The New York Philharmonic in Europe

A Virtual Tour of Past Visits to London, Cologne, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Berlin, and Dresden

By New York Philharmonic

Departure for the European Tour (1930-04-23)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Touring has been part of the New York Philharmonic's DNA since its first international trip to Europe, in 1930.

Join the Orchestra on a virtual journey through its history in London, Cologne, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Dresden — cities it had been scheduled to visit in May 2020.

1930 European Tour: Aboard the S.S. De Grasse (May 1930) by New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

London: Excerpt from “Philharmonic Drinks Ship Dry on Trip," New York Evening Post, May 22, 1930.

David Finlayson, Trombone, The Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Chair

Video: Aboard the S.S. De Grasse, 1930. Shot by then Principal Trumpet Harry Glantz.

Programs, London (1930-06-01/2017-04-01)New York Philharmonic

London

In 1930 the United States was still bone dry under Prohibition, but the ship the New York Philharmonic sailed upon to its first European stop was not.

High spirits and rave reviews for concerts led by then Music Director Arturo Toscanini followed in London, setting the tone for a long friendship; the Orchestra has since returned on eight different tours, including recent residencies at the Barbican Centre.

1930 European Tour: Sightseeing in London (June 1930) by New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

London: Excerpt from "Signor Toscanini's Triumph," Daily Telegraph, June 2, 1930.

Rebecca Young, Associate Principal Viola, The Joan and Joel Smilow Chair

Video: Sightseeing in London, 1930. Shot by then Principal Trumpet Harry Glantz.

1976: Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in London (1976-06-04) by New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

Bicentennial Tour, 1976
Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic performed Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 3, 1976, with then Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker playing the iconic opening.

Departure for the European Tour (1955-09-03) by New York PhilharmonicOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

In 1955 the New York Philharmonic and then Music Director Dimitri Mitropoulos traveled on the 1955 European Tour. Here instrument cases are loaded onto the plane, which flew out of Idlewild Airport, now known as John F. Kennedy International Airport. After visiting the continent's musical capitals, including the Philharmonic's first trip to Greece, the tour concluded with two concerts in London that featured pianist Myra Hess and violinist Nathan Milstein.

Residency in London (2015-04-18) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

The Philharmonic enjoys frequent trips to London to this day. Here violinist Hae-Young Ham strolls past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament during the Philharmonic's 2015 residency at the Barbican Centre.

Programs, Cologne (1998-10-08/2015-05-01)New York Philharmonic

Cologne

Under the direction of then Music Director Kurt Masur, the Philharmonic made its first-ever appearance in Cologne, Germany, in 1995 and returned three years later for a residency of eight concerts during the Kölner Philharmonie’s Tchaikovsky Festival. The city on the Rhine became a favorite designation, with the Orchestra returning there on six more tours, including those led by subsequent Music Directors Lorin Maazel and Alan Gilbert.

Broadcast Performance in Cologne (June 2000) by Julie DeneshaOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

When Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic performed at the Kölner Philharmonie in 2000, listeners enjoyed an al fresco broadcast outside the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral).

Poster, Cologne Residency (2002) by New York PhilharmonicOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Cologne: Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic perform Bernstein's Serenade
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Glenn Dicterow, Soloist
Kölner Philharmonie, September 6, 2002

Performance at the Kölner Philharmonie (2015-04-30) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

Then Music Director Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic take a bow in the Kölner Philharmonie, 2015.

Backstage at the Kölner Philharmonie (2015-04-30) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

The Kölner Philharmonie knows how to treat musicians well. Once offstage New York Philharmonic musicians are offered Kölsch, a specialty beer brewed in Cologne. Pianist Eric Huebner and violinists Elizabeth Zeltser and Yulia Ziskel are among the musicians accepting the hospitality.

Programs, Luxembourg (1959-09-18/2012-02-03)New York Philharmonic

Luxembourg

The Old-World charms of tiny Luxembourg have been a frequent 21st-century element of Philharmonic travels, with six tour stops since 2005, have during the tenures of Music Directors Lorin Maazel and Alan Gilbert.

1959 European Tour: Arrival in Luxembourg (1959-09-18) by New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

Luxembourg: Excerpts from a letter to the Philharmonic Board from President David M. Keiser, 1959

Read by Eric Bartlett, Cello

The New York Philharmonic arrives in Luxembourg, 1959. This was the Philharmonic's first visit to the country.

Stanley and Naomi Drucker, Luxembourg (2005-11-14) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

Then Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker and his wife, Naomi, admire the view during their free time in Luxembourg, 2005.

Philharmonie Luxembourg (2017-03-24) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

The EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour brought the Orchestra to the Philharmonie Luxembourg.

When architect Christian de Portzamparc’s plan to surround the hall with trees proved impossible, he installed 827 vertical lines instead, “enabling the public to either see or forget their surroundings.”

New York Philharmonic onstage at the Philharmonie Luxembourg (2017-03-24) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

Audience and Orchestra assemble in Philharmonie Luxembourg’s 1,500-seat Grand Auditorium for the evening’s program of works by John Adams, Prokofiev with violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, and Berlioz.

Programs, Amsterdam (1985-06-08/2005-11-12)New York Philharmonic

Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s famed Concertgebouw has been a destination for the New York Philharmonic on eight different tours, under five different music directors. (The planned return to this city, this year, would have been led by current Music Director Jaap van Zweden, a native son.) Surprisingly, the first was not until 1968, led by then Music Director Leonard Bernstein.

Leonard Bernstein on the streets of Amsterdam (1976-05-31) by Bert BialOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Leonard Bernstein on the streets of Amsterdam, 1976.

Leonard Bernstein receives Edison Classical Music Award (1968-09-20) by New York PhilharmonicOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Amsterdam: Excerpt from “Spectacular Success — Grand Gala Became Bernstein’s Show”
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de Volkskrant, September 21, 1968

Robert Rinehart, Viola, The Mr. and Mrs. G. Chris Andersen Chair

Departure for the Tour of Europe and Israel (1968-08-22) by New York PhilharmonicOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Amsterdam: Excerpts from a letter from Evelyn Ames
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Evelyn Ames, right, wrote this letter to patrons of the New York Philharmonic about the 1968 Tour of Europe and Israel. She was a poet and author, as well as the wife of Amyas Ames, President of the New York Philharmonic. September 30, 1968.

Leah Ferguson, Viola

Amsterdam's Concertgebouw (2015-04-21) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

The day of the New York Philharmonic's first concert in 2015 at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill warms up in front of the hall.

Programs, BerlinNew York Philharmonic

Berlin

Philharmonic tour appearances in Berlin have mirrored the city's historic ups and downs. Following the first performances on the 1930 tour, led by then Music Director Arturo Toscanini, political strife and war kept the Orchestra away until 1955. By then the Cold War raged, and soon after Leonard Bernstein, then Music Director, led performances there in 1959 and 1960, the Berlin Wall divided the city. After the wall fell in 1989, Bernstein returned with Philharmonic musicians and others from around the world for a triumphant performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

1930 European Tour: Train Ride from Berlin to Brussels (1930-05-29) by New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

Video: Traveling from Berlin to Brussels, 1930. Shot by then Principal Trumpet Harry Glantz.

Audio: Gershwin's An American in Paris, with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. Columbia Records, 1959.

Jerome Ashby, Berlin's Konzerthaus (September 1988) by Bert BialOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Then Associate Principal Horn Jerome Ashby warms up in the Berlin Konzerthaus, 1988.

Sherry Sylar and the Berlin Wall (December 1989)New York Philharmonic

Fall of the Wall

On Christmas Day, 1989, Leonard Bernstein conducted performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on both sides of the crumbling Berlin Wall, with an orchestra made up of musicians from East and West Germany, as well as the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, and the Kirov-Orchester Leningrad.

Associate Principal Oboe Sherry Sylar was one member of the Philharmonic who performed in this momentous concert. Here she is, in 1989, seen in front of a remaining portion of the Berlin Wall.

Ode to Freedom - Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - IV. Allegro assai vivace · Bernstein (1989-12-25)New York Philharmonic

Freedom in Berlin

For the occasion Bernstein altered the text to the Ode to Joy, changing the original opening word "Freude!" ("Joy!") to "Freiheit!" ("Freedom!"). He asked: “If not now, when?” noting that he had always heard freedom as the "subtext of the symphony. So why not make it the text?” Bernstein was sure that Beethoven would “give us his blessing.” Tens of millions, in Europe and around the world, watched the second performance from Berlin’s Schauspielhaus. The event is considered a seminal moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Sherry Sylar and Leonard Bernstein (December 1989)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Berlin: “Xmas in Berlin ’89,” from Leonard Bernstein
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Sherry Sylar, Associate Principal Oboe

Downtime in Germany (1975) by Elden "Buster" BailyOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

A pint in Germany

New York Philharmonic Percussionist Elden "Buster" Bailey snapped this photo of his fellow musicians relaxing in a Biergarten while on tour in 1975.

Programs, Dresden (1930-05-26/2011-05-21)New York Philharmonic

Dresden

Dresden was part of East Germany, and cultural exchanges with the West were rare when the Philharmonic first traveled there in 1985, with then Music Director Zubin Mehta leading a program that included music by a living American composer, Jacob Druckman. The Orchestra did not return for ten years, when then Music Director Lorin Maazel led thee concerts to celebrate the reconsecration of the Frauenkirche, the historic cathedral that had been left in ruins after World War II and newly reconstructed after Germany’s reunification.

Datebook, European Tour Leipzig, Dresden (1930-05-02/1930-06-04)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Diary from 1930

These datebooks were distributed to Philharmonic musicians and staff for use on the 1930 European tour, outlining travel plans, rehearsal schedules, and concert schedules for the entire five-week tour.

Violinist Louis Sherman used the extra space in his datebook to record each day's activities. He wrote that he had time to do some sightseeing during their last day in Dresden.

Slide, Dresden's Frauenkirche (1924-01-26/1939-11-18) by Ernest SchellingOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital ArchivesNew York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Berlin and Dresden: A Personal Reminiscence
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Kenneth Mirkin, Viola

Photo: Painted glass slide depicting Dresden's Frauenkirche before WWII, created by Ernest Schelling for use in New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts

Dresden's Frauenkirche (2005-11-17) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

An architectural marvel, restored

The Frauenkirche, built in 1738, was reduced to rubble during World War II by the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Reconstruction started decades later, in 1993, and took 12 years to complete.

New York Philharmonic onstage at the Frauenkirche (2005-11-17) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York PhilharmonicNew York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic was honored to perform in the concerts celebrating the reconsecration of the cathedral in November 2005.

Credits: Story

Curated by the New York Philharmonic Archives
Gabryel Smith, Director, Archives & Exhibitions
Sarah Palermo, Assistant Archivist
Bill Levay, Digital Archivist

Script writing: Gabryel Smith, Monica Parks, Director of Publications, Rebecca Winzenried, Program and Publications Editor

Audio editing: Lawrence R. Rock, Audio Director, Mark Travis, Associate Director, Media Production, Ian Good, Assistant, Digital Platforms & Experience

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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