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Current events

(Photo: Thomas Rosenthal)


31 October 2021 “I am an eclectic”
A Saint-Saëns matinee on the 100th anniversary of his death

Probably everyone knows his Carnival of the Animals. Yet Camille Saint-Saëns composed this witty “zoological fantasy” just for a Carnival party among friends, as a joke, and even refrained from publishing it. It is an irony of history that this work, of all things, has eclipsed the rest of his oeuvre. But there is still much to discover there: Saint-Saëns produced real gems, especially in the field of chamber music – no surprise, since as founder of the Société nationale de musique he was one of the pioneers of a new, genuinely French instrumental art. His work reveals an astonishing stylistic diversity: “I am eclectic,” he confessed, adding: “I love freedom passionately”. This matinee, in honour of Saint-Saëns on the 100th anniversary of his death on 16 December 1921, presents some of his most beautiful compositions for ensemble and duo – and introduces us to his turbulent life.


13 February 2022 “How powerful must be your magic tone!”
A flute matinee with Emmanuel Pahud

The flute has been around for as long as humans have existed. It is mentioned in the Bible and in the great myths of the world. There are gods who play the flute, such as Krishna and Osiris, and virginal nymphs who, fleeing from the meddlesome flute player Pan, turn into reeds. The Pied Piper of Hamelin created a literal following with his flute playing, and in Mozart’s Zauberflöte, Tamino masters the most difficult tests thanks to his instrument – even the water test and baptism of fire cannot harm him. As it says in the first act of the opera, “O such a flute is worth more than gold and crowns, / For through it man's happiness and contentment are increased”. This is what we also want to achieve with our second matinee – and to this end have given Emmanuel Pahud “carte blanche”. A true “Zauberflötist”,Pahud has been principal flute with the Philharmoniker since 1993 and has played a decisive role in shaping the sound of the orchestra. He now presents some of his favourite chamber music – and reveals details about his instrument.


19 June 2022 “When does a genius become a genius?”
A child prodigy matinee

Many musicians drew attention to themselves at an early age and were admired by the world as “child prodigies”. But their fame did not always last long: many experienced that the hysterical enthusiasm of the public turned into total indifference after a few years. Also, the nature of their performances was sometimes more reminiscent of the circus or the funfair, even in the case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who as a six- or seven-year-old had to perform his piano skills on a keyboard blindfolded. And what to make of the first compositions he created at that age? Was it perhaps his father Leopold who wrote them? How much of the “child prodigy’s” own work is there, or, to put it another way, when does a genius become a genius? This is the question we want to explore in our June matinee. In addition to Mozart, our subjects are Felix Mendelssohn, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Franz Schubert, who will be represented by works they created between the ages of 10 and 17.

Other events for all members

Sun, 24 April 2022, 15:00, Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music”: the Philharmoniker gene

The Berliner Philharmoniker have an unmistakable sound. And who would disagree with this statement? But what is the nature of this phenomenon? Spanning generations and for which – who knows – certain characteristics have perhaps been passed on since their founding years, how does this continuity of sound come about? This discussion is about fathers and sons who played or play in the ranks of the orchestra, such as Giusto and Alessandro Cappone and Zdzisław and Krzysztof Polonek; about Philharmoniker siblings such as Cornelia and Julia Gartemann and Christoph and Martin von der Nahmer; and above all about the teacher-student relationship, because a good number of today’s orchestra members were trained by older colleagues at the Herbert von Karajan Academy. A genealogical investigation.


25 May 2022, 16:15, Philharmonie, main auditorium
Dress rehearsal with Paavo Järvi

When Paavo Järvi made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2000, he could not have imagined the impact it would have. Born in Estonia in 1962, the conductor is now one of the orchestra’s busiest conducting stars and makes a guest appearance here every season. In 2018, he even conducted the Europakonzert at the Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth. Järvi loves the Philharmoniker because every musician there is simply a master of their craft. And the Philharmoniker, for their part, appreciate his tremendous versatility, which can also be enjoyed at this dress rehearsal. The first piece on the programme is Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, a classic, but one that Järvi fills with drive and pulsating vitality. With Sibelius’ Seventh, he devotes himself to a Scandinavian classic. And in between, he presents a new flute concerto by his compatriot Erkki-Sven Tüür.

Further events for sponsors and patrons

15 December 2021, 16:15, Philharmonie, main auditorium
Dress rehearsal with Zubin Mehta

This anniversary deserves celebrating! On 18 September 1961, no less than sixty years ago, Zubin Mehta conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time. This makes him the longest serving maestro who is still actively associated with the orchestra today – even ahead of Daniel Barenboim. Six decades of collaboration are an incredibly long time in the world of music. When the then 25-year-old Mehta introduced himself to the orchestra’s audiences in Berlin, the Philharmonie was yet to be built. Since then, he has conducted around 175 concerts with the orchestra and accompanied three generations of Philharmoniker musicians. It is no surprise that Zubin Mehta was appointed an honorary member of the Berliner Philharmoniker in November 2019. He has long since ceased to be a guest here, explained orchestra representative Knut Weber in his address, but rather a “friend, role model, artistic advisor, audience favourite and musical authority”. You can experience what makes the special chemistry in their artistic partnership at this final rehearsal, when Mehta conducts Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Philharmoniker.


12 March 2022, 16:00, Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music” An appointment with Madeleine Carruzzo

Madeleine Carruzzo made music history: in 1982, the Swiss violinist joined the Berliner Philharmoniker, the first woman to do so in the hundred years since the orchestra was founded. She has long since ceased to be the only one, but when she concludes her Philharmoniker career at the end of the 2021/22 season, she will once again set standards as she is the first to retire after a full 40 years’ service. In this encounter with a true “prima donna”, we will look back with Madeleine Carruzzo on her time with the orchestra and relive four decades of exhilarating experiences, exciting changes of eras, and surprising events.

Former events


28 February 2021, 11:00, Philharmonie
“When does a genius become a genius?” – A child prodigy matinee

Many musicians attracted attention at an early age and were admired by the world as “child prodigies”. But their fame did not always last long. Some discovered that, after a few years, the hysterical enthusiasm of the audience turned into a total lack of interest. The way they had to perform were also sometimes more reminiscent of a circus or a funfair – even in the case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who, as a six or seven-year-old, had to perform his piano skills on a keyboard covered with a cloth. And what about his first compositions which he created at this age? Did perhaps father Leopold have a hand in these? How much of the child prodigies’ works are their own or, to put it differently: at what point does a genius become a genius? This question is the theme of the second matinee. In addition to Mozart, our subjects are Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. They will be heard in works created between the ages of 10 and 17.

6 March 2021,15:30, exhibition foyer of the Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music” – Rendez-vous with Emmanuel Pahud

In the third round of our “Rendez-vous” series with Philharmoniker principal players, a wind player will be a guest for the first time: sponsors and patrons can look forward to a Saturday afternoon with flute player Emmanuel Pahud. Music lovers all over the world know and admire the magical sounds that the Geneva-born musician, who joined the orchestra at a very young age in 1993, is able to elicit from his instrument. But Emmanuel Pahud is also a witty conversationalist who knows how to talk about music with gusto and humour. He will of course also talk about his life and give an insight into his everyday routine.

21 April 2021, 16:15, Philharmonie
Rehearsal visit to the concert with Mikko Franck and Yefim Bronfman

Anyone who wants to play the solo part in Brahms' First Piano Concerto needs everything that distinguishes an excellent pianist: the strength and fingering to hold their own against the omnipresent orchestra in this symphony in disguise; extreme virtuosity to master the dreaded octave trills and the delicate fast textures; poetry to capture the Romantic soul of the work. And you also have to be able to make the keyboard sing. The American pianist Yefim Bronfman has all these qualities and will demonstrate his virtuosity at this rehearsal. At his side is the Finnish conductor Mikko Franck, who presents a work from his homeland in the second part: Jean Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony with its hymn-like Finale.

15 May 2021, 15:00, Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music”– What happens at an orchestra rehearsal?

Anyone who attends a concert is of course well aware that the result and experience of the evening are preceded by a series of rehearsals. But what actually happens in the workshop of an orchestra is shrouded in mystery and known only to a very few – at best from a few famous anecdotes about rehearsal grouches and rehearsal zealots among the conductors. Reason enough to ask three members of the Berliner Philharmoniker about the everyday reality of intensive and often strenuous rehearsal work. Are there ever disagreements or is everything harmonious? How popular are talkative conductors among musicians? Do people bury themselves in details or do they look at the bigger picture? And: who actually has the final word? A panel will discuss these aspects with the use of historical and current rehearsal recordings.

20 June 2021 - What the angels play in heaven ...
A harp matinee

The harp is one of the oldest instruments of all. Even the biblical story of David, whose heavenly harp playing even brightened the mind of the depressed King Saul, talks of the instrument. Perhaps this is why the harp became a popular attribute in the portrayal of angels, right up to Ludwig Thoma’s “Münchner im Himmel”. What is certain is that the harp is one of the heaviest instruments of all – it weighs 35 to 40 kilos – and that it is one of the most decorative ones. And what can’t be done with its musically! It can produce arpeggios, glissandi and flageoletts, evoke the sound of the wind or the trickle of water with magical sounds. Marie-Pierre Langlamet, harpist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, will present all facets of her harp at this matinee: an instrument of unlimited possibilities.


28 November 2020, 10:00, Philharmonie
General rehearsal for the Daniel Barenboim concert

Daniel Barenboim has been associated with the Berliner Philharmoniker for longer than almost any other conductor. In 1964, he made his debut with the orchestra as the soloist in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto, then in 1969, he appeared as a conductor for the first time, presenting works by Haydn, Beethoven and Schumann. Several highlights are associated with his name, including the special concert for citizens of the GDR, which took place a few days after the fall of the wall, and, the following year, a tour of Israel. It is no surprise that Barenboim was appointed honorary conductor of the Philharmoniker in 1992. What is the secret of this rewarding collaboration? You can find out for yourself at this general rehearsal with works by Ferruccio Busoni, Jacques Ibert and César Franck.

16 February 2020
“Real art is obstinate”

A Beethoven matinee
And another birthday that no one can ignore in 2020: 250 years ago saw the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, known as the “Titan” among composers. In fact, anyone can do something with the name Beethoven, even if he has no relationship to classical music at all. But for classical aficionados, Beethoven’s art is like the gate to Elysium. But how well do we really know Beethoven? At this both literary and musical Beethoven matinee, we will hear from contemporary witnesses who experienced Beethoven themselves and remember him - “a completely unrestrained personality” as Goethe called him. And we will hear works that you don’t encounter every day or that you might not even associate with Beethoven. How did the master himself formulate it? “Real art is obstinate ...”.

11 January 2020, 3 p.m., Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music”

The Berliner Philharmoniker and Beethoven




3 November 2019
70 years of “Friends of the Berliner Philharmoniker”

An Anniversary-Matinee
Hard to believe: the “Friends” are turning 70! – a reason to celebrate! The first matinee of the 2019/20 season is therefore all about our own history. Speaker Christina Stresemann, presiding judge at the Federal Court of Justice and deputy chairman of the “Friends” board of trustees, will shed light on the development of the association: it was founded on 5 October 1949 as a major citizens’ initiative to facilitate the construction of the new Philharmonie, but much remains to be done even after this goal was achieved. As the daughter of Wolfgang Stresemann, the long-time general manager of the Philharmonie, Christina Stresemann has much to tell. And, of course, the Philharmoniker will also be performing for our anniversary, with Johannes Brahms’ First Serenade in the Nonet version. Afterwards, we will all raise a toast to the anniversary.

23 June 2019
Travel around the world in 60 minutes

A Holiday-Matinee
The season comes to an end, the holiday season begins, and our minds fast forward to vacation mode and to much longed-for destinations near and far. The musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker take you on an imaginary world tour through countries and continents; that’s how they introduce themselves and their homelands - by now, about half the orchestra consists of instrumentalists of non-German origin. Therefore, this “Holiday-Matinee” is also a tribute to the internationality of the Philharmoniker and reminds of the fundamental truth that music knows no borders.

3 March 2019
Lots of iridescent personalities

A Matinee about instruments, their merits and quirks
Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, who most people today only know because of its namesake Franz Schubert who composed the music to the poem “Die Forelle” (the Trout), was a musical-literary all-round talent beyond compare, a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart. Hardly anyone in the 18th century (and since) could write about music in such an original, vivid and humorous fashion. His talent becomes particularly visible in his descriptions of the various instruments: In presenting their merits and quirks, he introduces them like character heads from the circle of friends or odd types of relatives. In this Matinee, Schubart's brilliant and amusing writings are presented, but of course the characterized instruments not only speak, but also sound - with a selected and unusual repertoire.

Further events

26 January 2019
“Let’s talk about music”

Unforgotten: To the Fifth Anniversary of Claudio Abbado's Death
Five years ago, on January 20, 2014, Claudio Abbado, who headed the Berliner Philharmoniker as Principal Conductor from 1990 to 2002, completely redefining the orchestra under the aegis of Herbert von Karajan, died. He remained close to the Philharmoniker with annual performances to the last - his death has torn a painful gap. In addition to the commemorative concert “In memoriam Claudio Abbado”, which will be organized by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under the direction of Robin Ticciati on 26 January in the evening, we would like to commemorate the great musician Abbado in the afternoon with a talk.

14 December 2019
“Let’s talk about music”

Rendezvous with Bruno Delepelaire
For the debut of our series Rendezvous with Philharmoniker soloists, we were able to introduce the concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley to you – now, for the second round, Bruno Delepelaire, first principal cellist of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2013, awaits you. As a soloist, the French-born musician has demonstrated the enrichment he represents for the orchestra, for example in the 2018/19 season with Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D major. In the talk for our sponsors and patrons we will get to know him better – and can also look forward to a sample of his art.


25 February 2018
“I am I”

A Debussy Matinee on his centenary of death
2018 is a Debussy year. The French composer, who opened up new musical worlds with his impressionistic sounds, died exactly a century ago, on 25 March 1918. However, he often felt misunderstood in Germany. When in 1910 he was asked what he thought of a "week of French music” in Munich, Debussy replied:  “People will come out of politeness and they will applaud, perhaps, with that German courtesy that is so difficult to put up with. I am convinced that our art would not make a single conquest in Germany.” Our Matinee will show that Debussy has been proven wrong. On the program is not only the composer’s chamber music: as a polished author and a highly gifted polemicist, Debussy himself will also get the chance to speak.

24 June 2018
The fabulous Twelve

A cellist Matinee
They are probably the most famous ensemble amongst our orchestra: the 12 cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker who are praised worldwide for their incomparable sound culture, their temperament and their perfection. As crossover artists, the Twelve feel as much at home in the modernity as in the classical repertoire, which they present in always new arrangements. But as well film music, pop, jazz or tango have they taken into their hearts. In their Matinee for the “friends” there is something of everything and for everyone.

21 October 2018
“The Sky Over Paris”

A France Matinee with the Philharmonic Wind Quintet
On 1 May 2019, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s European Concert will take place in the magnificent Mausée d'Orsay in Paris. Once upon a time a railway station, the building was transformed into a cultural space in 1986 and since then accommodates famous paintings by Manet and Monet, Degas and Cézanne, van Gogh and Max Liebermann. The Friends Association significantly contributes to the realization of the Philharmoniker’s performance. 100 years after the end of World War I, we want to celebrate the Franco-German friendship and literally set the right tone for this occasion. With this Matinee we invite you to Paris to a concert of the Philharmonic Wind Quintet - an ensemble celebrating its 30th anniversary this season.


5 March 2017
A Brass Matinee

The brass ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker
It has almost become a tradition: over the last two seasons, we began to introduce various instrument groups of the Berliner Philharmoniker, first bass instruments, later the percussionists. The small series now goes into the third round and this time we will concentrate on the brass ensemble of the orchestra. Their repertoire ranges from Giovanni Gabrieli to Broadway – “Be in for a surprise!”

25 June 2017
The double String Quartet

A Matinee at Mendelssohn’s house
On Sunday mornings the banker Abraham Mendelssohn used to invite friends, acquaintances and important customer to exquisite house concerts at his mansion, featuring members of the Berliner Hofkapelle. His highly talented son Felix was able to introduce his first compositions at these events. You will experience such “Sunday music in Mendelssohn’s house” first-hand, presented by the Pro Quartett, for which the Friends association has assumed a sponsorship. The four young musicians are complemented by their teachers, the acclaimed Philharmonia Quartet: Together they will play an excerpt from young Mendelssohn’s String Octet. 

29 October 2017
How serious is the
“serious music
A Matinee with humor
We want to clean up with a persistent prejudice and prove to you that the so-called “serious music” is not so terribly serious but can rather be very pleasurable: for example when Hindemith makes fun of the musicians’ guild, Haydn misleads the listeners or Mozart thumbs his nose at the audience. No question: these composers didn’t want to write “serious music”, only the lawyers have put this label on them. Because it were experts on copyright who brought the term into the world to secure their clients higher royalties. And as generally known, the fun stops at money matters… 


21 February 2016
Drum, Hammer, Rattles

A Drum Matinee
They are the Universalists of the orchestra: The percussionists of the Berliner Philharmoniker have to master not only one instrument, but several dozen. Whether drums or cymbals, tam-tam, gong or triangle, wood block, hammer and whip, marimba or xylophone, cowbells, cymbals and rattles – there are more than enough. And when it comes to contemporary works, then the percussionist must sometimes become the inventor and create a whole new tone. This matinee introduces the musicians and their instruments with selected compositions.

26 June 2016
Berliner Philharmoniker

A “Female” Matinee
“Music is a woman,” Richard Wagner once claimed. But when it came to composing music or even performing, it was very hard for women. Until well into the 20th century many of the leading orchestra’s were exclusively male bastions, to say nothing of the restrictions with which composers or female conductors had to fight. Yet there are a number of works by composers including and especially from the romantic era that deserve recognition. We present some of them, played by the female members of the Berlin Philharmoniker giving their creators a chance to “speak”.

30 October 2016The superb Viola A precious viola for the Philharmoniker The Friends of the Berliner Philharmoniker e.V. have purchased a precious viola. The instrument was made in 1780 by the Venetian luthier Domenico Busan and was last in possession of the famous virtuoso Bruno Giuranna who played it at concerts of the Philharmoniker or joint performances with the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. We would like to introduce this superb viola in our Autumn Matinee: with musical examples and talks.