Berliner Philharmoniker

“The remarkable thing about the Berliner Philharmoniker is the ability and the courage of each individual musician, whether solo wind or tutti string player, to exude such great freedom while playing. A freedom which keeps the entire structure in view at all times, a controlled risk in which the overall coherence does not begin to falter but which nevertheless allows a complete unleashing during the performance.” Kirill Petrenko about the Berliner Philharmoniker (2006)
A group of orchestra members playing in seated at music stands with a conductor on a podium.

The Berliner Philharmoniker, founded in 1882 as a self-governing orchestra, has long been one of the world’s leading orchestras.  

In the first decades, Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch and Wilhelm Furtwängler were the defining chief conductors, followed by Herbert von Karajan in 1955. He developed a unique sound aesthetic and playing culture with the Berliner Philharmoniker that made the orchestra famous worldwide. In 1967, Karajan founded the Berliner Philharmoniker Easter Festival, which has been held in Baden-Baden since 2013.  

As chief conductor from 1989 to 2002, Claudio Abbado placed new emphasis on concert programming, especially with contemporary compositions. From 2002 to 2018, Sir Simon Rattle continued to expand the repertoire and establish innovative concert formats.  

In 2009, the video platform Digital Concert Hall was launched, where the concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker are broadcast live and offered as recordings in a video archive. In 2014, the Berliner Philharmoniker founded their own label: Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings. 

Kirill Petrenko has been chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2019. The Classical-Romantic repertoire, Russian music and unjustly forgotten composers are the first programmatic focal points of his tenure. Another important aspect for Kirill Petrenko is the Berliner Philharmoniker’s education programme, with which the orchestra reaches out to new audiences.  The Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation is supported by the State of Berlin and the German Federal Government, as well as by the generous support of Deutsche Bank as their main sponsor.