The Berliner Philharmoniker and Seiji Ozawa at Suntory Hall in 1986

30 Oct 1986
From Suntory Hall, Tokyo

Berliner Philharmoniker
Seiji Ozawa

  • Franz Schubert
    Symphony No. 7 in B minor, D 759 “Unfinished” (27 min.)

  • Richard Strauss
    Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), op. 40 (51 min.)

  • free

    Interview
    30 years of Suntory Hall – Memories of musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker (7 min.)

The Berliner Philharmoniker and the Japanese public have always had a special relationship, characterised by deep mutual affection. So it was no surprise that the Philharmoniker was the first international guest orchestra invited to appear at Suntory Hall in Tokyo following its opening on 12 October 1986. Since then, the Berliner Philharmoniker have returned to the all-classical venue in Tokyo every time they have toured Japan.

The orchestra must also feel very much at home there, as the architecture of Suntory Hall (named after a brewing and distilling company), with its public galleries sloping like vineyards, is clearly influenced by the lines of the Berlin Philharmonie. The services of acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota were secured for the hall. He also later designed the acoustics for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

The two concerts performed by the orchestra when the hall was inaugurated were originally to be under the direction of the then chief conductor Herbert von Karajan who had had an advisory role in the construction of the hall, but who then had to cancel for health reasons. However, there could have been no better stand-in than Seiji Ozawa: one of the main bridges between European and Asian musical cultures and, at the same time, a close friend of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The Japanese maestro – with whom the orchestra have been playing together for over 50 years – was appointed an honorary member by the orchestra in 2016.

The concert programme includes two very different works of the symphonic core repertoire: Richard Strauss’s expansive, superlatively virtuoso tone poem Ein Heldenleben and Franz Schubert’s rather inward-looking, poignantly intense Seventh Symphony, known due to its two movement form as the Unfinished.

© 1986 NHK

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