One of germany’s oldest orchestras celebrates a milestone birthday: the staatskapelle berlin, the orchestra of the staatsoper unter den linden, is 450 years old.
With a concert under the baton of its chief conductor daniel barenboim and a speech by german president frank-walter steinmeier, the german national orchestra will open its doors to the public this friday (11. September) will be celebrated in the main hall of the staatsoper.
The concert will be streamed live on arte concert and broadcasted on 13. September (16.50 o’clock) broadcast on arte television. The program includes ludwig van beethoven’s 7. Symphony and jorg widmann’s commissioned work "zeitensprunge – 450 bars for orchestra. An exhibition in the apollo hall traces the orchestra’s history, on saturday (12. September) the musicians perform for a "day for the staatskapelle.
The staatskapelle looks back on an eventful history. Founded in 1570 as the court orchestra of the electorate of brandenburg by prince joachim II. Over wars, political upheavals and economic crises, the kapelle developed into the most famous orchestra in the german capital – next to the berlin philharmonic orchestra. It was not until a good 170 years after the orchestra was founded that the hofkapelle was also given the opera house under the linden trees in 1742.
Cellist isa von wedemeyer, who has been playing in the staatskapelle since 1999, has a very personal view of this story. "I get goose bumps when i think that felix mendelssohn once strode through the hall here," she says.
Whether it was the building of the wall in 1961, which caused many musicians to leave for the west, or the fall of the wall in 1989, which gave the staatskapelle a new perspective – "the orchestra has always been at the center of politics," says violinist susanne schergaut, who has been a member of the staatskapelle for around 30 years.
At the end of the imperial era, the escape of wilhelm II. The state opera initially without gonner there. With the weimar republic, the opera house rose to new heights, with legendary conductors such as richard strauss, otto klemperer, erich kleiber and wilhelm furtwangler at the helm.
Then the nazis also seized the state opera, while books were burned on bebelplatz. The new rulers also did not stop at "cleaning up" the orchestra – driven by internal suspicions and ideological zeal, as historian misha aster describes in his history of the linden opera in the 20th century. In the nineteenth century.
On 1. September 1944 the prussian state opera was officially dissolved, the musicians had to work in rustic factories in berlin-reinickendorf. On 3. February 1945 herbert von karajan conducted the staatskapelle for its reopening in the staatsoper, which had just been damaged by allied bombs. A short time later it was again destroyed by incendiary bombs. With the reconstruction during the GDR era, but above all with the most recent renovation, the staatskapelle was given a stage with sophisticated acoustics.
The staatskapelle has preserved its greatest asset over the centuries: its dual role as an opera and concert orchestra. "That gives us enormous flexibility," says violinist schergaut. Rehearsing a brahms symphony in the morning and a mozart opera in the orchestra pit in the evening – these divided functions were particularly demanding on the musicians, says cellist von wedemeyer. The raw emotions of the opera were reflected in the way the music was played in the concerts.
After the turnaround, the future of the state opera was by no means certain. When the berlin savings debate about a merger of the capital’s opera houses flared up around the year 2000, the staatskapelle was also up for discussion. With barenboim, who took over as director of the state opera in 1992, the plans came off the table, and the federal government joined the state of berlin as a financial backer for the state orchestra.
Uberhaupt barenboim: under the argentine-israeli conductor and pianist, the staatskapelle became something of an ambassador for the "german sound," as the "new york times" wrote. Barenboim attaches great importance to the sound, says schergaut. Naturally, he is the boss, but he also always looks for a strong musical partner in the orchestra. Barenboim will be 78 soon; the orchestra appointed him as its lifetime leader in 2000.