Just in: Berlin Philharmonic plans concert on May 1

Just in: Berlin Philharmonic plans concert on May 1


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2020

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s European Concert will go head in chamber formation under the baton of Kirill Petrenko and will be broadcast live from the Philharmonie on May 1, 2020 at 11am. Federal President Steinmeier will deliver the opening address.

With the help of their long-standing media partners rbb and EuroArts, the Berliner Philharmoniker have managed at short notice to arrange to show the concert as a live broadcast from the Philharmonie Berlin on German television channel Das Erste, on radio on rbbKultur and online in the Digital Concert Hall. The broadcast will also be shown in over 80 other countries.

In order to comply with all social distancing rules and hygiene requirements under these special circumstances, the programme has been adapted to a chamber music ensemble. New programme:
Arvo Pärt Fratres
György Ligeti Ramifications
Samuel Barber Adagio for Strings

Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 4 (arrangement for chamber ensemble by Erwin Stein)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Kirill Petrenko conductor
Christiane Karg soprano

Too much, too soon? How will this be received in up to 80 lockdown countries?


  • Olassus says:

    ugh, Karg.

  • johannfisch says:

    Too less, too late

  • Gustavo says:

    Universal programme, great gesture!

    Neither too much, nor too soon

    “Music is enough for a lifetime – but a lifetime is not enough for music.” (Rachmaninoff)

  • Ron Swanson says:

    I suspect chamber music will be played a lot this year. If the medics say it’s safe then there is no reason why music shouldn’t be performed.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Is he going to conduct with the orchestra reduced to 2 musicians placed 2 meters from each other?

  • A.L. says:

    With Pärt and Ligeti in the program, achieving great social distancing ought to be not difficult at all (-:

  • Andy says:

    Not too much too soon. Countries that seem to be doing reasonably well with controlling the virus need to start opening up slowly to give everyone else an idea of how things are going to go. Germany are well positioned for that.

  • Hilary says:

    Mahler 4 works nicely for 2 pianos as well if they want to reduce the forces even further.
    There’s a very good arrangement on Petrucci which I’ve played several times. Made me appreciate the piece afresh.

    • Enquiring Mind says:

      Are we that desperate?

      • Hilary says:

        Let’s wait and see what the medical advice is.
        The pianists would surely be atleast 2 metres apart and wearing masks. We can’t afford any more casualties.

        • Tamino says:

          „We can’t afford any more casualties.“

          Germany is not affected extraordinarliy by the virus. How much of that is due to social distancing is not clear, to a certain degree only.
          Every year lots of mostly older people die. C‘est la vie.
          We can‘t all of the sudden shut down life, because new snowflake generations jump over the cliff trying to escape a mosquito, shouting „none shall be bitten by a mosquito“.
          We also can not afford more devastating casualties in other areas of our societies, after we have done the REASONABLE to fight this virus.
          Looking forward to the Berliner Philharmoniker concert.

  • MacroV says:

    Good. I’m 100% for social distancing, but with appropriate precautions some gatherings can happen quite safely. This certainly seems like one. You’d think they could even bring in a small audience (in masks, and spaced appropriately).

  • Ilio says:

    Don’t know the regional breakdown of COVID19 in Germany, but seems like a risky move on the part of the Philharmoniker.

    • Tamino says:

      Every day we learn more about the virus. And currently it looks like it might not be that bad after all and we can soon go back to a normal life (plus being more enlightened about personal hygiene in seasonal times of virus prevalence).
      In Germany and Austria it’s a lot like the flu in effect. Why in Italy, Spain and France it is somewhat worse we will find out.
      I remain very hopeful.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        It is a bit worse than the seasonal flu, mainly because most people have reasonable immunity from the flu as they have previously caught it. However, it isn’t “very dangerous” and soon enough people will have caught it that we have “heard immunity”. Then things can return to normal.

  • Fan says:

    So still no live audience it seems …

  • Scheonberglover says:

    Great programme none the less!!

  • great idea ! says:

    great idea – but THE german orchestra should play also one german composer ..

  • Ed says:

    I love the Steiner arrangement of Mahler 4. Beautiful programme.

  • annnon says:

    The usual 2 meter rule isn’t sufficient in an enclosed space with wind players blowing their breaths and spittle into the air around them, and string players and conductor basically doing aerobic exercises and exhaling hard, unless of course, everyone has been tested.

  • Violist says:

    It was suppose to be played in Tel Aviv on this date by full BPO and Petrenko

  • fflambeau says:

    WAY TOO SOON! Looks like a publicity move. Endangers the musicians and all else. Listen to it on record/tape.

  • M2N2K says:

    Trying something like that looks to me like a good idea and I hope it works well.