Kirill Petrenko (photo: Stephan Rabold)

Pilot Project: Concert in Front of an Audience

For the first time since the last lockdown, Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker will present a concert in front of an audience – and you can be there! The only requirement is a Corona quick test, which you can have just before the concert with our help. In this pilot project, which is supported by the Berlin Senate, we want to test the conditions under which we can appear publicly again in the near future.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Kirill Petrenko conductor

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare

Sergei Rachmaninov

Symphony No. 2 in E minor, op. 27

Dates and Tickets

Sat, 20 Mar 2021, 19:00



At his debut with the Philharmoniker in February of 2006, Kirill Petrenko conducted one of his favourite works: Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony. Almost exactly 15 years later Petrenko, now the orchestra’s chief conductor, has programmed the composition a second time. After the traumatic fiasco of his First Symphony, the Second, whose premiere Rachmaninov conducted himself in St Petersburg in 1908, was a critical success. Today it is by far the most popular of the composer’s three works in this genre. Like all his symphonies and piano concertos, this epic work is also in a minor key and – particularly during the familiar slow movement, with its expansive clarinet solo – is filled with the melancholy and longing so typical of Rachmaninov. Equally effective is the second movement, which in addition to intimate melodies also contains echoes of the Dies Irae motif quoted by Rachmaninov in many of his works.

The second work on the programme is Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet. Mily Balakirev, the leader of the group “the Mighty Handful”, known in English as The Five, had suggested the subject to the composer. Although Tchaikovsky was already a professor of composition when he wrote the work, he had to put up with criticism such as the following from the autodidact Balakirev, who was only a few years older: “With regard to its deficiencies, namely its form, the overture still needs revising.” Tchaikovsky actually did revise the composition several times, although, as Petrenko pointed out in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall, during the process he increasingly emancipated himself from the influence of his severe critic.

The concert will be broadcast live on the radio (rbbKultur) at 20:04. You can see a recording of the concert on Easter Sunday, 4 April, at 17:00 on Arte and at 19:00 in the Digital Concert Hall.


Since the 2019/20 season, Kirill Petrenko has been chief conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philharmoniker. He received his training first in Russia, then in Austria. The international music world first became aware of him when he premiered Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung at the Meiningen Theater in 2001, directed by Christine Mielitz and designed by Alfred Hrdlicka, performed on four consecutive days. He conducted the cycle for the second time twelve years later at the Bayreuth Festival. At the same time, Kirill Petrenko took up his post as general music director of Bayerische Staatsoper, his third leading position at an opera house after Meiningen and the Komische Oper Berlin. He also made guest appearances at the world’s top opera houses (from the Wiener Staatsoper, Covent Garden in London and the Opéra National in Paris to the Metropolitan Opera in New York) as well as with the great international symphony orchestras – in Vienna, Munich, Dresden, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Rome, Chicago, Cleveland and Israel. He made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2006. Kirill Petrenko also appears with the Berliner Philharmoniker outside of Berlin – on tour and of course in the Digital Concert Hall. Selected performances are also available as recordings; most recently released was an edition with symphonic works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Franz Schmidt and Rudi Stephan.

Kirill Petrenko (photo: Stephan Rabold)