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The Berliner Philharmoniker Will Return to Normality in the 2021/22 Season
Chief Conductor Kirill Petrenko of the Berliner Philharmoniker
For the Berliner Philharmoniker, their chief conductor Kirill Petrenko, all their musical guests and, above all, their public, there is reason to hope that the long-awaited normality will return to concert life in the 2021/22 season. An analysis of the thus far successful pilot projects, one in March and the longer series of concerts that just began in June 2021, has shown that the Great Hall of the Philharmonie Berlin offers an ideal environment for attending a concert safely because of its structural factors and the comprehensive hygiene concept of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. The Chamber Music Hall offers equivalent conditions, but it will not be in its active test phase with an audience until June 18. Cultural life has been hit hard by the pandemic, but it should be able to flourish again after a year and a half.

Central theme of the season: “Lost Generation”

Since he began his tenure with the orchestra, Kirill Petrenko has championed unjustly forgotten works. This cause characterizes the new season in particular with the term “Lost Generation”. Many members of the “lost generation” were persecuted, exiled or murdered after the Nazi takeover in 1933. Others, such as Karl Amadeus Hartmann, whose Concerto funebre Kirill Petrenko will conduct, remained in the country but withdrew into “inner emigration.”

The representatives of this “lost generation” are the musical connecting link between the final years of late Romanticism and new music after the Second World War. As a result of the persecution or silencing of these composers, a particularly interesting line of development within European music was severed which could have been influential for European music well into the 20th century. Musical life in Europe during the post-war years would surely have been different and richer with names such as Viktor Ullmann, Leone Sinigaglia, Pavel Haas or Erwin Schulhoff, whose works will be heard this season.

Many of the works to be played were already found on programmes of the Berliner Philharmoniker before 1933 and are worth being rediscovered. For example, chief conductor Kirill Petrenko is presenting the Rapsodia piemontese by Leone Sinigaglia again for the first time in 115 years. Alexander von Zemlinsky, whose Lyric Symphony will be heard, also appeared regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker before 1933.

The Chamber Music series with ensembles from and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, who are devoting themselves almost exclusively to works of the “lost generation” this season, also deserves special mention.

Multi-season themes with chief conductor Kirill Petrenko

Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko will conduct more concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker this season than ever before, including all the tour concerts. In his programming, he continues to emphasize long-range planning augmented with selected thematic concentrations, frequently drawing on long programmatic traditions of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

One of these emphases is the orchestra’s core repertoire from the central European musical tradition, which continues this season with works by Richard Strauss, Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms. For example, Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto will be heard during the first musical collaboration between Kirill Petrenko and Sir András Schiff.

The programing emphasis on works by Russian and Czech composers will also continue next season, both in Berlin and Baden-Baden. After Dmitri Shostakovich’s Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, Kirill Petrenko will now conduct his Tenth. The closing concert of the season in the Waldbühne, with pianist Daniil Trifonov, features a colourful, entirely Russian programme with works by Anatoly Lyadov and Sergei Rachmaninov along with Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The exploration of works by Josef Suk will continue with his symphonic poem Ripening, and his countryman Leoš Janáček appears prominently on the programme of the Europakonzert in Odessa with Taras Bulba on May 1, 2022.

Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Photoptosis for large orchestra is an emotional work of Modernism, which is also dear to Kirill Petrenko’s heart.

Composers in focus: Igor Stravinsky and Johann Sebastian Bach

Igor Stravinsky was not only born in 1882, the year the Berliner Philharmoniker were founded, he was soon closely associated with the orchestra. He made his debut as a pianist under Wilhelm Furtwängler in 1924 and stood in front of the orchestra himself for the first time as conductor in 1931. Since then, Stravinsky’s compositions are frequently found on the orchestra’s programmes. During this season, three of his best-known ballet scores will be presented: The Firebird (conducted by Kirill Petrenko), The Rite of Spring (under Andris Nelsons) and Petrushka (conducted by François-Xavier Roth). In addition, Sir Simon Rattle takes concertgoers on a Stravinsky Journey, and the composer’s Divertimento will be heard during the concert conducted by François-Xavier Roth.

Stravinsky’s late work is also a highlight of the Musikfest Berlin, which the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation presents jointly with the Berliner Festspiele from Aug. 28 to Sept. 20. During 34 concerts, festivalgoers can hear the Berlin orchestras and international guest ensembles, such as Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées. Further information on the Musikfest Berlin is available on the website of the Berliner Festspiele.

Johann Sebastian Bach will be the centrepiece of both the two Baroque Weekends and the Piano series. In addition to solo concertos and cantatas, his celebrated Goldberg Variations can be heard twice, once in an interpretation by Lang Lang on a concert grand, and once on the harpsichord with the young French harpsichordist Jean Rondeau. Daniil Trifonov devotes an entire recital to the composer, with works including a Brahms arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita in D minor and an arrangement of the chorale “Jesus bleibet meine Freude”. In a Late Night Sir Simon Rattle and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker will also explore the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Artist in Residence Patricia Kopatchinskaja and other women who set the tone for the season

As Artist in Residence, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja will have the opportunity to show many sides of her artistry and her personality. Both as soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker under her former student colleague Kirill Petrenko and in chamber music concerts, she will seek new approaches to familiar and unfamiliar works in her own unique way. For example, under the title Les Adieux, together with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra she devotes herself to the increasing destruction of the environment and the extinction of species, a “reaction of a musician to current events”, she explains.

Two other outstanding female artists are strong presences this season, with three appearances each: violinist Janine Jansen and pianist Anna Vinnitskaya. Anna Vinnitskaya joins the orchestra and Kirill Petrenko with her interpretation of Sergei Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto, including during the festival tour at the beginning of the season. Janine Jansen will be heard for instance in Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto at the New Year’s Eve Concert.

Conductor Oksana Lyniv makes her debut at concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation in a Late Night with the theme “Stravinsky.” Nodoka Okisawa, conducting scholar at the Karajan Academy and assistant to Kirill Petrenko, will appear in two concerts.

Last year’s Artist in Residence, violist Tabea Zimmermann, and violinist Antje Weithaas will perform at chamber music concerts.
Two style-setting women also appear as guests during the Jazz series: singer Cæcilie Norby and band leader Maria Schneider.

The Discourse series features discussions with the 100-year-old Holocaust eyewitness Margot Friedländer, curator Cornelia Vossen and writer Juli Zeh.

World premieres and German premieres

This season there will be four world premieres and two German premieres at concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. The first is Keyframes for a Hippogriff by Olga Neuwirth for countertenor, children’s choir and orchestra, conducted by Jakub Hrůša with soloist Andrew Watts during the Musikfest Berlin in September 2021. Musicians from the Berliner Philharmoniker will appear as soloists in the other world premieres of the season. First principal cellist Bruno Delepelaire plays the solo part in Donghoon Shin’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra under Kirill Petrenko at the gala concert for the 50th anniversary of the Karajan Academy. Emmanuel Pahud presents a flute concerto composed for him by the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, conducted by Paavo Järvi. Finally, Matthew McDonald is the soloist in the new concerto for double bass by Gerald Barry; John Storgårds makes his conducting debut at this concert.

German premieres include Lisa Streich’s HIMMEL for Ensemble in a concert of the Karajan Academy in September 2021, conducted by Matthias Pintscher, and Thomas Larcher’s Piano Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Semyon Bychkov; Kirill Gerstein will be the soloist.

Welcome Back Week before the season opens and collaborative projects with the neighbours

The Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation want to celebrate its great joy at finally being able to play regularly before audiences again with a special week. Prior to the opening of the season on Aug. 27 there will be additional concerts in the Great Hall of the Philharmonie, the Chamber Music Hall and the Waldbühne. From the jazz concert with the STEGREIF.orchester to chamber music with Tabea Zimmermann & Friends, a jazzy evening of world music with Avi Avital and the Omer Klein Trio, a world music concert with the famous fado singer Ana Moura and the appearance of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Janine Jansen and Amihai Grosz, principal violist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, there is something for every musical taste. The tickets are reasonably priced and cost between 8 and 45 euros.

The Berliner Philharmoniker will appear twice during this week. On Welcome Back Sunday there will be chamber music throughout the day with ensembles from the orchestra, including the 12 Cellists, and on Thursday, Aug. 26, chief conductor Kirill Petrenko appears for the first time in the Waldbühne during a special concert with works by Carl Maria von Weber, Franz Schubert and undoubtedly an encore or two. Advance sales for this week begin on June 21.

As part of the project “Utopie Kulturforum” and a forward-looking collaboration with the, by then, freshly reopened Neue Nationalgalerie, there will be two chamber concerts in the Neue Nationalgalerie, an exhibition on Hans Scharoun in the foyer of the Philharmonie (in autumn of 2021) and a Discourse discussion in the Neue Nationalgalerie on the theme “Lost Generation”. With these activities, the participants want to strengthen and stimulate the collaboration between the institutions at the Kulturforum.

Two Baroque Weekends

At the end of February and beginning of March 2022, the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation will present two Baroque Weekends, during which several of the most important ensembles specializing in this period from various European countries will appear. The guests will include the Accademia del Piacere with Fahmi Alqhai from Spain, the Jupiter Ensemble with Thomas Dunford, Les Arts Florissants with William Christie from France, Collegium 1704 from the Czech Republic and Il pomo d’oro from Italy. In addition, the Berlin Baroque Soloists and – in cooperation with Konzertdirektion Hans Adler – the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra will appear as “local heroes”. In addition to focusing on the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, the programme will reflect the enormous diversity of European Baroque music.

Debuts, long-time friends and guests

Making their first appearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker are the Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno in October 2021, the chief conductor of the Kammerakademie Potsdam, Antonello Manacorda, in May 2022 and Finnish conductor John Storgårds in June 2022. A very special debut will also take place in October 2021: the world-renowned film composer John Williams appears for the first time with the Berliner Philharmoniker, conducting several of his most famous film scores. Conductor Oksana Lyniv makes her debut in concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, presenting a Late Night on the theme “Stravinsky” with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Among the regular guests returning to the conductor’s desk of the Berliner Philharmoniker again this season are former chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle, with two concert programmes and a Late Night, honorary conductor Daniel Barenboim, who will devote his two concerts to works by Giuseppe Verdi, and honorary orchestra member Zubin Mehta, with Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony. Other long-standing friends on the orchestra podium will be Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Gustavo Dudamel, Adam Fischer, Jakub Hrůša, Paavo Järvi, Andris Nelsons, Sakari Oramo, François-Xavier Roth and Tugan Sokhiev. Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Philippe Jordan return to the orchestra after a long absence.

Violinist Augustin Hadelich appears for the first time as soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker in a double debut with conductor Gustavo Gimeno. The orchestra’s guest soloists will also include pianists Nikolai Lugansky, Daniil Trifonov and Sir András Schiff as well as trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger. Soloists from within the orchestra’s own ranks will be principal oboe Albrecht Mayer and first concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley.

The days without choral and solo singing are also past in the concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker after the break caused by the corona pandemic. There will be no fewer than 20 vocal debuts, including Asmik Grigorian, Okka von der Damerau, Andrew Watts, Lise Davidsen and Nadine Sierra. Audiences and orchestra alike can look forward to hearing singers such as Anja Kampe, Sonya Yoncheva and Christian Gerhaher again.

The Chamber Music series of the Berliner Philharmoniker

Foundation offer listeners the opportunity to experience musicians at close range. In the Quartet series the Castalian String Quartet appears for the first time, as well as already familiar guests such as the Quatuor Ébène, the vision string quartet and the Philharmonic String Quartet, with programmes ranging from Haydn to jazz and pop improvisations. Daniil Trifonov, Sir András Schiff, Anna Vinnitskaya and Jan Lisiecki appear in the Piano series, and there are also vocal recitals with Sonya Yoncheva and countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński.

The residencies of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra also continue in the concert series International Chamber Orchestras. The two orchestras bring along such guests as pianists Leif Ove Andsnes and Sir András Schiff, conductor Robin Ticciati and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. One of the concerts of the Mahler Chamber Orchester will be conceptualized by this year’s Artist in Residence Patricia Kopatchinskaja.

The Bundesjugendorchester (National Youth Orchestra of Germany), which is supported by the Berliner Philharmoniker, are regular guests. They will give a concert in Berlin with the Bundesjugendballett (National Youth Ballet), conducted by Alexander Shelley and choreographed by John Neumeier, and will also appear in Baden-Baden under Kirill Petrenko. The Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (Young German Philharmonic Orchestra) appears in the Philharmonie Berlin under Dima Slobodeniouk, with cellist Nicolas Altstaedt as soloist in the Cello Concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

After a long absence, the Vienna Philharmonic appears again as a guest in June 2022, performing works by Gubaidulina, Shostakovich and Dvořák conducted by Andris Nelsons.

The Berliner Philharmoniker in Baden-Baden

After both the Easter Festival of the Berliner Philharmoniker in Baden-Baden and the rescheduled dates in May 2021 had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, they will now be replaced with a residency in November. Kirill Petrenko will conduct two concert performances of Peter Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa and two symphonic concerts. The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden will issue a press release by the end of July with details on the programme.

The first Easter Festival for which chief conductor Kirill Petrenko assumes artistic responsibility will finally take place in April 2022. The programme includes two further operas by Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades, directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, and a concert performance of Iolanta, both with outstanding casts, including Asmik Grigorian and Sonya Yoncheva singing the title roles. There will also be symphonic concerts conducted by Kirill Petrenko, François-Xavier Roth and Andris Nelsons, chamber music master concerts in picturesque performance settings throughout the spa town with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and an appearance by the Bundesjugendorchester under the orchestra’s chief conductor. The Queen of Spades and Iolanta will also be presented in concert in Berlin.

Education & Outreach

Family Concerts with the entire orchestra moderated by chief conductor Kirill Petrenko were planned during the past season as the beginning of a new tradition in the area of Education & Outreach. Because of the pandemic, they were presented as digital film projects under the title Close Up. During the first of these, Kirill Petrenko elucidated Kurt Weill’s First Symphony together with percussionist Simon Rössler and principal horn Stefan Dohr, including children and young adults. The film can be viewed immediately on the website of the Berliner Philharmoniker and soon in the Digital Concert Hall. The next projects planned are Romeo and Juliet and Iolanta by Peter Tchaikovsky as well as Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird.

The Family Concerts with Kirill Petrenko devoted to Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird and Peter Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta are expected to take place before audiences again during the 2021/22 season. A further concert in this format will be devoted to Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and will be conducted by Thomas Guggeis. This series would not be complete without the popular Christmas Family Concerts moderated by orchestra hornist Sarah Willis. These Family Concerts are aimed at everyone from the age of 6 who is curious about classical music and would like to delve deeper into a work.

Another series that is offered as a package, like the Family Concerts, are the concerts for children from the ages of 3 to 5, in which they can experience musical stories by listening and participating. Chamber music ensembles consisting of members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Karajan Academy perform during these imaginative, child-oriented concerts.

The Vocal Heroes, the successful choral programme of the Berliner Philharmoniker that was launched in 2013 with the generous support of the Deutsche Bank, have “left the nest” and since the beginning of June are a non-profit association with offices in the newly opened Choir Centre in Berlin-Neukölln.

Karajan Academy

The Karajan Academy celebrates its 50th anniversary this season. Its past, present and future are reflected in its anniversary concert. Conducted by Kirill Petrenko, an orchestra will be formed with current scholars and former Academy students who are now members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Together they will play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and a new work for cello and orchestra by Donghoon Shin, which was also commissioned for the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize. The soloist in this work will be Bruno Delepelaire, first principal cellist of the Philharmoniker and a former scholar himself. Mozart’s “Linz” Symphony opens the concert under conducting scholar Nodoka Okisawa, who will also appear next season in her own portrait concert.

The other Academy concerts offer a wide range of programmes in the context of Academy training. In addition to new music under composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher and a concert with Artist in Residence Patricia Kopatchinskaja, a concert with Daniel Harding and tenor Andrew Staples is a further highlight of the 2021/22 season. For the first time, the Academy is awarding a composition scholarship, made possible by the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe, thus expanding not only its training spectrum but also its commitment to contemporary music. Works, in some cases newly composed, by the first recipient, Hovik Sardaryan, will be performed or premiered during the Academy’s monthly Carte Blanche concerts, a series in which the scholars can be heard free of charge in the Chamber Music Hall. Further information at

Special projects and other program series

An Open Day is planned for June 12, 2022, providing an opportunity to get to know the Philharmonie Berlin in depth. At the end of the day the Berliner Philharmoniker will perform under Kirill Petrenko.

The subscription concerts on the theme of jazz will also continue. The series Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic, curated by Siggi Loch, offers five concerts, including a Tribute to Charles Mingus 100, a concert with Paolo Fresu and an homage to Miles Davis with jazz trumpeter Theo Croker, also featuring members of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

During four of the five concerts in the Organ series, members of the Berliner Philharmoniker will appear with guest organists; for example, Sebastian Heindl performs with the Brass Ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Els Biesemans appears with oboist Andreas Wittmann.

The four philharmonic Discourses are directly related to the thematic focuses of the season, for instance, in discussions on the themes “Lost Generation” and “Utopia of the Kulturforum”.
The popular Philharmonic Salon will present three programmes, curated by the former principal cellist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Götz Teutsch.

The electronic music festival Strom also returns during the coming season. Curator Stefan Goldmann has again put together an interesting line-up of various artists from this field for the first weekend in February.

Tour planning

The tours planned for this season, all of which will be conducted by Kirill Petrenko, begin at the end of August with the festival tour to Salzburg, Lucerne and Paris. There will be a side trip to Frankfurt am Main in November, before the residency in Baden-Baden; further tour plans for November will be announced at a later date. In February, two concerts are planned at the Vienna Musikverein and one concert each in Ljubljana and Zagreb. The Europakonzert in May takes the orchestra to Odessa again for the first time since 1904. A residency in Shanghai is planned after the close of the season; further details will be announced later.

New subscription series and start of advance ticket sales

There will be three new subscription series: one for the Karajan Academy and two series of Family Concerts, each for different age groups.

Advance ticket sales for single tickets begin on Aug. 9, 2021. Advance sales for the Welcome Back Week start on June 21, 2021, and for the Waldbühne concert in August, on July 19, 2021.


Many of these projects would not be possible without the support of partners. Special mention is due to the Deutsche Bank, which has supported the Berliner Philharmoniker for more than 30 years and was also a dependable partner during the pandemic, with a special focus on the Education Program since 2002.

This year we would particularly like to thank the State of Berlin and the Federal Government, which offset the financial shortages during the pandemic with their support and through their grants continue to provide the basis for the financing of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation.

Private sponsorship for more than 50 years: The Friends of the Berliner Philharmoniker assist us in various ways, including enabling us to purchase instruments and regularly supporting special projects. For example, during the current season, funding was provided for a new camera system and a flexible studio with transmission technology for audio-visual broadcasts from the Chamber Music Hall.

Media partners with whom the Berliner Philharmoniker have successfully collaborated for many years will again be rbbKultur from the Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, arte and EuroArts.

Other long-standing supporters are our mobility partner, Mercedes Benz AG, and our exclusive hotel partner, the Grand Hyatt Berlin.
As part of the testing strategy of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, the biotech company Centogene has supported the regular PCR testing of the orchestra as sponsor.

Press Contact:
Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker
Elisabeth Hilsdorf – Head of PR
telephone +49 30 25488-254

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