Berliner Philharmoniker

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

In the orchestra’s first decades, Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch and Wilhelm Furtwängler were defining chief conductors, followed by Herbert von Karajan beginning 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, on which the concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker are broadcast live and offered as recordings in a video archive. In 2014, the Berliner Philharmoniker founded its 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 have been the first programmatic focal points of his tenure. Another important aspect for Petrenko is the Berliner Philharmoniker’s education program, through which the orchestra reaches out to new audiences.

As a musical ambassador, the Berliner Philharmoniker supports UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe in its commitment to helping refugees build safer, brighter futures. International refugee protection is at the heart of the work of UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, the national partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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 its main sponsor.

October 2022

Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.