The new season has begun, and the Berliner Philharmoniker are looking forward to an eventful time. But for three members it was time to say goodbye in recent months – to an orchestra that was certainly more than just a place of work for all of them. We introduce you to these musicians and let them tell you about their most memorable and meaningful experiences with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
“Forty-four years ago, I was surprised and overwhelmed to be chosen by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan to join this unique orchestra and become part of this fantastic horn section,” Stefan de Leval Jezierski recalls, saying what a tremendous privilege it was to be able to perform with the best musicians over all these years. The horn player looks back on his time with the Berliner Philharmoniker with gratitude. Originally from Boston, Stefan de Leval Jezierski studied at the North Carolina School of Arts and under Myron Bloom at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He participated in concerts and tours of the Cleveland Orchestra while still a student. Before joining the Berliner Philharmoniker as principal horn in 1978, he was principal horn at the Staatstheater Kassel for two years. The musician is one of the founding members of the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin. What advice would he give to his young colleagues in the orchestra? “Enjoy your time with the Berliner Philharmoniker! It passes far too quickly.”
Manfred Preis had never thought of playing the bass clarinet before in his life. But then a position as bass clarinettist was advertised with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Since he had dreamed of joining this orchestra since childhood, the musician, a former scholarship holder of the Karajan Academy and at that time clarinettist of the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, saw his chance come in 1982: he applied and got the job. “To perform with the world’s best artists was a wonderful experience and a constant process of development,” says Manfred Preis. He says he has also adopted the values that are embraced in this orchestra in his own life: respect, tolerance, dedication to music and a great sense of community. “I particularly enjoyed the warm, relaxed and friendly interaction with my colleagues backstage and on stage, so that I never thought of my job as work.” He has no intention of slowing down in his retirement, but wants to calmly, confidently and unconventionally reshape his life with constant change.
“It was a wonderful place to work,” says Ulrich Wolff with enthusiasm. When the double bass player joined the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1978, he was the youngest member of the orchestra at 22. “Looking back, those early days are what I remember most fondly: the wonderful concerts and tours with Karajan, the performances with Leonard Bernstein and Carlos Kleiber, and our very first tour of China in 1979.” Born in Wuppertal, he studied under Philharmoniker double bassist Rainer Zepperitz and was also involved with the Berliner Philharmoniker on the Council of Five and the staff council. In addition to his orchestral work, he devoted himself whole-heartedly to Early Music. He played the solo viola da gamba in numerous performances of the Bach Passions under Simon Rattle in Berlin, London, New York, Lucerne and Baden-Baden. According to Ulrich Wolff, his colleagues gave him “happy years” with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He feels a special bond with the members of his bass section: “We grew together to become a unit, both artistically and personally, something that became more and more enjoyable over the years.”