Performance Friday, February 24, 2012 | 8 PM

Berliner Philharmoniker

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage with Walter Frisch, Professor of Music, Columbia University.

Anton Bruckner was working on his Ninth Symphony until the day he died in 1896, but never completed the work he had dedicated to “the Almighty God.” Deeply spiritual in conception, Bruckner’s Ninth is grand, sweeping Romantic music, filled with triumphant brass chorales and poignant lyricism.


  • Berliner Philharmoniker
    Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director and Conductor


  • BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 (completed performance edition by Samale-Phillips-Cohrs-Mazzuca (rev. 2011))



    Berliner Philharmoniker

    The Berliner Philharmoniker, founded in 1882 as a self-governing body, has long been considered one of the world's finest orchestras. Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch, and Wilhelm Furtwängler were the principal conductors who each left their distinctive mark in the early decades. In 1955, Herbert von Karajan became artistic director and, in the ensuing years, worked with the orchestra to develop a unique tonal quality and performing style that made the Berliner Philharmoniker famous all over the world. Claudio Abbado, chief conductor from 1990 to 2002, devised a new type of program characterized primarily by contemporary works, an increased number of chamber recitals, and concert performances of operas. Sir Simon Rattle took the helm in September 2002.

    The orchestra's change of status to a charitable foundation (the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker) has created new opportunities and ensured its economic future. Central to this support is the orchestra's Education Program, which was set up at the time of Mr. Rattle's appointment and which is intended to ensure that the orchestra reaches a broader-and above all, younger-audience. In November 2007, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Mr. Rattle were appointed international Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF. Thanks to the support of its long-time partner Deutsche Bank, the Berliner Philharmoniker was enabled to start an innovative project in January 2009: the Digital Concert Hall, which broadcasts the orchestra's concerts worldwide live via the internet.

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Born in Liverpool in 1955, Sir Simon Rattle has been chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonie since September 2002. He was 25 when, following his studies at London's Royal Academy of Music, he began his close association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), initially as principal conductor and artistic adviser, then-up until the 1998 season-as its musical director. His tireless work and visionary artistic projects helped to turn the CBSO into one of the world's top-ranking orchestras.

    In the concert hall and opera house, Mr. Rattle's extensive repertoire covers compositions that range from the Baroque era to contemporary music. Rattle is also principal guest conductor of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and works with leading orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic. Even before taking up his post as principal conductor, Mr. Rattle had already collaborated regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker for 15 years. Of the many recordings he has made with the orchestra, several have received prestigious awards. All of these releases were recorded live at the Philharmonie.

    One of Mr. Rattle's special passions is to bring the work and music of the Berliner Philharmoniker to young people of the most diverse social and cultural backgrounds. To that end, he has established the Education Program, which enables the orchestra to pursue new approaches to promulgating its music. Knighted by the Queen of England in 1994, Mr. Rattle was awarded many prizes for his commitment to outreach work: 2009 brought him the Spanish Premio Don Juan de Borbón de la Música, the Gloria Artis gold medal from the Polish Ministry of Culture Warsaw, and the German Federal Cross of Merit. In June 2010, Mr. Rattle was awarded a knighthood in the French Legion of Honor.



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Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage with Walter Frisch, Professor of Music, Columbia University.


Bruckner Symphony No. 9 (Adagio)
Berliner Philharmoniker; Herbert von Karajan, Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

About the Edition

The Bruckner Ninth Symphony we have come to know is not what its composer intended it to be.

The 1903 premiere of the first three movements, needing to establish the validity of an unfinished work, claimed it to be “complete in three movements,” maintaining that nothing could surpass the sublimeness of its Adagio. Bruckner was said to have been uncertain about, or unable to complete, a fourth movement, leaving only “scant sketches,” and “pathetic relics.”

These are blatant mistruths, unthinkingly promulgated thousands of times over by musicologists and music critics ever since. When I came to re-examine the 440 pages(!) of surviving original manuscripts in Vienna in the late 1980s, it became obvious that Bruckner had not only extensively sketched a fourth movement, but he had left a definitive full score that originally extended well into the final section of the movement. Each element of its complex design had been revised and fine-tuned, the first third fully orchestrated; even for the coda, extensive sketches survive dated May 1896—five months before his death.

So Bruckner left the movement very largely complete. However, a number of the manuscript sheets were taken by autograph hunters after his death. Some have re-emerged (only in 2003 was a missing page made available in photocopy). But in most all cases, Bruckner’s preliminary sketches enabled us to reconstruct an accurate picture of the musical continuity, and the fully orchestrated sections showed clearly how Bruckner intended it to sound.

This research led the authoritative Bruckner Complete Edition to publish a reconstruction of Bruckner’s score and a facsimile edition of the manuscripts, and in 1999 brought about the first performance in Vienna of the surviving torso of the movement under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Edited in collaboration with Italian colleague Nicola Samale, who had begun working on a reconstruction of the movement with Giuseppe Mazzuca in 1983, and German colleague Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, the present version of the reconstructed Finale was premiered in Linz, Austria, in 1991. Since then, it has been exhaustively fine-tuned in multiple revisions, documented in over 50 performances and CD releases.

Tonight marks the American premiere of the score in what we regard as its definitive form.

The Finale is no musical curiosity, but an integral part of the work as its composer intended. Just as Beethoven designed his last symphony around its choral finale, Bruckner designed his Ninth around this huge, ultimately triumphant movement, synthesising sonata form, fugue, and chorale. For the devoutly Catholic Bruckner, the symphony was to be his “homage to Divine majesty,” an agenda reflected in a number of component themes: awe and fear before the majesty of God, retrospective and farewell, religious ecstasy, abasement, judgement, and salvation. The Adagio, his “Farewell to Life,” traces a gradual process of dissolution that leads us, spellbound, into the enigmatic music of the Finale, a continual series of harmonic ambiguities, music in a kind of “plasma state.” The movement can be thought of as a kind of purgatory, charting the progress of the soul after death, the record of an encounter with the minatory as well as redemptive force of the Divine. Bruckner explained that it would end with a “song of praise to the dear Lord,” a “Hallelujah” borrowed from earlier in the work. And it is with this “Hallelujah” theme—the first entry of the trumpets in the Adagio—that the Ninth can so justly and so gloriously now conclude.

—John Phillips

Program Notes



Sir Simon Rattle and Jeremy Geffen introduce Bruckner's Symphony No. 9

The Carnegie Hall presentations of the Berliner Philharmoniker are made possible by a leadership gift from the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.

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