Biennale of the Berliner Philharmoniker

Alan Gilbert and Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell (photo: Shervin Lainez)

Alan Gilbert, chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, presents three 20th-century works which creatively confront the music of the past. Boris Blacher takes one of the most famous themes from the violin literature as the point of departure for his jazzy, virtuosic Paganini Variations. Samuel Barber, on the other hand, revitalizes the late Romantic violin concerto with unmistakable American tones. Joshua Bell returns to the Berliner Philharmoniker as soloist after a 15-year absence. Henri Dutilleux’s Second Symphony concludes the programme: a Baroque concerto grosso in the musical guise of Modernism.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Alan Gilbert conductor

Joshua Bell violin

Boris Blacher

Orchestral variations on a theme by Paganini, op. 26

Samuel Barber

Violin Concerto, op. 14

Joshua Bell violin

Henri Dutilleux

Symphony No. 2 “Le Double”

Biennale packages

Put together your own individual Biennale package with three (10% discount) or five events (15% discount). You can choose from a total of twelve concert programmes of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. The Biennale packages are available exclusively online.

3 concerts / 10 % discount

5 concerts / 15 % discount

Dates and Tickets


Alan Gilbert

“Orchestras”, says Alan Gilbert, “should play the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. But we also need to explore other genres and styles and motivate today’s composers to keep working.” After all, he said, orchestras around the world are “trying to bring music to people who are still unfamiliar with it”. Alan Gilbert, who led the New York Philharmonic as music director from 2009 to 2017, is chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and music director of the Royal Opera in Stockholm. Born in New York, he enjoys an outstanding reputation in the international music world as a dedicated interpreter of a broad repertoire from the Baroque era to music of the present day. As a sought-after guest conductor, he regularly appears with leading international orchestras and has conducted opera productions at, among others, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, the Zurich Opera House and the Semperoper in Dresden. Gilbert is honorary conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and founder of Musicians for Unity, an organisation led by the United Nations that promotes peace, development and human rights. He has received many international awards, including the Ditson Conductor’s Award from Columbia University in New York in recognition of his outstanding commitment to the works of American composers and to contemporary music.

Joshua Bell

“Music can go straight to your soul. It can grab you, move you and change you as a human being.” These are the words of the US star violinist Joshua Bell, who has performed with every internationally renowned orchestra: an exceptional artist who made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in May 2002 and was last a guest with them in 2005.  In addition to classical music, Bell has worked with musicians such as Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Anoushka Shankar, Frankie Moreno, Josh Groban and Sting.  He became known to a wider audience through his involvement in the Oscar-winning soundtrack of the film The Red Violin and has since been involved in many other Hollywood projects – from Angels & Demons with Tom Hanks to Defiance with Daniel Craig. The New York-based musician attracts attention with the Classical-Romantic repertoire as well as with new compositions by Edgar Meyer, Behzad Ranjbaran and Nicholas Maw, whose violin concerto he played in a recording that won a Grammy Award. Bell is involved in projects such as Education Through Music and Turnaround Arts, which aims to give children access to classical music. In August 2021, he announced his partnership with the violin learning app Trala to develop a novel curriculum for music education. Since 2001, Joshua Bell has played a 1713 Stradivarius owned by the legendary Bronisław Huberman.

Alan Gilbert (photo: Peter Hundert)


The Arts in Germany in the 1950s and 1960s