Programme Guide

Since 1991, the Berliner Philharmoniker have commemorated the day when they were founded in 1882 by giving a concert on 1 May in a different European venue of special cultural and historical significance. For their first such visit in 1991, they travelled to Prague to mark the bicentenary of Mozart’s death, returning there in 2006 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth. It was at the famous National Theatre – renamed the Estates Theatre in 1798 – that Mozart had enjoyed some of his greatest triumphs with Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and especially Don Giovanni, which was specially written for the theatre. It was here that the Philharmoniker gave their European Concert in 2006.

Daniel Barenboim, who has been closely associated with the orchestra for more than fifty years, appeared in his tried and tested role as both conductor and soloist, opening the proceedings with the popular “Haffner Symphony” that Mozart wrote in the summer of 1782 based on an earlier serenade. He performed the symphony for the first time to great acclaim in Vienna in the spring of 1783. Barenboim then masterfully led the orchestra through the E flat Concerto No. 22 from the piano, just as Mozart is likely to have done: an acclaimed keyboard virtuoso, Mozart composed most of his piano concertos for his own particular use.

The first item on the programme after the interval was likewise performed without the need for outside help: the solo part in Mozart’s First Horn Concerto was taken by the young Czech horn player Radek Baborák, who was then the orchestra’s principal horn player. He was only eighteen when he won the ARD Music Competition in 1994, becoming the principal horn player with the Czech Philharmonic later that same year and joining the Berliner Philharmoniker in a similar capacity in 2003. He remained in Berlin until 2010. His performance of Mozart’s Horn Concerto was notable for what one critic called “extraordinary beauty and control”. The programme ended with the “Linz Symphony”, which Mozart wrote in only a few days in the autumn of 1783. The result is a masterpiece that nowhere betrays any sign of the speed with which it was composed.

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