Berlin Philharmonic – Antonín Dvořák, Hugo Wolf, Franz Schubert

Iván Fischer Conductor – Budapest Festival Orchestra

Thursday night was likely my last Berlin Philharmonic performance – at least for a while. The sold-out performance was in Philharmonie Hall where the symphony performed music by Antonín Dvořák, Hugo Wolf, and Franz Schubert.

Berlin Philharmonie Hall – primephonic.com

Dvořák and Schubert have long been favorite composers. I remember trying to conquer a Schubert piece as a young piano student – for me, a daunting experience. Unfamiliar with Wolf, the evening was a lesson in German opera! Goethe’s expression below describes my feelings…

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Poet – Weimar-Lese

Iván Fischer Conductor

Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer led the Philharmonic. Fischer studied piano, violin, and cello in Budapest and continued his education in Vienna. His international career took off in 1976 when he won a conducting competition in London.

In 1983 Fischer co-founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Today he’s the orchestra’s music director. Fischer is a regular guest conductor at major European opera houses. He was Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic 2012 – 2018 and is now the orchestra’s Honorary Conductor.

Iván Fischer Conductor – Hungarian Free Press

Fischer is also a composer. His works are performed in the US and Europe. He founded the Hungarian Mahler Society and received Hungary’s Golden Medal Award and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum for promoting international culture.

Antonín Dvořák Composer

Antonín Dvořák Legends for Orchestra

The concert began with Antonín Dvořák symphonies – Legends for Orchestra. Berlin is  where the Czech composer was first recognized internationally. In 1878, Johannes Brahms recommended publishing his Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances for piano. A few years later he produced Legends for Orchestra.

Christian Gerhaher Baritone – Digital Concert Hall

Hugo Wolf Goethe and Mörike Compositions

Several Hugo Wolf operatic compositions followed Dvořák’s symphonies. Baritone Christian Gerhaher’s singing captivated the audience. Wolf, known for his “profound poetic insight and imagination,” created them from the poems and ballads of German writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Eduard Friedrich Mörike. Portraying their unique “poet personalities” was key to Wolf in “opening musical and poetic horizons” in his compositions.

Hugo Wolf Composer – Austria.info

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German poet Eduard Friedrich Mörike is known for taking “special pleasure in rendering hair-raising and fantastic verses”.

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Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances – Shazam

Wish I’d had a translation, as titles of the lyrics were interesting – Goethe’s ballads – Der Rattenfänger (The Pied Piper) and Mörike’s Fire Rider. Mörike’s lyric poetry covers a “variety of forms and moods”. The audience was thoroughly absorbed. It was a very German experience!

Eduard Moerike Poet – Augsburger Allgemeini

Christian Gerhaher Baritone

German baritone Christian Gerhaher appears in Germany and abroad as a recitalist and soloist with symphony orchestras in major cities worldwide. He also appears in opera productions, holds the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, is an honorary professor at the Academy of Music Munich, and teaches international masterclasses. The audience adored his performance of Wolf’s compositions.

Christian Gerhaher Baritone – InstantEncore

Gerhaher attended the Opera School of the Academy of Music in Munich and is an honorary professor at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre. He and his wife live  in Munich with their three children.

Franz Schubert Composer – BR-Klassik

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C Major

The symphony ended with Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C Major. Schubert composed the symphony in 1825-26, but it was never performed. Robert Schumann discovered the symphony in 1839 and German composer Felix Mendelssohn produced the work that year in Leipzig. It’s a wonderful, dramatic symphony featuring woodwinds and French horns – skip to the end of the video below to hear the rousing finale!

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Chamber Music Concert Hall Berlin Philharmonic

Last night I attended a Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the Chamber Music Concert Hall. There were several choices for getting there from my apartment. U-Bahn wasn’t one of them. At night, I’m more confident taking U-Bahn and am a bit leery of walking between connections.

Berlin Symphony

Getting to the Concert Hall

After considering the options, I took the M41 bus to Potsdamer Platz and walked about 10 minutes to the concert hall. It worked out well, even though I initially went in the wrong direction :o( but figured it out and changed course. I learned from the mistake, and the interesting passengers on the bus were helpful. Berlin taxis are plentiful but expensive, not sure if they’re safe. Since I’ll be in Berlin fort awhile, it’s a good idea to get comfortable riding buses and trams as well as the U-Bahn.

Berliner Philharmonie Concert Hall

I’ve been looking forward to the concert after hearing praise for the symphony. Many consider the Berliner Philharmoniker the “world’s greatest orchestra”. The performance was sold out. Paavo Järvi conducted works by composers Witold Lutosławski and Johannes Brahms. The gorgeous concert hall is a theatre-in-the round with stellar acoustics. I had a balcony side seat facing the conductor – a prefect vantage point for watching the orchestra in action.

Witold Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra

Polish composer Witold Lutosławsk’s Concerto for Orchestra is known as “one of the top Polish works of Social Realism”. It’s described as a “rousing concert for orchestra combining the harsh force of Polish folk music with ingenious, futuristic construction”.

Witold Lutosławski Polish Composer

The Concerto has three movements beginning with a solemn introduction featuring “transformed tunes of folk songs”. Critics characterize the second movement as a “syncopated folk tune”. The finale is the longest movement and has a special “dramatic effect through the rise of the sound volume from pianissimo to fortissimo”. It’s a dramatic abstract composition.

Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 for Chamber Ensemble

German composer Johannes Brahms’ Second Symphony was a sharp contrast to Lutoslawski’s composition. He created the symphony during a holiday on Lake Wörthersee, a glacial lake in the Starnberg district of Bavaria. Maybe Brahms got inspiration from the legend of the Origin of Lake Wörthersee, a fascinating folktale.

Johannes Brahms German Composer

Critics describe Symphony No. 2 as having a “pastoral, serenade-like quality with moments of somber severity”. It’s considered the Brahms Symphony “most suitable for a chamber version filled with expressive solos and transparent textures”. The soloists were magnificent.

Johannes Brahms 1866 Photo – Picture-Alliance dpa

The symphony has four movements, allegro non troppoadagio non troppoallegretto grazioso, and allegro con spirito. The rousing finale was spectacular and brought the audience to their feet.

Little Man of Lake Wörth Bavarian Folktale

Paavo Järvi Conductor

Paavo Järvi has been the Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen since 2004. Together with the Berlin Symphony he’s produced popular recordings of works by Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Robert Schumann. Järvi is a masterful conductor!

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“Järvi is a fascinating man to watch in concert. Not only is he a Grammy award-winning conductor but he is also a swift mover on the stage. He remains focused, and incredibly involved in the music.”

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Paavo Järvi Conductor

Paavo Järvi’s Conducting Career and Awards

Järvi’s career began in 1995 as conductor of Stockholm’s Kungliga Filharmoniska Orkestern. Career landmarks include positions with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Frankfurt HR Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his position with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, he’s artistic advisor to the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Järvi Summer Festival in Pärnu, Estonia.

Berlin Chamber Music Concert Hall Theater in the Round

In 2010, Järvi was awarded the ECHO Klassik as Conductor of the Year for his Beethoven interpretation – considered his greatest success. “The CD versions of Beethoven’s nine symphonies and the performances of the complete Beethoven cycle in Tokyo, Yokohama, Lanaudière Quebec, Paris, Strasbourg, Montreal, Bonn, Salzburg, Warsaw, and Sao Paolo sparked a wave of enthusiasm.”

Paavo Järvi Conductor Berlin Philharmonic

Following the Beethoven project, “Järvi and his orchestra worked equally successfully on the symphonic works of Robert Schumann”. The third CD with Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 and the Concert Piece for 4 Horns was awarded the prestigious French Music Prize, the Diapason d’Or. Järvi then focused on the complete Brahms Symphony Cycle winning Germany’s Opus Klassik Award in the category “Symphonic Recording of the Year (music of the 19th century)”.

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“Berlin’s striking pentagonal yellow concert hall was the product of designs by Hans Scharoun. It, along with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the chamber music hall, and the State Library, make up Berlin’s Kulturforum.

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Berlin Symphony Pipe Organ

Beginning with the 2019/20 season Paavo Järvi will become the new Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. He’s absolutely mesmerizing, a phenomenal conductor!

The Brahms piece was my favorite – it was magnificent. The audience wasn’t shy about acknowledging the talented musicians and conductor with enthusiastic applause. The performance was thrilling and made for a memorable evening in Berlin!