Claudio Abbado | Picture: Cordula Groth

In addition to the donation-funded, non-profit Association which enables the training of young gifted musicians by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, there has been yet another institution since the year 2000: the Stiftung zur Förderung der Orchester-Akademie (Foundation for the Promotion of the Orchestra Academy). Its sole aim is to provide long-term support for this training ground for excellent orchestral musicians, founded by Herbert von Karajan.

Claudio Abbado, Karajan's successor and chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker from 1989 to 2002, provided the Academy with substantial support by allowing the assets of the Claudio Abbado Music Foundation to benefit the foundation in 2002. In honour of the great conductor, the Karajan Academy awards the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize on an occasional basis. The award-winner is at the same time commissioned to write a work that takes into account the instrumentation of the students and corresponds to their musical and artistic skills. The work is rehearsed with the students by the composer and premiered at a concert of the Karajan Academy.

2022: Donghoon Shin

Nachtergebung, Concerto for cello and orchestra
Premiere on 07 May 2022

Conductor: Kirill Petrenko
Cello: Bruno Delepelaire


Donghoon Shin | Picture: Lee Tae Kyung

The cello concerto Nachtergebung consists of five movements that flow directly into one another, the titles of which are borrowed from poems by the Austrian expressionist Georg Trakl. The darkly glowing texts, full of foreboding and rich in eerily beautiful images, provide starting points for music. Donghoon Shin feels that they remind him of "artistic, bold counterpoint"; the images "inspired him to create various melodies, harmonies and colors".

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Karajan Academy, the work was premiered at the Philharmonie Berlin with soloist Bruno Delepelaire under the conductor Kirill Petrenko.

2020: Milica Djordjević

Transfixed for ensemble
Premiere on 22 September 2020


Milica Djordjević | Picture: Astrid Ackermann

Milica Djordjević's music is described as "rough, often even raw in gesture", as a "vital tonal language that denies harmony and beautiful sound less than it grants the experience of the elemental, quite pleasurably: Sounds of the emanations of the earth." Milica Djordjević was awarded the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize in 2020 and also received a commission from the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker for the work transfixed, which was premiered as part of the 2020 Musikfest.

2017: Vito Žuraj

Premiere on 5 November 2017


Vito Žuraj | Picture: Hans Christian Schinck

Vito Žuraj’s work is characterized by powerful and meticulously crafted compositions, tailor-made for the performers and often including scenic elements and spatial sound concepts. Born in Maribor in 1979, his works have quickly gained recognition at major concert halls and festivals, interpreted among others by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern and the RIAS Kammerchor.

2014: Valerio Sannicandro

Premiere on 9 November 2014


Valerio Sannicandro | Picture: Stefano Candito

Valerio Sannicandro’s sound language is an interplay between the compositional idea, a ‘spatialization’ of music and performing challenges. AQUAE presents the listener with tone images which sometimes sound unreal and whose production rely on the instrumentalists leaving their usual instrumental space.

2010: Bruno Mantovani

Concerto de chambre No.1
Premiere on 16 June 2010


Bruno Mantovani | Picture: Ferrante Ferranti

The thought and work of Bruno Mantovani combines historical knowledge with an awareness of the challenges of the future; for him, the consequence of this means confronting the present with all senses and drawing on its different musical forms. This worldly, life-affirming musicality makes him a perfect partner for the young, gifted musicians of the Academy.

2006: Jörg Widmann

Quintet for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano
Premiere on 10 November 2006


Jörg Widmann | Picture: Stefan Höderath

From compositional idea to actual playing and everything that lies between, Jörg Widmann was born to work with the academy students. The composer stands out through entering into a dialogue with the young musicians, and introducing them to his own aesthetic discourse by involving the players in the creative process. Thanks to him and his understanding of the young musicians, he consolidates the bridge to contemporary music.