Since 1952, our top concern has always been to perform music at the very highest level for a broad public – up to 2006 as the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, then as the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Our name carries our affiliation with the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt out into the world, as well as the bond with our city, whose upheavals and changes we have experienced and shaped as a musical community over several generations. These ranged from the fresh start in 1961 under Principal Conductor Kurt Sanderling with music academy graduates following the construction of the Berlin Wall through relocation into the reconstructed Schauspielhaus in 1984 to the inspiring and shattering decades of change after the fall of the Wall and reunification.
Christoph Eschenbach has led us as Principal Conductor since the 2019/20 season. His predecessor Iván Fischer (2012 – 2018) continues to be associated with us as our Honorary Conductor, and Juraj Valčuha has regularly provided important momentum as Principal Guest Conductor since 2017. Joana Mallwitz will be our designated Principal Conductor from the 2023/24 season.
We are fortunate to have a core audience that is one of the largest of any classical orchestra in Germany – over 12,000 subscribers have been coming to Gendarmenmarkt for many years, where we perform around 100 concerts every season. Guest performances, tours and festival invitations also take us to other national and international stages. At the Kurt Sanderling Academy Foundation, which was founded in 2010, we prepare highly talented music academy graduates for a career in orchestral music. Our orchestra and academy members come from 27 different countries (as of 2021/22) – we consider this diversity a privilege and an enormous enrichment.
In the 21st century, an era characterised by diversity and digital technology, we aspire to carry on the cultural heritage of classical music in a way that enables as many people as possible to participate, regardless of their social and geographical background. With passion, commitment and the highest degree of artistic professionalism, we dedicate ourselves to new formats and educational projects, both analogue and digital, in addition to orchestral concerts and chamber music. We are always open to new forms of presentation, diverse media forms and channels.
In our “Mittendrin – Right in the Middle” concerts, the audience is seated between us and experiences directly how we make music together. As presenters of family concerts and rehearsal visits or participants in web series such as the multiple award-winning #klangberlins or the #spielzeit series on the live stream platform Twitch, we communicate our passion for classical music in a way that is accessible to very different audiences. We have also gained various partners for our educational and social commitments in the city, from housing associations to the children’s hospital.
1952–1959 Hermann Hildebrandt
1959–1960 Václav Smetáček
1960–1977 Kurt Sanderling
1977–1984 Günther Herbig
1984–1992 Claus Peter Flor
1992–1998 Michael Schønwandt
2001–2006 Eliahu Inbal
2006–2011 Lothar Zagrosek
2012–2018 Iván Fischer
from 2019 Christoph Eschenbach