University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 100 (July 1947)

Bitter, John
Berlin philharmonic,   pp. 9-11 PDF (2.1 MB)

Page 9

THE Berlin Philharmonic has a long
and colorful history. It is not
the world's oldest orchestra. The
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the
London Philharmonic, and even our
own New York Philharmonic Sym-
phony can boast a much longer
existence. But in this, its 65th year,
the Berlin Philharmonic can hold its
head high and boast a strong
position  among  the  organizations
that have withstood the shattering
effects of the last 13 years on the
cultural life of Germany.
It was rather different around
1880. Conductors usually faced the
audience while conducting and, after
a huge swinging motion (and a
prayer that all the players would
start at the same time) left the
orchestra more or less to its own
devices. Some directors, such as
Spohr in Paris, improved the rhyth-
mic qualities of the performance by
beating time on the floor with a
large cane. The tone qualityprobably
By John Bitter
suffered thereby, but the audiences
of that period merely responded by
ordering another beer or taking a
short constitutional.
In 1882 an acoustically-excellent
skating rink in Berlin was named
the "Philharmonie" and a group of
local musicians, previously known
as the Bilsesche Kapelle, gave a
series of concerts there under a
certain Franz Wuellner. Thus the
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was
born. It was not until 1887, however,
when the fiery and imaginative Hans
von Buelow took over, that a. really
first rate ensemble was established.
Buelow, who with Brahms and
Wagner stood for conducting that
was   leadership  in  every  sense,
particularly as regards the utmost of
sensitivity in dynamics and nuance,
made the whole world take note of
this orchestra and its superlative per-
N OT only in Berlin, but in many
A I cities throughout Europe did
these musicians travel and their
excellent reputation spread. These
trips  continued  after  Buelow's
death in 1894 under such famous
men as Felix Mottl, Hans Richter,
and Richard Strauss until Arthur
Nikisch took over as the second
dominant character in the life of the
orchestra. He continued through the
first World War until his death in
1922 when Wilhelm Furtwaengler
became music director. This popular
musician has won acclaim in all the
large music capitals of the world
and his recent reappearance in
Berlin marked perhaps the greatest
reception any individual in any field
has had in Germany since VE day.
This  account deals  particularly
with  events subsequent  to that
period. In 1945 the orchestra per-
7 JULY 1947

Go up to Top of Page