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234th Season

Symphony Orchestra of the Munich Philharmonic


The Munich Philharmonic was founded in 1893 through the private initiative of Franz Kaim, the son of a piano manufacturer. Since then, the orchestra has left an indelible imprint on Munich’s cultural life under the leadership of renowned conductors.

In the orchestra’s earliest years – initially under the name “Kaim Orchestra” – conductors like Hans Winderstein, Hermann Zumpe and the Bruckner pupil Ferdinand Lцwe guaranteed both a high technical standard of performance and enthusiastic support of contemporary artistry. Right from the outset, their artistic concept included the effort to structure programs and prices to allow access to the concerts by all levels of society. Felix Weingartner, who directed the orchestra from 1898 to 1905, enhanced its international reputation with several tours to other countries.

Gustav Mahler directed the orchestra in 1901 and 1910 at the respective world premiиres of his Fourth and Eighth Symphonies. In November of 1911, the orchestra, then called the “Konzertverein Orchestra” performed the world premiиre of Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” (The Song of the Earth) under Bruno Walter’s direction – only six months after the composer’s death in Vienna.

From 1908 to 1914, Ferdinand Lцwe again took over the orchestra. In the wake of a triumphant guest appearance in Vienna on March 1, 1898 featuring Anton Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, he conducted the first large-scale Bruckner concerts and thereby founded the orchestra’s Bruckner tradition, which has continued unbroken to the present day. During the administration of Siegmund von Hausegger, who guided the orchestra as its General Music Director from 1920 to 1938, the world premiиres of two Bruckner symphonies in their original versions took place as well as the final, definitive change of the orchestra’s name to “Munich Philharmonic”.

From 1938 to the summer of 1944, Austrian conductor Oswald Kabasta led the orchestra, advancing the Munich Philharmonic’s Bruckner tradition and also demonstrating the already established high standards of the orchestra on a number of tours at home and abroad.

The first concert after the Second World War was opened by Eugen Jochum with the overture to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whose music had been ostracized during the Nazi era. With Hans Rosbaud, the Philharmonic gained an outstanding leader in the autumn of 1945, a man who passionately advocated modern music. Rosbaud’s successor - from 1949 to 1966 - was Fritz Rieger. During the era of Rudolf Kempe, who headed the orchestra from 1967 until his untimely death in 1976, the Philharmonic undertook its first tours to Japan and the former Soviet Union.

In February of 1979, Sergiu Celibidache conducted his first concert series with the Munich Philharmonic and in June of the same year he was appointed General Music Director. Concert tours took him and the orchestra through many European countries as well as to South America and Asia. The legendary Bruckner concerts made a major contribution to the orchestra’s international standing, and during the Celibidache era the orchestra was repeatedly invited to accompany the Federal Government or the Federal President as musical ambassadors.

Following the wartime destruction of its old home, the so-called “Tonhalle“ on the Tьrkenstrasse, the orchestras spent over forty years in Munich’s Herkulessaal. In 1985, the Philharmonic once again acquired its own concert hall with the Philharmonie in the Gasteig, Munich’s municipal cultural center.

From September 1999 until July 2004, James Levine was Chief Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. With him, the Munich Philharmonic undertook extended concert tours: after a grand European tour in the winter of 2000, it made a guest appearance with James Levine in February 2002 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. In the summer of 2002, they made their joint dйbut at the BBC Proms in London. In the spring of 2003, the Munich Philharmonic was awarded the prize for the “Best Concert Programming of the 2003/2004 Season” by the So-ciety of German Music Publishers.

Since the 2001/2002 season, under the title “Jugend horcht!” (“Youth Listens!”) the Munich Philharmonic has developed an extensive program for children and adolescents. With chamber music concerts especially for them, school and youth concerts, workshops, attendance at rehearsals, school visits by Philharmonic musicians, instrument demonstrations as well as subscriptions for school and college students to choose from, the young have a number of options for getting involved with the world of classical music and the work of a great symphony orchestra. During the 2004/2005 season, over 25,000 children and adolescents took part in approximately 160 events.

In January of 2004, the Munich Philharmonic named Zubin Mehta the first “Honorary Conductor” in the history of the orchestra.

In May of 2003, Christian Thielemann signed a contract as the next General Music Director. His administration began in September of 2004. On October 29, 2004, he conducted his inaugural concert featuring the Fifth Symphony by Anton Bruckner. In conjunction with the awards ceremony for the “Euro-Klassik” prize for the year 2004, the Munich Philharmonic performed in the Philharmonie in the Gasteig on October 24, 2004. On this occasion, Christian Thielemann was the only prize winner to receive an award in the special category “Artist of the Year”. On the 20th of October 2005, the Munich Philharmonic gave a concert in honor of Pope Benedict XVI., conducted by Christian Thielemann. In the Aula Paolo VI. they played works by Palestrina, Verdi and Wagner for an audience of 8,000. Guest concerts in Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Turin, Barcelona, Madrid and many other places have been received with equal enthusiasm by press and public. The first Asian tour will take place in November of 2007 with concerts in Japan, South Korea and China. Beyond this, 18,000 subscribers in the Philharmonie on the Gasteig impressively document the ranking of the orchestra under the direction of its General Music Director in Munich’s cultural life.

Munich Philharmonic orchestra official website

Mariinsky Theatre:
1 Theatre Square
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky-2 (New Theatre):
34 Dekabristov Street
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky Concert Hall:
20 Pisareva street
St. Petersburg

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