Marek Janowski and Herbert Blomstedt

At the conductor’s desk of the Berliner Philharmoniker

Marek Janowski
(Photo: Felix Broede)

Marek Janowski, who was born in Warsaw and grew up in Germany, is associated in the minds of Berlin audiences with one orchestra in particular: the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, whose chief conductor he was between was between 2002-2016. Less well-known, however, is his work together with the Berliner Philharmoniker, with whom Janowski made his debut in 1976 at the age of 37.

Debut with Mozart, Weber and Mendelssohn

The then chief conductor of the Dortmunder Philharmoniker introduced himself as a compelling interpreter of the First Viennese School and German Romanticism with works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carl Maria von Weber and Felix Mendelssohn. The Classical-Romantic repertoire also served him for his next concerts. His most recent appearance with the orchestra was in June 1994, when he conducted Haydn’s Symphony no. 87, Carl Maria von Weber’s Bassoon Concerto and the Second Symphony of Robert Schumann. Marek Janowski now returns to the Berliner Philharmoniker after an absence of more than 20 years: Standing in for an indisposed Riccardo Chailly, he will conduct the performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s equally monumental and emotional Messa da Requiem which he has already performed at the Philharmonie with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in 2015 and impressed both audiences and critics alike with his equally gripping and unsentimental reading of the work. At that time he revealed in an interview that he was conducting this composition for only the second time in his long career.

Herbert Blomstedt - a great love for Brahms

In the same year as Marek Janowski, the Swedish-American conductor Herbert Blomstedt made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker – together with the then 20-year-old pianist Krystian Zimerman. Although press attention focused primarily on the newly crowned winner of the Chopin Competition, Blomstedt’s own 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, among others, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, 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 he takes to the conductor’s stand in the Philharmonie almost every year. His motto: “Respect for the musical score is a top priority for any artist.” Herbert Blomstedt is regarded as a specialist in the symphonies of Anton Bruckner which also form the focus of his collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker. As the conductor said in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall, “Bruckner's symphonies are no village churches, but cathedrals.” For his most recent appearance in January 2015, Herbert Blomstedt and the Berliner Philharmoniker performed the composer’s Eighth Symphony in the version by Robert Haas. He now conducts two works that he has never performed before with the orchestra: Béla Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto with Sir András Schiff as the soloist, and Johannes Brahms’ First Symphony. The conductor discovered his love for the late Romantic composer when he was still in his youth. He has now been performing Brahms’ works for more than six decades. In recognition of this, he will be awarded the Brahms Prize in June 2017.

Herbert Blomstedt
(Photo: Martin U.K. Lengemann)

The conductors in the Digital Concert Hall