Preview: Concert marks 125 years of Berlin Philharmonic
Apr 30, 2007, 15:35 GMT
Berlin - A May Day concert in Berlin conducted by Sir Simon Rattle marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of one of the world's top orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic.
Under the British conductor since 2002, the German orchestra has escaped from the long shadow of its legendary chiefs Wilhelm Furtwaengler and Herbert von Karajan, increasing the fraction of modern music in the repertoire.
The Philharmonic, which is largely self-governing, has also taken on educational tasks for children and young people in a subtle shift away from its previous focus on discriminating music-lover audiences.
Pamela Rosenberg, the orchestra's chief executive who previously ran the San Francisco Opera, arrived with Rattle and has been a breath of fresh air: her aim is to bring all sections of society into the concerts.
The documentary movie, Rhythm Is It!, showing the orchestra rehearsing under Rattle for a ballet performed by young immigrants from 25 nations, has been shown around the world.
Traditional music lovers and elite music critics have expressed discomfort at the new direction, but the Philharmonic's concerts are fully booked months ahead and sales of CD recordings are brisk.
The orchestra had its roots in a revolt by poorly paid musicians against Benjamin Bilse, a Berlin director and impresario. They formed the 'Former Bilse Orchestra' on May 1, 1882 and the Philharmonic evolved from this.
The May 1 matinee concert of works by Wagner and Brahms, to be televised live in Germany, will be performed in a former factory, the Kabelwerk Oberspree. The industrial heritage building has been converted to an auditorium.
Full-scale anniversary celebrations are set to take place this November.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur