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
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
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.