Since its founding in 1893 the Münchner Philharmoniker has left an indelible imprint on Munich’s cultural life under the leadership of renowned conductors. Gustav Mahler conducted the Orchestra in the world premieres of his 4th and 8th Symphonies, and in November 1911, Bruno Walter conducted the world première of Das Lied von der Erde, just six months after Mahler’s passing.
The Orchestra’s first concert after the Second World War, opened by Eugen Jochum, included the overture to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whose music had been ostracized during the Nazi era. With Hans Rosbaud, the Philharmonic gained an outstanding leader in the autumn of 1945, a man who passionately advocated modern music.
The Orchestra has had a number of eminent Chief Conductors over the years, including Eugen Jochum, Fritz Rieger, Rudolf Kempe, Sergiu Celibidache, James Levine and Christian Thielemann. As of the 2015 – 16 season, the position of chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic is held by Valery Gergiev. Tours have taken the Munich Philharmonic to numerous European cities as well as to Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and the USA.
“From the very first note of the opening tremolo it was clear that this was going to be a fantastic performance. Bruckner’s music requires total engagement from every player in every note, and that’s what the Munich Philharmonic gave…. The violins in particular have such a deep sound and range of colours, that at times they sound almost like cellos. The woodwind section have retained a way of playing which seems to have been forgotten by many orchestras, with the focus being on the sectional sound, breathing and blending together, rather than on the solos…. In [the slow] movement we finally reach the true fortissimo which we’ve been waiting for, and in the hands of this wonderful orchestra it was truly awe-inspiring. Never have I heard an orchestra produce so much sound without even a hint of forcing. This concert was supposed to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the orchestra’s most famous music directors [Sergiu Celibiache], who turned them into one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Many see this time as the orchestra’s heyday, but this performance from this incredible orchestra, showed that Celibidache’s legacy lives on in this orchestra that really has it all.”
(Matthew Lynch, Bachtrack)
“The Munich Phil revel in the rich orchestral colours and can be as light as air when required.”