Iván Fischer conducts Mahler’s First Symphony

Iván Fischer (photo: Marco Borggreve)

“Mahler’s First Symphony is very close to me,” says Iván Fischer. “Perhaps because I hear in it a great deal of Mahler’s middle-class, assimilated Jewish background – from which I come myself.” The native of Hungary, one of the great Mahler interpreters of our time, also loves the work’s combination of exuberant Czech music-making, folk elements and lyrical tone. During this concert, he also conducts music by Mahler’s contemporary Richard Strauss: a lively selection of waltzes from Rosenkavalier and the nostalgic Duet-­Concertino with clarinettist Wenzel Fuchs and bassoonist Stefan Schweigert, principal wind players with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Iván Fischer conductor

Wenzel Fuchs clarinet

Stefan Schweigert bassoon

Richard Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier. Second Set of Waltzes

Richard Strauss

Duet-Concertino in F major

Wenzel Fuchs clarinet, Stefan Schweigert bassoon

Gustav Mahler

Symphony No. 1 in D major

Dates and Tickets


Iván Fischer

Iván Fischer was chief conductor of Berlin’s Konzerthaus Orchestra for many years and continues to appear with the ensemble as its honorary conductor. He still leads the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which he founded almost 40 years ago and which the British classical music magazine  Gramophone ranks as one of the top ten orchestras in the world. Fischer, who comes from a Hungarian family of musicians, has been one of the world’s leading orchestral conductors for many years. He is an acknowledged Mahler expert who takes the composer’s unorthodox performance directions, his unusual bowings and his instructions to the winds to play with raised bells seriously. That cannot be taken for granted even today. Iván Fischer loves Mahler’s First Symphony in particular: “It is such a wonderful piece; it means a lot to me. Perhaps because I hear in it so much of this bourgeois, assimilated Jewish background that Mahler had – and from which I come myself.” Fischer studied cello and composition in Budapest before devoting himself to conducting under the guidance of Hans Swarowsky in Vienna. After serving as Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s assistant in Salzburg and winning the Rupert Foundation competition in London, the conductor launched his career. Early on, he also began developing creative new concert formats as well as directing operas and staged concerts.

Wenzel Fuchs

Wenzel Fuchs actually wanted to become a ski racer, but then he broke his foot and couldn’t train any more. As a clarinettist in a wind ensemble, the Innsbruck native had the opportunity to play for an oboist from the Vienna Philharmonic who was on holiday in the area just then. “I played for him in my parents’ sports shop, and he said I should come to Vienna. So I went there,” Wenzel Fuchs recalls. The principal clarinet of the Berliner Philharmoniker studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, where he initially played as a substitute with the Vienna Philharmonic. He began his professional career as principal clarinettist of the Vienna Volksoper and the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra before joining the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1993: “What makes working with the Berliner Philharmoniker so unique? Communication, enthusiasm for playing, collegiality and quality.” In addition to his work with the orchestra, Wenzel Fuchs is active as a soloist and chamber musician, appearing with such partners as Yefim Bronfman, Emmanuel Pahud and András Schiff. He also teaches at the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker, is a visiting professor at the Geidai University in Tokyo and holds an honorary professorship at the  Shanghai Conservatory. Wenzel Fuchs gives master classes throughout the world and is a professor at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg.

Stefan Schweigert

“Every day with music is a new attempt, and there is nothing that’s carved in stone. It’s the moment that counts!” says Stefan Schweigert, principal bassoon of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1985. The musician, who was born in Kaiserslautern, also appears as a soloist, was a member of the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin for twelve years and performed regularly with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He also appeared several times at Gidon Kremer’s Lockenhaus Festival and at Lars Vogt’s chamber music festival “Spannungen” at Kraftwerk Heimbach. In addition to his work with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Stefan Schweigert also performs with András Schiff’s ensemble Cappella Andrea Barca and Sabine Meyer’s wind ensemble. He found his way to the bassoon more or less by chance: “Actually, I have my music teacher to thank for that, because he needed a bassoon for our school orchestra.” When Schweigert began his studies with Klaus Thunemann at the University of Music in Hanover, he was already a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Germany. He has taught at the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1987 and is also a professor at the University of Music in Freiburg. Stefan Schweigert gives master classes in Germany, Spain, Japan and the US: “It’s normal for us to give each other something that inspires us. No one can achieve anything on their own without inspiration.”