It’s now summer break in the Berlin Philharmonie until the end of August – but not in the Digital Concert Hall, which will add to its archive over the coming weeks to include concert recordings from the recent and not too distant history of the Berliner Philharmoniker. All recordings are television productions of memorable and sometimes even historically significant concert events.

Sergiu Celibidache and Lorin Maazel

One such example is the return after 38 years of Sergiu Celibidache to the desk of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The Romanian conductor took over the reins of the orchestra in October 1945 while Wilhelm Furtwängler was undergoing denazification, a partnership which came to an end as a result of disagreements in November 1954. In 1992, he was asked by the then German Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker to conduct a benefit concert for children’s homes in Romania. Celibidache was 80 years of age and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. By then, he was considered one of the most important Bruckner interpreters of his time. So he included one of the composer’s works in this concert programme: the Seventh Symphony, which the conductor and orchestra celebrated with Celibidache’s famous slow tempos. Another magical musical moment is documented in the recording of the Ring Without Words conducted by Lorin Maazel, who was not only a talented conductor but also a respectable composer. For the concert hall, he had arranged an 83-minute orchestral version of the entire Ring des Nibelungen, from the first note of Rheingold through to the final chord of Götterdämmerung, a symphonic whirlwind tour through the four operas of Wagner’s masterpiece.

European Concerts in Krakow, Lisbon and Naples

Since 1991, the Berliner Philharmoniker has commemorated the founding of the Berliner Philharmonisches Orchester on 1 May 1882 with their annual European Concert on 1 May. The concert takes place in a different culturally and historically significant place in Europe every year and is broadcast on radio and television stations worldwide. The archive of the Digital Concert Hall already contains a series of European concerts to which the following three are now added: In 1999, the orchestra made a guest appearance with conductor Bernard Haitink in the Marienkirche in Krakow. In addition to Exsultate, jubilate and the Et Incarnatus est from the C Minor Mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (soloist: Christine Schäfer), the programme includes the Second Piano Concerto by Chopin (soloist Emanuel Ax) and Robert Schumann’s First Symphony. The European Concert of 2003 also took place in a church setting, namely in the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Lisbon. At the helm was Pierre Boulez, a long-time associate of the orchestra, who conducted works by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Béla Bartók. The Portuguese star pianist Maria João Pires also played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, K 466. In 2009, the concert took place in Naples, one of the great centres of Italian opera. Riccardo Muti opened the concert at the Teatro San Carlo with the overture to Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. The mezzo-soprano Violeta Urmana sang La Canzone dei Ricordi by Giuseppe Martucci, and the finale was Franz Schubert’s “Great” C Major Symphony.

Three Waldbühne concerts

Every year, the Philharmoniker brings its concert season to a close with an open-air concert at the Berlin Waldbühne. International stars are invited to perform here too, and the programme always has a special theme: Latin America Night was the title of the 1998 concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim. The guitarist John Williams provided some special Latin American flair with Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. The concert in 2003 was an all-Gershwin event with instrumental classics by the American composer such as the Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F. The conductor was Seiji Ozawa and the guest Stars were the musicians of the Marcus Roberts Trio. Fellini, Jazz & Co was the programme concept in 2011. Riccardo Chailly conducted works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Nino Rota and Ottorino Respighi. But regardless of the particular theme, one piece is an absolute must at every concert: Paul Lincke’s rousing popular hit Berliner Luft, which is traditionally played a the end of every Waldbühne concert.