In memoriam Claudio Abbado

Concert series for the fifth anniversary of the conductor's death

Chamber Orchestra of Europe
(Photo: Julia Wesely)

For the Berliner Philharmoniker Claudio Abbado is the chief conductor who ushered in a new era in the orchestra’s history after the death of Herbert von Karajan. He established a new style of playing and led the orchestra into the 21st century. For a generation of aspiring musicians Claudio Abbado was also an inspiring mentor and founder of new, young orchestras.

“Working with young musicians has always interested me,” he acknowledged in an interview with Die Zeit in 2013. “They very often have a different approach, they are still completely open to the music.” To mark the fifth anniversary of the conductor’s death the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation will honour the memory of the generous supporter of young musicians with an exhibition and a concert series.

Two great chamber orchestras

Two chamber orchestras have been invited whose launch and development are closely associated with Claudio Abbado: the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The two ensembles grew out of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra, which the Italian conductor had founded with the idea of bringing together talented young players from all over Europe.

Abbado worked intensively with the young musicians for many years and generously made his knowledge and artistic experience available to them. In addition, he went on tours and released recordings with both orchestras, drawing the attention of the music world to the then still unknown ensembles. Thanks to the enthusiasm, commitment and passion aroused by Claudio Abbado, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra are among the leading chamber orchestras of our time.

Focus on Mozart

The programmatic focus of the concert series dedicated to Abbado is works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, conducted by Robin Ticciati, will juxtapose Mozart’s lyrical but rhythmically sophisticated “Linz” Symphony with two French works: Gabriel Fauré’s atmospheric orchestral suite Pelléas et Mélisande and Hector Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été, a melancholy farewell to a dying love, sung by Magdalena Kožená. Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 450 and K. 503 will be heard during another concert by the ensemble, along with two works by the American composer Elliott Carter: the Quintet for Piano and Winds, which was inspired by Mozart’s music, and the piano trio Epigrams. The French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard will conduct and perform as soloist.

The appearance of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will be devoted entirely to Viennese Classicism. In addition to Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music, his Piano Concerto K. 466 and G minor Piano Quartet will be presented, both of which the composer wrote in 1785. The Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will perform the solo part in this concert. The programme concludes with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 83, which was nicknamed “La Poule” (The Hen) because of its “clucking” second theme.

In addition to the concerts in memory of Claudio Abbado, an exhibition in the foyer of the Philharmonie will open on 20 January 2019.


Mahler Chamber Orchestra
(Photo: Molina Visuals)
Robin Ticciati
(Photo: Nicholas Eastop)
Magdalena Kožená
(Photo: Oeg Rostovtsev)
Leif Ove Andsnes
(Photo: Gregor Hohenberg)
Pierre-Laurent Aimard
(Photo: Marco Borggreve)