November 2008). "Chicago Symphony Tops U.S. Orchestras". NPR. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  4. ^ Kate Connolly (10 November 1999). "Band of no gold". The Guardian.,,255048,00.html. Retrieved 17 August 2007. 
  5. ^ Matthew Westphal (6 November 2006). "Berlin Philharmonic Names Winner of First Claudio Abbado Composition Prize". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 
  6. ^ Andrew Clements (24 June 1999). "Picking up the baton". The Guardian.,,288989,00.html. Retrieved 17 August 2007. 
  7. ^ Charlotte Higgins (29 April 2008). "Berlin Philharmonic keeps Rattle". The Guardian.,,2276770,00.html. Retrieved 30 April 2008. 
  8. ^ Catherine Hickley (24 April 2008). "Rosenberg Will Leave Berlin Philharmonic; Rattle Negotiates". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 28 April 2008. 
  9. ^ "Neuer Intendant der Berliner Philharmoniker" (in German). Berlin Philharmonic. 19 June 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Agence France-Presse (1 May 2007). "Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to probe Nazi-era history". European Jewish Express. Retrieved 17 August 2007. 
  11. ^ Tony Paterson (28 August 2007). "Berlin Philharmonic 'was obedient servant of Hitler'". The Independent. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 
  12. ^ Das Reichsorchester at the Internet Movie Database.
  13. ^ Kate Connolly (21 May 2008). "Musicians flee Philharmonic fire in Berlin". The Guardian.,,2281162,00.html. Retrieved 22 May 2008. 
  14. ^ Nicholas Kulish and Daniel J. Wakin (21 May 2008). "Fire Under Control at Home of Berlin Philharmonic". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2008. 
  15. ^ Daniel J. Wakin (22 May 2008). "Hall Interior in Berlin Intact After Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2008. 
  16. ^ UNICEF: UNICEF appoints Berliner Philharmoniker Goodwill Ambassador, 17 November 2007.
  17. ^ Digitalconcerthall. Retrieved 10 November 2011
  18. ^ Berliner Philharmoniker: Das Orchester. Retrieved 3 May 2011
  19. ^ Michael Custodis, chapter: "Moment of Glory - The Scorpions und die Berliner Philharmoniker" in: Klassische Musik heute. Eine Spurensuche in der Rockmusik, Bielefeld, Transcript-Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-8376-1249-3

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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