Image: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, German orchestra led by some of the most renowned conductors of the 19th and 20th centuries. The orchestra has its origins in the Bilsesche Kapelle, an orchestra formed by German conductor Benjamin Bilse in 1867. This orchestra contained 70 professional musicians in 1882 when 54 members left to form the Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of German conductor Franz Wllner. Soon after, the orchestra changed its name to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Hungarian violinist and composer Joseph Joachim replaced Wllner as conductor in 1884. He was succeeded by German pianist and composer Hans von Blow in 1887. The orchestra`s guest conductors in the 19th century included Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms of Germany, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky of Russia, and Edvard Grieg of Norway.

From 1895 to 1922

From 1895 to 1922, the Berlin Philharmonic gained worldwide recognition as a leading ensemble under the direction of Hungarian German conductor Artur Nikisch, who led the orchestra on several international tours. In 1922 German composer Wilhelm Furtwngler became conductor and won a municipal subsidy for the orchestra in return for performing 20 annual concerts. During World War II (1939-1945) bombs dropped by the Allied Powers destroyed the orchestra`s home, the Philharmonie. Despite this setback, the Berlin Philharmonic continued to give concerts in several different locations, including the Beethoven Hall, the Admiralpalast, and the Titaniapalast. Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache directed the orchestra from 1945 until his death in 1954. He was succeeded by Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, who in 1963 conducted the first concert in the new Philharmonie concert hall. Karajan conducted the orchestra until three months before his death in 1989. He was succeeded by Italian conductor Claudio Abbado. In 1999 English conductor Sir Simon Rattle was appointed to succeed Abbado at the beginning of the 2002-2003 season.

From its beginning the Berlin Philharmonic

From its beginning the Berlin Philharmonic has maintained a reputation for a rich and polished sound, playing with unusual precision and unity for an ensemble. It has made many esteemed recordings under all its conductors since Nikisch, and with many guest conductors as well. Its members enjoy a high status in Berlin society.

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