The Making of an Orchestra | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 03.12.2008
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The Making of an Orchestra

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin is one of Germany's leading orchestras. Its renowned principal conductors, the scope and variety of its work, and an emphasis on modern and contemporary music make the group unique.

Ingo Metzmacher conducting the DSO

DSO was founded just after World War II

The orchestra was founded in 1946 as the RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester by the broadcasting station in the American sector of Berlin. Ferenc Fricsay became the orchestra's first principal conductor. He set the standard and defined the orchestra's repertoire.

The orchestra's sound was characterized by transparency, structural clarity and plasticity. It quickly became well known for its commitment to 20th century music, and its ability to attract first-rate conductors.

New Germany, new name

Lorin Maazel

Lorin Maazel

In 1964, the young Lorin Maazel took on the artistic responsibility for the orchestra. He was followed by Riccardo Chailly in 1982 and by Vladimir Ashkenazy in 1989, who remained principal conductor until 1999. The start of Ashkenazy's tenure coincided with a significant moment in German history -- the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of East and West.

In 1993, to avoid confusion in Berlin's newly reunited cultural landscape, the orchestra decided to relinquish its familiar name in favor of its present one -- Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO).

Kent Nagano has been the deciding influential figure as the orchestra moves into the new century. Nagano was named principal conductor and artistic director at the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. The unique partnership that quickly developed between orchestra and conductor has been met with enthusiasm by audiences and critics alike. Nagano remained in his position until 2006 and now serves as the orchestra's conductor laureate.

Kent Nagano

Kent Nagano

In September 2007, Ingo Metzmacher became principal conductor and artistic director of the DSO. He is the first German conductor to hold this position. In his first year as music director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Ingo Metzmacher explored the specific relation between the German mind and music in the chosen theme "On the German Soul."

Breakthrough 1909

During the 2008-2009 season, Metzmacher takes the DSO and its audience on another thematic journey. With the new season's main focal point, "Breakthrough 1909," he is investigating the musical revolutionary impulses and changes during the period between 1900 and World War I -- specifically the time in which the concept of tonality was being increasingly shaken and put into question, until it finally collapsed.

Composers from different origins play significant roles and paint a rich picture of this turning point, the beginnings of musical modernity. It is Arnold Schoenberg who, amongst the composers of the second Viennese school, represents the strongest and most crucial force.

Ingo Metzmacher

Ingo Metzmacher

Tours of the DSO have included concerts in Lebanon, Russia, Asia, the USA and South America, as well as regular engagements at the Salzburg Festival and the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. Its relationship with the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has resulted in a series of guest performances in Eastern Europe (Sofia, Bucharest, Warsaw, Belgrade and Sibiu).

Further, the DSO performed in the major European concerts halls, such as the Auditorium National in Madrid, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels and Megaron in Athens. In the 2008-2009 season, the orchestra will travel to Asia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and France.

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

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