(photo: Heribert Schindler)

European Concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker

European Concert from the foyer of the Philharmonie Berlin with Kirill Petrenko

As in 2020, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Kirill Petrenko will again give their 2021 European Concert in the Philharmonie Berlin, due to the corona pandemic – this time in the foyer of the building. Its special architecture is an invitation to present the music spatially: Blacher’s festive Fanfare, Ives’ enigmatic Unanswered Question, Mozart’s serene Notturno and Penderecki’s spherical Emanations consciously rely on the effect of spatial sound. Also in the European Concert programme: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s charming Orchestral Suite No. 3 and John Adams’ witty piece Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Kirill Petrenko conductor

Boris Blacher

Fanfare for the Opening of the Philharmonie

Charles Ives

The Unanswered Question

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Notturno for 4 orchestras in D major, K. 286

Krzysztof Penderecki

Emanations for 2 string orchestras

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Suite No. 3 in G major, op. 55

John Adams

Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Dates and Tickets

This concert will take place without an audience and will be broadcast live in the Digital Concert Hall.

Sat, 01 May 2021, 11:00

Hauptfoyer Philharmonie


Although the Berliner Philharmoniker and its chief conductor Kirill Petrenko are remaining in their home city for their 2021 Europakonzert due to the pandemic, the foyer of their concert hall offers the audience of the live broadcast an unusual and particularly appealing venue. Wolfgang Stresemann, who was the orchestra’s general manager for many years, wrote about the space with its numerous staircases: “Nothing is static in this foyer of the Philharmonie; it only serves function. Everything is alive and seems to be in constant motion. One could almost speak of an architectural ʻperpertuum mobileʼ”. Ideal conditions, then, for the wild final piece of the programme, John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine, in which the music does not stand still for a second either. The unusual spatial-sound effects of the other programme items should also benefit from the specific architectural conditions of the foyer:

In his Emanations, Krzysztof Penderecki allows two separate instrumental ensembles to communicate with each other, while Charles Ives allows three in the famous study The Unanswered Question, and Mozart even allows four in his Notturno, which is full of witty echo effects. The concert starts with Boris Blacher’s Fanfare for the Opening of the Philharmonie, which Herbert von Karajan conducted at the building's inaugural concert on 15 October 1963. The main symphonic work on the programme is Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, whose premiere was conducted by Hans von Bülow, later chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, in St. Petersburg in 1885. In it, an elegy and a set of variations as a finale frame a waltz and a scherzo. With a programme that alternates between frenzied movement and meditation, the reflective and the dance-like, and melancholy and optimism, Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker want to present their audience with an entertaining Europakonzert full of hope, even in this difficult 2021.


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.

(photo: Heribert Schindler)


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