Performance Thursday, October 2, 2014 | 8 PM

Berliner Philharmoniker

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances is his last major work, a dazzling three-movement orchestral showpiece bursting with color and intense lyricism that weaves threads of Russian Orthodox chant with the harrowing Dies Irae, resulting in a vibrant finale. Stravinsky’s Firebird, the first of the great ballets he wrote for Sergei Diaghilev, is cinematic in its vivid depiction of monsters and infernal dances, and concludes with one of the most thrilling endings in all of music.


  • Berliner Philharmoniker
    Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director and Conductor


  • RACHMANINOFF Symphonic Dances
  • STRAVINSKY The Firebird (complete)

  • Encore:
  • PUCCINI Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours with one intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.



  • Berliner Philharmoniker

    Founded in 1882 as a self-governing body, the Berliner Philharmoniker has long been esteemed as one of the world's greatest orchestras. In 2007, it celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding with a multitude of activities. The 2013-2014 season was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonie, which was designed for the orchestra by architect Hans Scharoun. Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch, and Wilhelm Furtwängler were the principal conductors who left their distinctive mark during the Berliner Philharmoniker's early decades. In 1955, Herbert von Karajan became the orchestra's artistic director and, in the ensuing years, worked with the musicians to develop a unique tonal quality and performing style that made the Berliner Philharmoniker famous all over the world. Claudio Abbado, chief conductor from 1989 to 2002, introduced a new type of programming, with increased emphasis on contemporary works and expanded chamber recital series, as well as performances of operas in concert.

    When Sir Simon Rattle took the orchestra's helm in September 2002, he initiated the Education Program to ensure that the Berliner Philharmoniker reached a wider, younger audience. In November 2007, the orchestra and Mr. Rattle were appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, marking the first time an artistic ensemble had represented the international children's organization. The Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation is generously supported by its principal sponsor, Deutsche Bank. In January 2009, the orchestra launched its innovative Digital Concert Hall, which broadcasts the orchestra's concerts live worldwide over the internet. In May 2014, the Berliner Philharmoniker launched its own in-house label, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings.

    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. In 1980, following his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, he was appointed principal conductor and artistic adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He became the orchestra's music director in 1990 and remained with the ensemble until 1998. He has been principal guest conductor of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment since 1992, and works with leading orchestras throughout Europe and the US that include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

    As a concert and opera conductor, Mr. Rattle's repertoire ranges from Baroque to contemporary music. Even before taking up his post as chief conductor, Mr. Rattle had worked regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker for more than 15 years. His debut with the ensemble took place in 1987 with a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 6, and he has since made numerous award-winning recordings with the orchestra.

    One of Mr. Rattle's special passions is to bring the work and music of the Berliner Philharmoniker to young people from different social and cultural backgrounds. To this end, he created the Education Program, with which the orchestra has broken new ground in the field of music education. Knighted in 1994 by the Queen of England, Mr. Rattle has won many awards for his commitment to outreach as well as his artistic work. In 2009, he was awarded the Spanish Premio Don Juan de Borbón de la Música, the Gloria Artis gold medal from the Polish Ministry of Culture, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, he was awarded a knighthood in the French Legion of Honour in 2010, and in February 2013, he was earned the Léonie Sonning Music Prize from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation in Copenhagen.

    More Info


Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances (Lento assai)
Berliner Philharmoniker | Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor

At a Glance

The two masterpieces of Russian Romanticism on this program represent the perspectives of a restless young artist and a wistful older one. Stravinsky was in his 20s and at the beginning of his career when he wrote The Firebird in 1910, his first big hit and a summation of the Rimsky-Korsakov tradition with which he grew up. Within two years, he had launched the modernism that swept away the world of The Firebird in the sardonic asperities of Petrushka and the violent primitivism of The Rite of Spring. Rachmaninoff, on the other hand, was at the end of his career when he wrote the Symphonic Dances in 1940; they represent the coda of a 19th-century aesthetic he championed throughout his life, carrying it to America when he immigrated and ensuring—to the chagrin of the modernists—that it remained stubbornly popular. Rachmaninoff stayed true to the old Russia that Stravinsky abandoned; the Symphonic Dances evoke a haunting nostalgia for a lost era, while The Firebird projects an endless freshness and sense of possibility, looking forward to a new world even as it celebrates an older one.
Program Notes
The Carnegie Hall presentations of the Berliner Philharmoniker are made possible by a leadership gift from Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.
This performance is part of International Festival of Orchestras III.