With a tradition of more than 450 years, Staatskapelle Berlin is one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Originally founded as court orchestra by Prince-Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg in 1570 the ensemble expanded its activities with the founding of the Royal Court Opera in 1742 by Frederick the Great. Ever since then, the orchestra has been closely tied to Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
Many important musicians have conducted the orchestra, both in the opera and in the regular concert series that have been held since 1842, among them Gaspare Spontini, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Felix von Weingartner, Richard Strauss, Erich Kleiber, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Franz Konwitschny, and Otmar Suitner.
From the end of 1991 until January 2023, Daniel Barenboim (born 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) has served as the orchestra’s general music director. At numerous guest appearances that have brought the orchestra to the great European music centers, to Israel, the Far East, North and South America, the international top position of the orchestra has proved. The performance of all symphonies and piano concertos of Beethoven in Vienna, Paris, London, New York and Tokyo, and the cycles of symphonies of Schumann and Brahms, the ten-part cycle of all important stage works by Wagner, and the performance of Wagner’s “Ring”cycle in Japan 2002 are some of the most outstanding events. 2007 the symphonies and orchestral songs of Gustav Mahler were performed under the batons of Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez at Philharmonie Berlin. This ten-part cycle was also performed at Vienna’s Musikverein as well as New York’s Carnegie Hall. Highlights in recent time were a nine-part cycle with symphonies by Anton Bruckner in Vienna (June 2012) and concert performances of Wagner’s “Ring” during the Proms in London (Summer 2013). The celebrated Bruckner cycle was 2016 and 2017 presented again in Suntory Hall Tokyo as well in Carnegie Hall New York and in Philharmonie Paris.
A constantly growing number of recordings in both the operatic and symphonic repertoires documents the work of Staatskapelle Berlin. Most recently, recordings of all nine Bruckner symphonies, of the piano concertos by Chopin, Liszt and Brahms as well as large symphonic works by Strauss and Elgar were released. In addition several opera productions were produced among them Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”, “Parsifal” and “Tristan and Isolde”, Verdi’s “Il trovatore” and “Falstaff”, Berg’s “Lulu”, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tsar’s Bride”, Schumann’s “Scenes from Goethe‘s Faust” (all under the baton of Daniel Barenboim) as well as Strauss’s “Rosenkavalier” (with Zubin Mehta conducting). On the occation of the 450th birthday of Staatskapelle Berlin a CD edition with “Great Recordings” under the batons of important conductors was published as well a book and an exhibtion promoting the long and rich history of the orchestra.
During the season 2022-23 Staatskapelle Berlin gave guest concerts in Japan and South Korea as well as in Denmark, Vienna and Paris. The tour to Asia took place under the direction of Christian Thielemann who also conducted a new production of Wagner’s “Ring” in autumn 2022 at Staatsoper Unter den Linden. At the end of 2023 Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim will perform the four Brahms symphonies in five outstanding musical centres in Canada and the USA.
In September 2023 Christian Thielemann was appointed as new general music director; with beginning of the season 2024-25 he will assume this office.