“All the big orchestras come here it”s important for students to have international connections,” said Professor Sren Hermansson from the School of Music.

Paul Wong
Claudio Abbado, conductor extrodinaire.<br><br>Courtesy of UMS

This Friday, the University will be treated to a two-hour session with one of its biggest and most important international connections, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. As the opening concert of the University Musical Society”s 123rd Choral Union Series, the Berlin Philharmonic will perform Beethoven”s popular “Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op.67” and “Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op.68.” With baton in hand, conductor Claudio Abbado will bring orchestra”s phenomenal sound to a packed Hill Auditorium.

The Berlin Philharmonic”s history is tumultuous, yet filled with incredible honors and some of the classical world”s most famous names. In 1882, 50 musicians departed from their ensemble, which was under the leadership of an autocratic conductor, and laid the foundation for the philharmonic.

When taken under the wing of the ambitious conductor Hans Van Blow five years later, the orchestra began to develop their distinct technique and sound. Soon, composers such as Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Richard Strauss began to perform with the orchestra as guest conductors.

During the pre-World War II era, the German National Socialist cultural policy prevented many international soloists from performing with the philharmonic. After the war, this policy changed and artists such as violinist Yehudi Menuhin came to Berlin. And while the war ravaged much of Berlin itself, the orchestra was able to quickly regroup and begin performing two months after its end. In 1963, the philharmonic moved to the Philharmonie on Kemperplatz, a concert hall known for its acoustic brilliance.

As chief conductor and artistic director, Claudio Abbado has made a name for himself on the international scene. A native of Milan, Italy, he has previously served as the music director of the City of Vienna, the London Symphony Orchestra and La Scala opera house. At the end of this season, Abbado will resign as music director and Simon Rattle will take over the post.

Professor Hermansson, a Stockholm native and University faculty member on French horn, has had the opportunity to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic on numerous occasions. As a student, he was awestruck by their efficient rehearsals and distinct methods of learning new repertoire. “You put on a glove that was tailored for you,” he said. “The experience of playing was so easy because they have such a fantastic sound.”

Hermansson found that when he heard the Berlin Philharmonic perform two years ago, they still captured their unique sound that was present when he performed with them under conductor Herbert von Karajan. He also comments that whoever takes over Abbado”s position will meet the orchestra”s high expectations. “The tradition carries on with whoever will conduct,” he said. “Even after all these years the tradition is still there.”

The Berlin Philharmonic tradition, perhaps to difficult to describe in words, will be the focus of Friday”s concerts. As the orchestra tackles two of Beethoven”s most famous works, Hermansson is confident that the audience will enjoy the performance. “To hear this repertoire with this orchestra and this conductor they can expect a lot and they will get it,” he said.

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