Benjamin Bilse formed the Bilsesche Kapelle (1867), which by 1882 numbered 70 professional musicians, of whom 54 then left to organize the Philharmonische Orchester, promoted by the impresario Hermann Wolf and directed by Franz Wüllner. This later became the Berlin PO. Joachim was appointed conductor (1884) and was succeeded by Bülow (1887); early guest conductors included Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Brahms.
Interior of the old Philharmonie: engraving by Emil Ost, 1889The orchestra became the finest in Berlin with a large and varied repertory; under Arthur Nikisch (1895–1922) it made several international tours and gained a reputation which was solidified by his successor, Wilhelm Furtwängler (1922–45). Furtwängler acquired a municipal subsidy, for which the orchestra had to give 20 popular annual concerts. After the destruction (1944) of its concert hall, the Philharmonie (fig.1), the orchestra played in the cathedral, the Beethovenhalle, the Admiralspalast (now the Metropol-Theater) and the Titania-Palast (a converted cinema). The last concert before the fall of the city was on 15 April 1945 but concerts began again as early as 26 May 1945 at the Titania-Palast, conducted by Leo Borchard. After Borchard’s death (1945) the young Romanian Sergiu Celibidache came from the Hochschule für Musik to direct the orchestra. In 1947 Furtwängler returned to the orchestra and was appointed chief conductor for life in 1952. He was succeeded on his death (1954) by Herbert von Karajan, who until shortly before his death in 1989 maintained the ensemble as one of the major international orchestras, with a repertory primarily from the late 18th century to the early 20th. He conducted in the new concert hall of the Hochschule für Musik until 15 October 1963, when the orchestra moved into the new Philharmonie by the Tiergarten in the Kemperplatz: it was designed by Hans Scharoun, and is Berlin’s largest concert hall (capacity 2440). Claudio Abbado was appointed chief conductor in 1990. He was succeeded by Simon Rattle, as chief conductor and artistic director (effective from 2002). After a protracted struggle with the city’s government, in 2001 Rattle won his campaign to have the orchestra transformed into a self-governing foundation, allowing for better pay and greater financial and artistic control.
Found in 1 Collection or Record:
The papers of composer/conductor Jean Martinon consist of materials created by Martinon himself (including published and unpublished manuscript scores and arrangements of compositions written between 1935 and 1975), and biographical and other materials produced or collected by the Jean Martinon Society and the Association Jean Martinon.