Sun, 15 October 2023 11 am Main Auditorium
“Home game” - A matinee for the 60th birthday of the Philharmonie
The Philharmonie, which was designed by Hans Scharoun, celebrated its grand opening 60 years ago to the day, on 15 October 1963. The original goal of our association, which had still called itself “Friends of the Berliner Philharmonie” at its founding in 1949, was thus achieved. Its first priority was to build a new hall for the Philharmoniker, who became homeless after the former Philharmonie was destroyed during the Second World War. Scharoun’s revolutionary design, which the Friends supported enthusiastically, proved to be a success: to this day, the Philharmonie has lost none of its appeal. The architecture is as fascinating as it was on the first day; it still looks modern and became a model for many concert halls throughout the world, from Leipzig’s Gewandhaus to Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles to the Philharmonie de Paris. To celebrate the anniversary, we want to look back on its early days with music and explore in a discussion what this concert venue means for the orchestra, its style and its reputation.
Sun, 3 March 2024 11 am Main Auditorium
“Music for treasure hunters” - A Josef Suk matinee
Sometimes when you hear an unfamiliar work and are immediately fascinated by it, you wonder: why is this fantastic music never played? That may be the case for many who have encountered works by the Czech composer Josef Suk for the first time recently. He is one of the particular favourites of chief conductor Kirill Petrenko, who quickly introduced Suk’s tone poems into the repertoire of the Philharmoniker. But Josef Suk not only composed masterworks for large orchestra, he also wrote chamber music. These works date from his early years, when he was still strongly influenced by the musical language of his teacher (and later father-in-law) Antonín Dvořák. During this matinee, we want to “unearth” other treasures from his oeuvre that will captivate you with their Bohemian colour and musical vitality. And we will take you along on a journey through the life of Josef Suk, who celebrates an important birthday in 2024: he was born near Prague 150 years ago, on 4 January 1874.
Sun, 23 June 2024 11 am Main Auditorium
“The queen of instruments” - An organ matinee
The organ in the Philharmonie, which was built in 1965 by the Schuke organ builders, is one of the most important concert hall organs in the world, with its 6,500 pipes and 90 stops. It is not only heard in symphonic repertoire, in works such as Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, but also in the popular series of organ matinees presented by internationally acclaimed virtuosos. This instrument is one of the Friends’ most important projects: they financed a complete refurbishment between 2010 and 2012. During the past season, however, the electronic system, with which the various stops are called up in a matter of seconds, refused to do its job. Since entire key segments failed and the instrument could no longer be used, a renovation was urgently needed: it will be carried out during the summer break in 2023 and again financed by the Friends. At this organ matinee, we would like to present the “queen of instruments” with its new brilliance and sound – and offer you an exciting look at what goes on inside.
Sun, 21 April 2024 3:30 pm Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music”
The Berliner Philharmoniker – a Bruckner orchestra?
The music world will focus largely on Anton Bruckner in 2024. The Austrian composer, whose monumental symphonies no one would want to do without in the repertoire nowadays, was born 200 years ago in Ansfelden near Linz. During his lifetime, however, he was still derided by many: they regarded him as an erratic disciple of Wagner who wanted to apply the achievements of the Bayreuth master to orchestral music, and simply did not understand his works. The Berliner Philharmoniker already performed one of his symphonies for the first time in 1887, nine years before Bruckner’s death. And after Arthur Nikisch began his tenure as the orchestra’s conductor in 1895, Bruckner became a regular guest at concerts by the Philharmoniker. All of Nikisch’s successors – Furtwängler, Karajan, Abbado, Rattle and Petrenko – explored important facets of Brucker’s works in their interpretations. What characterizes the Bruckner sound of the Philharmoniker? A panel discussion with many musical examples.
Wed, 29 May 2024 4:15 pm Main Auditorium
Dress rehearsal with Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle won’t do without Bruckner in his anniversary year 2024, either. For the next appearance with his long-time orchestra, he has chosen the Sixth Symphony, which the composer himself called his “sauciest”. The metric energy and polyrhythms of the Sixth are astonishing; it combines dance music and mysticism with reminiscences of Wagner and embellishes the whole with a good dose of spirituality. A premiere before the premiere also awaits you at this dress rehearsal. One day before the world premiere, you can already gain a first impression of the new horn concerto that Composer in Residence Jörg Widmann has written for Stefan Dohr, the principal horn of the Philharmoniker. Only the Friends offer such exclusive insights!
Wed, 13 December 2023 4:15 pm Main Auditorium
Dress rehearsal with Andris Nelsons
That’s what you call friendship: conductor Andris Nelsons and violinist Baiba Skride already met as teenagers at the Academy of Music in their native city of Riga. Today they are both international stars and like to appear together. Such as with the Berliner Philharmoniker in December 2023, when they present Sofia Gubaidulina’s most recent violin concerto Dialogue: I and You: a title that could not be more fitting for this dream team. The 92-year-old Gubaidulina is the grande dame among contemporary composers. Her music appeals directly to everyone – even those who are not avid avant-garde fans. The rehearsal will begin with Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, which is full of dry humour but already opens a window to Romanticism as well. You can look forward to a portrait of the most famous womanizer of all time that burns with energy in Richard Strauss’s Don Juan: a profusion of instrumental colours and a showpiece of the art of seduction.
Sun, 4 February 2024 3:30 pm Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music” - Rendezvous with Janne Saksala
The world is that simple: “There’s no music without bass,” Janne Saksala is convinced. And in fact, the bass part is the solid ground on which musical masterworks are built. The native of Finland, who was born in 1967, joined the Berliner Philharmoniker as principal double bass thirty years ago, on 1 September 1994. Since then, his phenomenal playing and distinctive appearance have been part of the unmistakable (sound) image of the orchestra. During his anniversary year, we would like to introduce this musician and his instrument to you in more detail. You will be amazed at everything that is possible on the double bass and learn what special challenges the lowest member of the string family presents. But naturally, we will also speak with Janne Saksala about his homeland, which plays such an important role in classical music. He will also talk about his passion for jazz and world music: an unorthodox Philharmoniker.
Sun, 30 October 2022 “From the sarabande to the tango”
A dance matinee with Bolero Berlin
They call themselves “The Latin Soul of the Berlin Philharmonic”: the four Philharmonic musicians Raphael Haeger, Esko Laine, Manfred Preis and Martin Stegner, who, together with guitarist Paulo Morello and drummer Daniel “Topo” Gioia, devote themselves to Latin American dance music in the ensemble Bolero Berlin. In this autumn matinee, they span an entertaining arc from the sarabande, which originated in Mexico, to the waltz and the bolero to the tango. They will perform works by Bach, Ravel and Weill, as well as Carlos Gardel und Astor Piazzolla – in their original forms or in sophisticated arrangements. And of course the musicians themselves will also have their say.
Wed, 14 December 2022, 4:15 pm, Main Auditorium
Dress rehearsal with Christian Thielemann
Sometimes there are combinations of composers and interpreters that one can justifiably call “perfect couples”. With Christian Thielemann, the Berliner among world-class conductors, Richard Wagner probably comes to mind first. Since the beginning of his career, Thielemann has devoted himself heart and soul to the oeuvre of the revolutionary Gesamtkunstwerk composer, and one must say that his Wagner simply sounds extremely good. He captures the spirit of this music, understands how to produce an overwhelming effect with it. But one could just as well call Thielemann the ideal advocate for Richard Strauss or Hans Pfitzner. You can hear which combination deserves the honour and how Thielemann works magic during this dress rehearsal. It combines Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal with the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss, introduces orchestral music from Pfitzner’s Palestrina and closes with a Bach arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg.
Sun, 29 January 2023, 3:30 pm, Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music” Rendezvous with Stefan Dohr
Stefan Dohr celebrates an anniversary in 2023: the native of Münster will then have been principal horn of the Berliner Philharmoniker for 30 years. He has had a considerable influence on the orchestra’s sound during these three decades with his consummate playing. But Stefan Dohr has also made musical history, since we have him to thank for numerous new works that were composed expressly for him: horn concertos by Toshio Hosokawa, Wolfgang Rihm and Hans Abrahamsen, for example. It’s amazing that, in addition to all his international engagements, he still found time to devote himself to the Philharmoniker as a member of the Orchestra Board for two terms. In short: Stefan Dohr has a lot to say about music and the inner workings of the orchestra. The perfect candidate for a Rendezvous.
Sun, 12 March 2023 “Music must come from the heart”
A matinee for Rachmaninoff’s 150th birthday
Sergei Rachmaninoff was born 150 years ago, on 1 April 1873. He quickly rose to legendary fame as a pianist and also thrilled Berliner Philharmoniker audiences with his virtuosity when he performed his Second, Third and Fourth Piano Concertos with the orchestra between 1908 and 1930. He was often described as reactionary as a composer, however: a much too late Romanticist who didn’t understand the signs of the times. Only during the past few years, after the ideological divides between avant-garde and tradition closed, did Rachmaninoff’s music finally earn its well-deserved recognition. Who else was capable of writing such enchanting, endless melodies in the 20th century? Naturally they are veiled in melancholy and reminiscent of a musical farewell. No wonder: Rachmaninoff knew that he lived in apocalyptic times and that the world as he knew and loved it would change. During this musical-literary birthday matinee, we remember this great artist and present him with chamber music works.
Sun, 16 April 2023, 3:30 pm, Chamber Music Hall
“Let’s talk about music”
The “hip” Philharmoniker
When you hear the word “hip”, you probably first think of something fashionable, something that is particularly trendy at the moment. In music, however, the three letters stand for “historically informed performance”, that is, the original sound movement which has also taken hold in the symphonic repertoire since the 1960s and 1970s. The Berliner Philharmoniker also took up this trend with conductors such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, John Eliot Gardiner and William Christie at the helm. And long-standing partnerships have even resulted with some of them, such as with the French maestra Emmanuelle Haïm, who returns to the orchestra in March 2023 with Handel’s oratorio Il trionfo del tempo. Not to mention that even many “traditional” conducting stars have benefited from the achievements of historically informed playing. In this panel discussion, we want to explore with orchestra members how much original sound there can be: where are the opportunities, where are the limits?
Wed, 10 May 2023, 4:15 pm, Main Auditorium
Dress rehearsal with Gustavo Dudamel
The Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel is a bundle of energy – and completely in his element with the music on this programme. For his three concerts in May 2023, he brings a new work by the Mexican composer Gabriela Ortíz, born in 1964, which combines contemporary techniques with Afro-Cuban influences. He presents the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, who died in 1983 and – like Béla Bartók in Hungary – augmented his modern tonal idiom with folk elements from his homeland. And, as the main work of this concert, Dudamel also conducts the Second Symphony by the unconventional American Charles Ives, who combined the central European tradition from Bach to Wagner with music from his own environment: anthems, hymns and marches. A musical melting pot!
Sun, 25 June 2023 “How powerful your magic sound is!”
A flute matinee with Emmanuel Pahud
“Such a flute is worth more than gold and crowns, for it increases human happiness and contentment,” it says in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, perhaps the most wonderful homage to the instrument. It is strange, however, that Mozart distanced himself from the flute. That is what he told his father Leopold, at any rate, when he was supposed to compose a set of flute quartets for a German doctor and amateur flutist in 1777 but didn’t make much progress with the work. “You know that I become quite powerless whenever I am obliged to write for an instrument which I cannot bear,” Mozart wrote in defence of his dawdling. If he had known Emmanuel Pahud, the works would surely have flowed effortlessly from his pen. The long-time principal flute of the Berliner Philharmoniker will perform three flute quartets by Mozart with violinist Maja Avramović, violist Joaquín Riquelme García and cellist David Riniker – and provide information about Mozart’s supposed aversion to the flute during a discussion.
Sun 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.
Sat 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.
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.
Wed 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.
Sun 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.
16 January 2021, 15:00, Chamber Music Hall – “Let's talk about music”.
What happens in an orchestra rehearsal?
Anyone who attends a concert knows, of course, that a series of rehearsals precede the result and experience of the evening. But what actually happens in the orchestra's secretive workshop is known to only a few – at best through a few famous anecdotes about rehearsal sourpusses and rehearsal fanatics among conductors. Reason enough to ask three members of the Berliner Philharmoniker about the everyday reality of the intensive and often exhausting rehearsal work. Is it loud or harmonic? How popular are talkative conductors with the musicians? Do they bury themselves in details, or do they look for the big picture? And: who actually has the last word? We will explore these aspects in a discussion with historical and current rehearsal documents.
6 March 2021, 15:30, Hermann Wolff Hall – “Let's talk about music”.
Rendezvous with Emmanuel Pahud
In the third round of our “Rendezvous” series with philharmonic soloists, a wind player will be our guest for the first time: the patrons and sponsors in the circle of friends can look forward to a Saturday afternoon with the flutist Emmanuel Pahud. Music lovers all over the world know and admire the magical sounds that the Geneva-born flutist, who joined the orchestra in 1993 as a very young man, is able to elicit from his instrument. Emmanuel Pahud is also a witty conversationalist who knows how to talk about music with wit and esprit. Of course, he will also talk about his life and give an insight into his everyday life.
21 April 2021, 16:15, Philharmonie
Rehearsal visit for 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: Power and a firm grip to hold one's own against the omnipresent orchestra in this disguised symphony; 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 sing on the keys. The American pianist Yefim Bronfman has all these good gifts and will demonstrate his mastery in this rehearsal. He will be joined by the Finnish conductor Mikko Franck, who will interpret a work from his homeland in the second part: the Fifth Symphony by Jean Sibelius with its hymn-like finale.
20 June 2021 “What the Angels Play in Heaven ...”
A harp matinee
The harp is one of the oldest instruments of all. The biblical story of David, whose heavenly harp playing was even able to brighten the mood of the depressed King Saul, tells of this. Perhaps this is why the harp became a popular attribute in the depiction of angels, right up to Ludwig Thomas' “Munich in Heaven”. It is certain that the harp is one of the heaviest instruments of all – it weighs 35 to 40 kilos. It is undoubtedly one of the most decorative. And what a lot of musical things can be done with it! It can produce arpeggios, glissandi and harmonics, evoke the sound of the wind or the trickling of water with magical sounds. The philharmonic Marie-Pierre Langlamet will present all facets of her harp at this matinee: an instrument of unlimited possibilities.
Sun, 31 October 2021 “I am an eclectic”.
A Saint-Saëns matinee on the 100th anniversary of his death
Everyone knows his Carnival of the Animals. Yet Camille Saint-Saëns had composed this witty “zoological fantasy” only 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. There is still much to discover there: Saint-Saëns produced real treasures especially in the field of chamber music - no wonder, 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: “Passionately, I love freedom.” This matinee, which is intended to honour Saint-Saëns, who died on 16 December 1921, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, presents some of his most beautiful compositions for ensemble and duo instrumentation. And introduces us to his turbulent life.
Wed, 15 December 2021, 16.15, Philharmonie, Great Hall
Visit to the main rehearsal with Zubin Mehta
This anniversary must be celebrated! On 18 September 1961, no less than sixty years ago, Zubin Mehta conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time. This makes him - even ahead of Daniel Barenboim - the longest-serving maestro who is still actively associated with the orchestra today. Six decades of collaboration are an unimaginably long time in musical life. When the then 25-year-old Mehta introduced himself on the podium in Berlin, the Philharmonie had not even been built yet. Since then, he has conducted around 175 philharmonic concerts and experienced three generations of orchestras. It is no wonder 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 director 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 main rehearsal, when Mehta rehearses Mahler's Second Symphony with the Philharmonic.
3 November 2019
70 Years of the Friends of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
An anniversary matinee
Hard to believe: the “Friends” are turning 70! This must be celebrated! The first matinee of the 2019/20 season is therefore dedicated to our own history. Christina Stresemann, presiding judge at the Federal Court of Justice and deputy chairwoman of the “Freunde” board of trustees, will be the laudator, shedding light on the development of the association: It was founded on 5 October 1949, as a major citizens' initiative to enable the construction of the new Philharmonie, but even after this goal was achieved, there is still much good to be done. As the daughter of long-time artistic director Wolfgang Stresemann, Christina Stresemann has a lot to tell. And of course the Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform for our special day, with the First Serenade by Johannes Brahms in the nonet version.
16 February 2020
“True art is stubborn”
A Beethoven Matinee
Another birthday that no one will miss in 2020: 250 years ago Ludwig van Beethoven was born, and he is said to be the “titan” among composers. In fact, everyone can relate to the name Beethoven, even if they have no connection to classical music. For classical music aficionados, however, Beethoven's art is something like the gateway to Elysium. But how well do we really know Beethoven? In this literary-musical Beethoven matinee, we let contemporary witnesses speak who experienced Beethoven themselves and remember him – “a completely untamed personality” Goethe called him. And we will hear works that one does not encounter every day, indeed that one would perhaps not associate with Beethoven at all. How did the master himself put it? “True art is stubborn.”