Wilhelm Furtwängler died in November 1954. In the following year, Herbert von Karajan took over as principal conductor. He would remain with the ensemble longer than any other conductor to date. He worked with the orchestra to cultivate a specific sound, an unprecedented perfection and virtuosity which laid the groundwork for its national and international successes – both in the concert hall and on countless recordings. Moreover, Karajan expanded the ensemble’s activities in a number of new directions.
With the founding of the Salzburg Easter Festival in 1967, the orchestra gained its own major international festival and an opportunity to make its mark in operatic circles. The founding of the Orchester-Akademie of the Berliner Philharmoniker, in which young and talented instrumentalists are prepared to meet the stringent demands of a top-flight orchestra through practical experience, provided yet more room for development. The new Philharmonie was also constructed during the Karajan era – the orchestra has made its home in the concert hall designed by Hans Scharoun since October 1963, and a chamber music hall was added in 1987.