In December 1976, the Swedish-American conductor Herbert Blomstedt made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker – together with the then 20-year-old pianist Krystian Zimerman. Press attention focused primarily on the newly crowned winner of the Chopin Competition, however Blomstedt’s qualities as a conductor did not go unmentioned: the tenor of the reviews was that he impressed with his enthusiasm and conviction. Blomstedt, who during his career has been chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig among others, has been invited to appear with the Berliner Philharmoniker time and time again. In recent years, the association between conductor and orchestra has intensified, and almost every year he takes to the conductor’s stand in the Philharmonie. Until now, he has been heard primarily as an interpreter of Anton Bruckner, whose works have inspired Blomstedt since he was 13 years of age. This time however, he is performing Beethoven's Missa solemnis for the first time with the Philharmoniker and the Bavarian Radio Chorus.
Like Herbert Blomstedt, Mariss Jansons also made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1976. However, he had already conducted the orchestra once before, five years earlier: as one of the winners in the final concert of the Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition. Although he “only” won a second prize, even then he made a “mature impression” on the critics. Particularly since 1988, the Latvian, who is current artistic director of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, has been a frequent and regular guest of the Philharmoniker. His performances are characterized by unusual programming, and they usually contain at least one piece by composers from northern and eastern Europe. In particular, the works of Dmitri Shostakovich were and are very dear to him. In 2010 and 2012, Mariss Jansons appeared at Musikfest Berlin, and on the occasion of the state visit to Berlin by Her Majesty Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands, he performed with his Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Philharmonie. This month he is back on the podium of the Berliner Phlharmoniker with a purely Czech programme: Bedřich Smetana's overture to The Bartered Bride, Bohuslav Martinů’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with Frank Peter Zimmermann as the soloist, and Antonín Dvořáks Ninth Symphony.
After the two “old masters” Herbert Blomstedt and Mariss Jansons comes a philharmonic “youngster”: Yannick Nézet-Séguin. At only 37, the Canadian, a pupil of Carlo Maria Giulini, can already look back on a remarkable career: He is the artistic director of the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal, music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and music director designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The young conductor also receives repeat invitations to conduct top international orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Orchestre National de France, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and from major opera houses such as the New York Met and La Scala in Milan. On 21 October 2010, he introduced himself to the Berliner Phlharmoniker with works by Olivier Messiaen, Sergei Prokofiev and Hector Berlioz. For his second appearance he has chosen a programme which includes Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy-Overture Romeo and Juliet and Maurice Ravel’s ballet music Daphnis et Chloé.
Almost simultaneously with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Andris Nelsons made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker on 14 October 2010. With his programme – Alban Berg's Violin Concerto and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony – the offspring of a Latvian family of musicians showed himself to be a worthy student of Mariss Jansons. “Grandiose” and “sensational” was how the press described his interpretation of these works. It is no surprise that the orchestra has already invited him to conduct three times since then, and this month he has been secured as a replacement for Seiji Ozawa who has had to cancel due to illness. In the Philharmonie, Andris Nelsons who is currently music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and one of the most internationally sought-after conductors of his generation, conducts lieder from Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Matthias Goerne as the soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. He will also present the latter work at the Waldbühne concert, whose programme this year features the Russian composer.