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Staatskapelle Berlin

The Staatskapelle Berlin, or Berlin State Orchestra, has an extraordinarily long history the reflects much of the central European history of music in its relationship to the state. Since the ascension of international superstar conductor Daniel Barenboim to the podium in 1992, the group has emerged as a major force on the international concert and recording scene. Several dates may be given for the founding of what became the Staatskapelle Berlin, but it took shape in the middle and late 16th century as the court of the Elector of Brandenburg developed new musical ensembles and began to forge close ties with the Prussian monarchy. In 1701 it became the Royal Prussian Court Orchestra, and as such attracted top musicians including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Joachim Quantz. In 1783 the orchestra gave one of the first modern symphonic concerts, independently of the court, at the Hotel Paris, and through the 19th century it was a giant of European musical life, with conductors including Spontini, Meyerbeer, and, from 1899 to 1913, Richard Strauss. For all of this period, and down to the present day, the orchestra also served as the house orchestra of the Royal Court Opera, established in 1742 by Frederick the Great and in modern times renamed the Berlin State Opera. The same conductor serves as Staatskapellmeister or state music director of both ensembles. During World War II, Herbert von Karajan served as music director. After the war, due to its location in East Berlin, the orchestra came under the control of what would become East Germany. It maintained some connections with the non-Communist West; its conductor from 1964 to 1990 was the Austrian Otmar Suitner, who was able to travel fairly freely between East and West. After German reunification, Daniel Barenboim became the orchestra's first non-German conductor in modern times and has been successful in bringing the orchestra's international profile to a new level. The orchestra made its first appearance at the BBC Proms in 2013 (in a cycle of Wagner's Ring operas), and in 2017 performed a complete cycle of Bruckner's symphonies at Carnegie Hall in New York (the first-ever such cycle mounted in the U.S.). The orchestra has recorded prolifically for Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Teldec, Denon, Berlin Classics, and Warner Classics, among other labels, releasing a set of Brahms' four symphonies with Barenboim conducting in 2018.
© James Manheim /TiVo


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