With almost 450 years of tradition, the Staatskapelle Berlin is one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Originally founded as a 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, the orchestra has been closely tied to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
Many important musicians have conducted the orchestra: Gaspare Spontini, Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Felix Weingartner, Richard Strauss, Erich Kleiber, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Franz Konwitschny, and Otmar Suitner are just a few of the conductors who have influenced the instrumental and interpretive culture of the Staatskapelle Berlin. The works of Richard Wagner--who himself conducted the Königlich Preußische Hofkapelle in 1844 at the premiere of Der fliegende Holländer and in 1876 during preparations for the Berlin premiere of Tristan und Isolde--have represented a pillar of the repertoire of the Staatsoper and its orchestra for some time.
Daniel Barenboim has served as the orchestra's general music director since 1992, and in 2000 the orchestra voted him chief conductor for life. The orchestra has received acclaim worldwide for its performances in the great European music centers, as well as in Israel, Japan, China, and North and South America. Highlights of recent seasons include performances of the symphonies and piano concertos of Beethoven in Vienna, Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo; cycles of the Schumann and Brahms symphonies; a 10-part cycle of Wagner's stage works; a three-part performance of Wagner's Ring cycle in Japan; and a 10-part cycle of the symphonies and orchestral songs of Mahler. Concert tours in recent years have taken the orchestra to Bucharest, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Helsinki, Basel, Tokyo, Sendai, Osaka, Nagoya, Kawasaki, Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Shanghai.
The 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 Furtwängler Prize. The orchestra's recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies in 2002 was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque; its 2003 recording of Wagner's Tannhäuser won a Grammy Award; and its 2007 live recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 was awarded an Echo Prize. The ensemble's most recent recordings include Elgar's symphonies nos. 1 and 2, Strauss's Four Last Songs (with Anna Netrebko) and Ein Heldenleben, and the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius violin concertos with Lisa Batiashvili, all 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, mentored by members of the Staatskapelle. Furthermore, many musicians volunteer at Musikkindergarten Berlin, an initiative of Daniel Barenboim. Staatskapelle members also dedicate themselves to working in chamber music formations as well as in the ensemble Preußens Hofmusik, which focuses primarily on Berlin's rich musical tradition since the 18th century. Visit staatskapelle-berlin.de for more information.
Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942. He received his first piano lessons from his mother at age five. Later, he studied under his father, who would remain his only piano teacher. At the age of seven, he gave his first public concert in Buenos Aires. In 1952, he moved with his parents to Israel.
Mr. Barenboim made his international debut at age 10 with concerts in Vienna and Rome, followed by performances in Paris in 1955, in London in 1956, and in New York in 1957 under Leopold Stokowski. Since then, he has regularly toured Europe, the US, South America, Australia, and the Far East.
Since making his conducting debut in 1967 in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Mr. Barenboim has been in great demand with leading orchestras around the world. He was principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris from 1975 to 1989, and music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1991 to 2006. Upon his departure, the musicians of the orchestra named him honorary conductor for life. Since 1992, Mr. Barenboim has been general music director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. In 2000, the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him chief conductor for life. In the 2007-2008 season, Mr. Barenboim began a close relationship with the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and between 2011 and 2014 was music director of the famous opera house.
In 1999, Mr. Barenboim, together with Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said, established the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. He also initiated a project for music education in the Palestinian territories, which includes a music conservatory and a music kindergarten. Since 2015, talented young musicians from the Middle East have studied at the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin, another initiative founded by Mr. Barenboim. In the fall of 2016, this university for music and humanities--housed in the former stage depot of the Staatsoper--started enrolling students in a four-year bachelor program. Also housed in the same building as the academy is the Frank Gehry-designed Pierre Boulez Hall, which will enrich Berlin's musical life beginning in March 2017.
Mr. Barenboim is the recipient of numerous awards honoring his peace efforts, and has published a number of books. Visit danielbarenboim.com for more information.
Wolfram Brandl was born in Würzburg, Germany, in 1975, and began violin studies with his father at the age of eight. As a schoolboy, he won prizes at the national Jugend musiziert competition and was concertmaster of the Bundesjugendorchester. In Würzburg, he pursued his studies with Max Speermann before moving to Berlin, where he studied with Uwe-Martin Haiberg after winning a scholarship from the Jürgen Ponto Foundation.
Before becoming first concertmaster of the Staatskapelle Berlin in 2011, Mr. Brandl spent 10 years as a first violinist with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle. Mr. Brandl is also the first violinist of the Scharoun Ensemble, which consists of members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. He has appeared with the ensemble at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, as well as at numerous music festivals. The Scharoun Ensemble has collaborated with composers that have included Pierre Boulez, Krzysztof Penderecki, Heinz Holliger, Thomas Adès, Matthias Pintscher, Brett Dean, and Jörg Widmann.
Mr. Brandl has made numerous recordings, most recently a CD released by Deutsche Grammophon--conducted by Daniel Barenboim and featuring Anna Netrebko--on which Mr. Brandl plays the violin solo in Strauss's Ein Heldenleben.
Principal violist of the Staatskapelle Berlin, Yulia Deyneka is also a versatile chamber musician, a professor at the Barenboim-Said Academy, and a frequent soloist with various orchestras. She has been involved with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra for more than 10 years, and the orchestra's viola section is under her tutelage. As of fall 2016, Ms. Deyneka became a member of the Boulez Ensemble, a resident in the newly built Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin.
Ms. Deyneka began her studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexander Bobrovsky; graduated from Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock, where she studied under Felix Schwartz; and earned a soloist diploma from Universität der Künste Berlin under Wilfried Strehle. Chamber music has played an intrinsic part in Ms. Deyneka's artistic development since her childhood, and continues to be a significant feature of her professional life. She has collaborated with artists that have included Boris Brovtsyn, Guy Braunstein, Janine Jansen, Sergei Krylov, Vadim Repin, Denis Matsuev, and Jörg Widmann. She is also in demand as a guest at many international chamber music festivals.
Together with Daniel Barenboim, Ms. Deyneka has performed sonatas for viola and piano, as well as other chamber works. Ms. Deyneka considers it her artistic responsibility to pass on her experience and musical knowledge to young musicians. She is a professor at the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin, and is responsible for the members of the Staatskapelle Berlin's Orchestra Academy. In the 2016-2017 season, she makes her debut as both soloist and chamber musician at Carnegie Hall and at the Philharmonie de Paris with the Boulez Ensemble, performing Boulez's Dérive 2. Additional upcoming engagements include concerts with Lisa Batiashvili, Michael Barenboim, François Leleux, and François-Xavier Roth.