“I am a conservative who was forced to become a radical,” as the composer Arnold Schoenberg once said about himself. While contemporaries regarded him as a subverter of musical tradition, Schoenberg saw himself quite naturally as the successor of the great composers of the past. Surprisingly, he counted Johannes Brahms – who in the 19th century was seen as a conservative – as one of his role models. This connection was explored in a Berliner Philharmoniker concert in November 2016 under the direction of chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle: orchestral works by Schoenberg and his two foremost disciples Alban Berg and Anton Webern were juxtaposed with Brahms’s Second Symphony. In this brief introduction, Sir Simon Rattle talks about the programme concept.