With almost 450 years of tradition, Staatskapelle Berlin is one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Originally founded as court orchestra by Prince-Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg in 1570, and at first solely dedicated to carrying out musical services ...
With almost 450 years of tradition, Staatskapelle Berlin is one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Originally founded as court orchestra by Prince-Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg in 1570, and at first solely dedicated to carrying out musical services for the court, the ensemble expanded its activities with the founding of the Royal Court Opera in 1742 by Frederick the Great. Ever since then, the orchestra has been closely tied to State Opera Unter den Linden.
Many important musicians have conducted the orchestra, both in the opera and in the regular concert series that have been held since 1842: Gaspare Spontini, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Felix von Weingartner, Richard Strauss, Erich Kleiber, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Franz Konwitschny, and Otmar Suitner are just a few of the conductors who have decidedly influenced the instrumental and interpretive culture of Staatskapelle Berlin.
The works of Richard Wagner, who himself conducted the Königlich Preußische Hofkapelle in 1844 at the premiere of his “Flying Dutchman” and in 1876 during the preparations for the Berlin premiere of “Tristan and Isolde”, have represented a pillar of the repertoire of the State Opera and its orchestra for some time.
Since 1992, Daniel Barenboim has served as the orchestra’s general music director, and in 2000 the orchestra voted him as conductor for life.
At numerous guest appearances that have brought the orchestra not only to the great European music centers, but also to Israel, Japan, and China, as well as North and South America, the international top position of the ensemble has proved itself over and over. The performance of all symphonies and piano concertos of Beethoven in Vienna, Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo, and the cycles of symphonies of Schumann and Brahms, the ten-part cycle of all important stage works by Wagner, and the three-part performance of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle in Japan 2002 are some of the most outstanding events of recent years. As part of the State Opera’s FESTTAGE 2007, the symphonies and orchestral songs of Gustav Mahler were performed under the batons of Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez at Berlin’s Philharmonie. This ten-part cycle was also performed in the 2008/2009 season at Vienna’s Musikverein as well as New York’s Carnegie Hall. In 2010 the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim gave sold out concerts in London, Birmingham, Paris, Essen, Dusseldorf, Madrid and Granada. At the beginning of 2011 the Staatskapelle Berlin gave guest performances in Abu Dhabi and in the new opened opera house in Doha. Highlights were also the nine-part Bruckner cycle in Vienna Musikverein in June 2012 as well as a concert performance of Wagner’s Ring in summer 2013 during the “Proms” in London Royal Albert Hall, with Daniel Barenboim conducting.
Concert tours in the recent years led the orchestra to Bucarest, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Milan, Paris, Yerevan, Madrid, Barcelona, Helsinki, Basel and to several German cities. In the season 2015/16 Staatskapelle Berlin was active in Vienna, Luxemburg, Prague and Bonn. In January and February 2016 the orchestra and its General Music Director undertook an extensive concert journey to China and Japan with the complete cycle of Bruckner’s symphonies in Suntory Hall, Tokyo. This highly acclaimed cycle was also performed in January 2017 in New York Carnegie Hall, and in three stages in the new Paris Philharmonie. In the current season 2016/17 Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim are present in London Royal Festival Hall (during the “Proms”), at Lucerne Festival, in Vienna Musikverein and in the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie.
Staatskapelle Berlin was named “Orchestra of the Year” in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008 by the journal Opernwelt, and in 2003 the orchestra was awarded the Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize. A constantly growing number of recordings in both the operatic and symphonic repertoires document the work of the orchestra. Their recording of all the Beethoven symphonies in 2002 was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque, their 2003 recording of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” was awarded a Grammy, and their 2007 live recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 was awarded an Echo Prize. In addition, a DVD production was released of Beethoven’s five piano concertos featuring Daniel Barenboim as both soloist and conductor. Most recently, recordings of several Bruckner symphonies (on CD and DVD), of the piano concertos by Chopin, Liszt and Brahms (with Daniel Barenboim as soloist conducted by Andris Nelsons, Pierre Boulez and Gustavo Dudamel) as well as the cello concertos by Elgar and Carter were released. It followed recordings of Elgar’s Symphonies No. 1 and 2 as well as Strauss’s “Four Last Songs” (with Anna Netrebko) and “A Hero’s Life”, all conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Most recent recordings include the violin concertos by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius (with Lisa Batiashvili) as well a box of the nine Bruckner symphonies (issued on CD by Deutsche Grammophon and by the digital label Peral) conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
In the Orchesterakademie, founded in 1997, young musicians receive the opportunity to gather professional experience in both opera and concert performance. Members of the Staatskapelle are here active as mentors. Furthermore, many musicians volunteer at Musikkindergarten Berlin, founded at the initiative of Daniel Barenboim. In 2010 musicians of Staatskapelle Berlin founded the Stiftung NaturTon e.V. organzising benefit concerts with outstanding artists to support international environment projects.
Beside their performing at the opera performances and in the large symphony concerts, numerous instrumentalists have also dedicated themselves to working in chamber music formations as well as in the ensemble Preußens Hofmusik, which focuses primarily on the Berlin music tradition from the eighteenth century. This rich musical activity can be experienced in several concert series in Berlin. Once a year invite Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim at Berlin Bebelplatz performing an open air concert under the label “Staatsoper for all” for ten thousands of listeners.