Santtu­-Matias Rouvali and Víkingur Ólafsson

Santtu-Matias Rouvali (photo: Marco Borggreve)

John Adams describes his piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? as a “funky danse macabre”. Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has chosen the energetic, diabolical work for his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, with the youthful Santtu-­Matias Rouvali, principal conductor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, at the podium. Also on the programme are Helix, by our Composer in Residence Esa­-Pekka Salonen, which builds from an idyllic opening to its vehement conclusion, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, one of the composer’s most popular works.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Santtu-Matias Rouvali conductor

Víkingur Ólafsson piano

Esa-Pekka Salonen


John Adams

Must the devil have all the good tunes?, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Víkingur Ólafsson piano

Sergei Prokofiev

Symphony No. 5 in B flar major, op. 100

Dates and Tickets


Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Santtu-Matias Rouvali conducted London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for the first time as its new principal conductor in October of 2021, with “attention to detail”, “glowing string sound” and “irresistible elan” (The Guardian). The charismatic musician was already internationally acclaimed as another name in the long list of outstanding Finnish conductors from Paavo Berglund to Mikko Franck. Rouvali appears regularly as a guest with such renowned orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra. For his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in September 2019, the programme included Jean Sibelius’s First Symphony: “It was an event” with an “exceptional talent”, according to the Deutsche Welle. In addition to his post in London, Rouvali is also chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony as well as chief conductor and artistic director of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in Finland. He initially studied percussion in his native city of Lahti – which he played in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Then he turned to conducting, however, studying with Leif Segerstam at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Why these two musical disciplines in particular? “When I was four or five years old, my parents, who are also musicians, took me to orchestra rehearsals. That way they could save the money for a babysitter. And when you're a little boy, you're naturally most fascinated by the things that seem most interesting visually. And those are percussionists and conductors.”

Víkingur Ólafsson

The Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson is one of the outstanding artists of our time. He embodies a “rare combination of sheer technical brilliance, expressive control and interpretative depth”, wrote the British magazine Gramophone, which named him Artist of the Year in 2019. Other awards include the Rolf Schock Prize in 2022 and the Opus Klassik, which he received twice for the best solo recording. In addition, his Bach recording was chosen Album of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards. His wide-ranging discography is devoted to works by Philip Glass, Claude Debussy, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the most recent album, From Afar, was released this October. Víkingur Ólafsson’s recordings draw an enthusiastic response and were accessed more than 400 million times on streaming platforms. He appears in the concert hall with the world’s most prestigious orchestras – during the 2022/23 season alone, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic. Víkingur Ólafsson is not only able to convey music fascinatingly and engagingly as an interpreter but has also presented several television and radio broadcasts. During the Corona lockdown, he was Artist in Residence with the classical programme of the BBC, where he introduced music that he particularly loves to a worldwide audience for three months from the empty Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík in the broadcast Front Row.

Víkingur Ólafsson (photo: Ari Magg)