The Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker goes back to an initiative of Herbert von Karajan, who in the early 1970s had the idea of organizing the training of young orchestral talent of the Berliner Philharmoniker in an academy. This form of institutionalized support was an innovation at the time. For the first time, outstanding young musicians undergoing a first-class university education, but mostly oriented towards the solo repertoire, were given the opportunity to perfect themselves in a community of top musicians such as the Berliner Philharmoniker.
But it is not only the academy students who benefit for their future from the top training in the form of a two-year scholarship, but also the Berliner Philharmoniker themselves. For the decisive factor in winning an audition for a position in their orchestra is not only instrumental ability and musicality at the highest level, but also a sound that suits the orchestra. Optimally prepared for this by the orchestra's musicians, the highly talented academy students can become young professionals of the Berliner Philharmoniker who continue the tradition. Around a third of today's Berliner Philharmoniker have emerged from the Academy.
What makes a good orchestral musician? Someone who knows – while playing themselves – to listen carefully to their colleagues, someone who is aware of what the other musicians are doing. Someone who permanently exercises critical self-reflection, and who is never satisfied with what they achieve, but constantly strives to be even better. This concept of oneself which the Berliner Philharmoniker have made their own, is taught to the students by the tutors of the Karajan Academy. The Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker trains musicians on all orchestral instruments – in preparation for their future career in the orchestra. The training programme is both a postgraduate course and an internship.
The four pillars of our education programme
All students receive two hours tuition on their instrument per week. The tutors are predominantly the concertmasters and section leaders of the orchestra. In addition to the orchestra’s particular playing style and sound ideal, tutors teach the students the philosophy of the orchestra, promote the responsibilities of the musician as an individual, and motivate them to set the highest possible goals.
The students regularly participate in orchestral rehearsals and concerts, providing them with an insight into the everyday life of a professional musician. They not only get to know the standard repertoire, but also how to listen to their colleagues and to integrate themselves into the orchestra collective.
Chamber music occupies a particularly prominent place at the Academy as it serves to promote the whole instrumental culture. The students are introduced to the specific repertoire of their respective instrument. In addition, there are work phases focusing on Early and Contemporary music on a regular basis. In these chamber music projects, the students receive the necessary fine-tuning, and they learn to understand the importance of listening carefully to each other. Moreover, the standard repertory of Classic, Romantic and Contemporary music is worked on together with all the other instrumentalists of the Academy. Each season, between five and seven public concerts are held in the Berlin Philharmonie.
Last but not least, the young musicians are prepared for future auditions, including rehearsing the necessary repertoire, especially the orchestral parts, and mentally preparing themselves for the extreme conditions that the situation involves.