The Berliner Philharmoniker in the media

Berliner Philharmoniker

From gramophone records to the Digital Concert Hall

The Beginnings
From gramophone records to the Digital Concert HallThe Berliner Philharmoniker are a media orchestra - and have been so from the very beginning. It began in the era of Arthur Nikisch when gramophone recording technology was developed. The Philharmoniker understood immediately the value of this new medium and started their recording career. In the 1920s, the recording activity of the orchestra increased significantly; many great conductors of the time went into the recording studio with the Philharmoniker. The discs were made of shellac, with a diameter of 30 cm and had only around 4 minutes of playing time per side.

Under Alfred Hertz, at the time conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Philharmoniker make their first recording on disc with excerpts from Richard Wagner’s »Parsifal« on eight 78rpm records. The recording is made mechanically with a cone, diaphragm and a needle which records the vibrations on a cylinder or disc.

Under the baton of Arthur Nikisch, the first complete recording of a symphony is made with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.

In November 1937 and February / March 1938 in the Beethovensaal in Köthener Straße in Berlin, the first complete recording of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” is made under the direction of Sir Thomas Beecham. It is recorded on 37 sides of the then 78rpm records.

The documentary “Botschafter der Musik - Wilhelm Furtwängler und die Berliner Philharmoniker” is made in 1951 under the working title “Klingendes Herz”, based on an idea by Wolfgang Bruning under the direction of Hermann Stöß. The film is particularly interesting for the recordings of the Philharmoniker under Sergiu Celibidache, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Richard Strauss and Bruno Walter. The photo shows director Hermann Stöss (left) and Sergiu Celibidache (right) during the shooting of the film.

An orchestra as media star
The Philharmoniker embraced all technical innovations - e.g. the replacement of mechanical by electrical recording, radio broadcasts of concerts, the introduction of the LP ... Particularly under Herbert von Karajan, the Philharmoniker became a media global player.

Herbert von Karajan was a technology fanatic who was not only interested in the possibilities of audio but also visual recording. The recording of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony was produced by Karajan and his cinematographer Ernst Wild in Berlin in 1973. Karajan and his Director of Photography Ernst Wild made this film at the end of a decade during which he and a group of distinguished avant-garde film directors had changed the way orchestral music was realised on screen.

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Herbert von Karajan

Breaking into the digital age: In Salzburg, Karajan and the head of Sony, Akio Morita, presented the Compact Disc (CD) which records analogue audio signals using digital computational processes.

“Karajan Symphony Edition” with the Berliner Philharmoniker

The Digital Concert Hall - entering the 21st century
The Berliner Philharmoniker's Digital Concert Hall video streams classical music concerts to your tablet, smartphone, smartTV or PC. The sound quality is similar to that of a CD and the picture quality similar to HD television. In this way, the Digital Concert Hall documents almost in its entirety the artistic work of the Berliner Philharmoniker and its musical partners – from principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle to famous guest conductors and soloists. Deutsche Bank has supported the Digital Concert Hall since its launch in 2008.

Gustavo Dudamel made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in June 2008, around six months before the Digital Concert Hall opened its virtual doors. And since then, all of his appearances with the orchestra have been documented there. Here he conducts Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3.

Rarely has a documentary about classical music met with such a response or received so many awards as the film "Rhythm Is It!" which has been shown in cinemas all round the world. In the archive of the Digital Concert Hall, there are other films and documentaries about the orchestra.

Movies in the Digital Concert Hall

With the European Concerts, the Berliner Philharmoniker celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the orchestra on 1 May 1882 and at the same time they remember Europe’s common cultural heritage. In addition to the many, often spectacular, venues, the recordings boast a top-class line-up of artists.

European Concerts in the Digital Concert Hall

In addition to the many, often spectacular venues, the recordings boast a top-class line-up of artists. Central to these performances – in addition to the Berliner Philharmoniker themselves – are chief conductors Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle plus there are many close friends of the orchestra such as Daniel Barenboim, Mariss Jansons and Gustavo Dudamel

To the shop

The New Year’s Eve Concert with famous stars are a highlight of the concert season - and the Digital Concert Hall.

New Year’s Eve Concerts

Every year, the Berliner Philharmoniker bring their concert season to a close with a colourful and exciting event which is regularly sold-out: an open-air concert at the Berlin Waldbühne. The concert in 2015 was a celebration of film music.

Waldbühne Concerts

Three times a season, you can see the Berliner Philharmoniker in a cinema near you: The broadcasts of the concerts use the technology of the Digital Concert Hall, the Berliner Philharmoniker's video platform on the Internet, where some fourty concerts per season can be seen live from the Philharmonie in HD quality.

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Historical Perspective: In the archive of the Digital Concert Hall, there is a series of historical concerts such as the legendary Beethoven cycle under the direction of Claudio Abbado in Rome.

Beethoven Cycle

The Berliner Philharmoniker launch a new in-house label, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings, to release selected future concert programmes, marking the first time the orchestra will be responsible for the technical and editorial presentation of its own recordings. The first recording on the new label is one of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s most important musical projects in recent years: Robert
Schumann’s complete symphonies conducted by chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle.

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The multimedia Schumann cycle in 2013 - on CD, Blu-ray, LP, download, and in the Digital Concert Hall

Credits: Story

Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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