Берлинская государственная капелла
© Thomas Bartilla
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 Tannhäuserwon 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.