Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin © Simon Pauly
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin © Simon Pauly


When an enthusiastic radio listener from Deutschlandfunk Kultur wrote to the director of the station in February 2019 to present “the RSB with Vladimir Jurowski as the bright candle on the cake of the ROC”, “which it actually is,” the public perception of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin with its artistic director also outside the concert hall thus reflects the response beyond the region to timely concert broadcasts by the radio stations and not least the high esteem for the RSB. With 40% shareholding, the Deutschlandradio with its broadcasters Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandfunk Kultur is the largest shareholder of the Rundfunk-Orchester und -Chöre GmbH Berlin (ROC), founded in 1994, which holds the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and three other metropolitan orchestras. In addition, the ROC relies on other strong partners: the Federal Republic of Germany (35%), the State of Berlin (20%) and the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (5%).

Thanks to the close connection with Deutschlandfunk Kultur in Berlin, the Deutschlandfunk in Köln and the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, most of the symphony concerts of the RSB are broadcast on the radio. Many can be received worldwide via the affiliated broadcasters of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The cooperation with Deutschlandradio continues to bear rich fruits on CD. Three recordings under the direction of Vladimir Jurowski have opened a new chapter in recording activity since 2015, which is constantly being enhanced with high-profile concert recordings and studio recordings on CD. The ten live recordings of the large concertante Wagner cycle (2010 to 2013, PENTATONE) conducted by Marek Janowski had earned the greatest respect for the RSB in the international record market. Labels such as Capriccio, cpo, Orfeo, Naxos, and Sony Classical also continue to be produced. Many of the recordings have been awarded German and international record awards. But the RSB is also present live in national and international levels. It has been performing regularly for more than 50 years in Japan and Korea as well as at German and European festivals and music centres worldwide.

Vadimir Jurowski © Simon Pauly
Vladimir Jurowski © Simon Pauly

Taken off

Vladimir Jurowski has been the chief conductor and artistic director of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin since autumn 2017. With him, one of the most musically exciting, courageous in the programme, technically most adept and humanly upright conductors of the present, the Berliner Rundfunk ensemble has brilliant perspectives ahead. Vladimir Jurowski has taken over the RSB from his predecessor Marek Janowski in an excellent stage of development, as he does not tire of setting emphasis. Nevertheless, new quality features in orchestral culture, especially with regard to a greater coexistence in the artistic process, have already grown. The young American conductor Karina Canellakis will take the position of principal guest conductor at Vladimir Jurowski’s side in the future.

For many years, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin has occupied an internationally recognised position in the first series of the German radio orchestra and the top orchestras in Berlin. Recently Marek Janowski built up an exemplary competence of the orchestra from 2001 to 2016 for the German romantic and late romantic repertoire, setting an internationally acclaimed focus on the ten-part Wagner cycle and leaving behind a complete recording of symphonies by Hans Werner Henze (WERGO, 2014). Earlier, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos had raised the sound volume and precision of the interaction of the RSB to an exemplary level.

The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin goes back to the first musical radio hour of German radio in October 1923. The former chief conductors, including Sergiu Celibidache, Eugen Jochum, Hermann Abendroth, Rolf Kleinert and Heinz Rögner formed an orchestra that lived through the vicissitudes of the German History in the 20th century in a special way.

RSB © Robert Niemeyer
RSB © Robert Niemeyer

Manuscripts at the podium

The RSB has meanwhile become the foremost address for outstanding young conductors of the international music scene: Andris Nelsons, Kristjan Järvi, Yannick Nézet- Séguin, Vasily Petrenko, Jakub Hrůša, Alain Altinoglu, Omer Meir Wellber, Alondra de la Parra, Lahav Shani, Thomas Søndergård, Nicholas Carter, Antonello Manacorda or Ariane Matiakh. Many of them have made their respective Berlin début with the RSB. In the 2019/2020 season, Gabriel Bebeşelea and Gijs Leenaars will make their début in concerts of the RSB, while Andrey Boreyko, John Storgårds, and Michael Francis will also appear again as many of the previous débutantes mentioned above. From the middle generation, Mario Venzago and Peter Rundel could be won again to conduct the RSB. Frank Strobel again provides an exemplary film music concert.

The Serbian composer Marko Nikodijević will hold this position in 2019/2020 after Brett Dean, last season’s “composer in residence”. Since the founding in 1923, major composers of the 20th and now also of the 21st century have joined the podium of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin or performed their own works as soloists: Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schönberg, Igor Stravinsky, Wladimir Vogel, Kurt Weill und Alexander Zemlinsky and more recently Krzysztof Penderecki, Peter Maxwell Davies, Friedrich Goldmann, Berthold Goldschmidt, Siegfried Matthus, Matthias Pintscher, Peter Ruzicka, Heinz Holliger, Daniel Schnyder, Jörg Widmann, and Thomas Adès.

RSB © Robert Niemeyer
RSB © Robert Niemeyer

Think about tomorrow

The orchestra’s tasks include not only symphony concerts, chamber concerts, radio recordings and CD productions, but also family- and children’s concerts. Numerous musicians are involved in chamber music as well as in ambitious projects for adolescents with great personal commitment. The work with and for the young musicians and concert listeners now accounts for a third of the public activities of the RSB, with a large part being done behind the scenes and in the non-public space. The Verein der Freunde und Förderer des RSB e.V. is particularly committed to this sustainable, future-oriented field of activity of the RSB.

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