Performance Thursday, February 23, 2012 | 8 PM

Berliner Philharmoniker

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The Berliner Philharmoniker has long been among the premier orchestras in the world, and under Sir Simon Rattle it is “achieving a new kind of invigorating glory” (The New York Times). For their first of three concerts at Carnegie Hall this season, they perform music that shows the range of fin-de-siècle music, from the august Dvořák’s Golden Spinning-Wheel to Debussy’s languid response to a Mallarmé poem.


  • Berliner Philharmoniker
    Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director and Conductor


  • DEBUSSY Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
  • DVORÁK The Golden Spinning-Wheel, Op. 109
  • SCHOENBERG Verklärte Nacht
  • ELGAR Enigma Variations, Op. 36


  • 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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At a Glance

This concert presents four enormously appealing but contrasting works from the end of the 19th century, including two from the decisive year 1899, when music was on a precipice of collapse and change. These composers dealt with their turbulent era in drastically different ways, and it is hard to believe these pieces all emerged within a five-year period. Debussy embarked subtly yet boldly in a new direction, while Schoenberg was pushing an old system to the brink of extinction but was not quite ready to create a new one. Dvořák was a senior 19th-century master who chose to mine his culture’s folk music, and Elgar was an unrepentant holdout for the old order—to the delight of the public and the discomfiture of the intelligentsia.
Program Notes



Sir Simon Rattle and Jeremy Geffen introduce Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune 

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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