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May 2007 - Nr.


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Berlin Philharmonics 125th
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Physicist Von Weizsäcker Died
Powerhouse in Solar
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Wind Energy Grows Fast
Brighter Future for Germans
Bunker Attraction

Berlin Philharmonic Celebrates 125th Anniversary

   TWIG - A May Day concert in Berlin conducted by Sir Simon Rattle marked the 125th anniversary of the founding of one of the world's top orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic.

Under British conductor Sir Simon Rattle since 2002, the German orchestra has moved on from under the wing of its legendary leaders Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan and increased the amount of modern music in its 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 in Berlin with Rattle and has worked to make the concerts appealing to all sectors of society.

The orchestra's modern approach can also be seen in the May Day concert's venue. The matinee concert of works by Wagner and Brahms, which was televised live in Germany, was performed in a former factory, the Kabelwerk Oberspree. The industrial monument building has been converted into an auditorium.

The documentary movie, "Rhythm Is It!", which has been shown around the globe and features the orchestra rehearsing under Rattle for a ballet performed by young immigrants from 25 nations, was another way the orchestra sought to open itself up to the modern world.

Traditional music lovers and music critics have expressed discomfort at the new direction, but the Philharmonic's concerts are fully booked months in advance and sales of CD recordings, which are hitting shelves more frequently, are brisk.

The orchestra was formed during a revolt by poorly paid musicians once working under Benjamin Bilse, a Berlin director and impresario. They rebelled against him and on May 1, 1882 established the "Former Bilse Orchestra," which later evolved into the capital city's philharmonic orchestra. Full-scale anniversary celebrations for the orchestra are set to take place this November.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


Berlin Philharmonic


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