The Music Treasury for 3 February 2019 – Munich Philharmonic 125th Anniversary

This week, Dr Gary Lemco will be presenting works highlighting the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra (aka Münchner Philharmoniker), in celebration of the orchestra’s 125th Anniversary.

The program for The Music Treasury will include a wide range of composers — Reger, Prokofiev, Wolf, Copland, Berlioz and Mozart,  culminating with a performance of Brahms 2nd Symphony in D Major.

The show airs from KZSU in Stanford from 19:00 to 21:00 PST, as well as concurrent streaming from the station at


The Munich Philharmonic’s 125thAnniversary

The orchestra was founded in Munich in 1893 by Franz Kaim, son of a piano manufacturer, as the Kaim Orchestra. In 1895, it took up residence in the city’s Tonhalle (concert hall). It soon attracted distinguished conductors: Gustav Mahler first directed the group in 1897 and premiered his Symphony No. 4 and Symphony No. 8 with the orchestra, while Bruno Walter directed the orchestra for the posthumous premiere of Mahler’s Das Lied von der ErdeFelix Weingartner was music director from 1898 to 1905, and the young Wilhelm Furtwänglermade his auspicious conducting debut there in 1906. Meanwhile, Anton Bruckner pupil Ferdinand Löwe established an enduring tradition of Bruckner performance that continues to this day.

Throughout this time, the orchestra, which by 1910 was known as the Munich Konzertverein Orchestra, was privately funded, but during World War Ifinances became tight and players were called for military service, forcing the orchestra to cease operation. After the war, the orchestra was taken over by the city of Munich and restarted under the leadership of composer Hans Pfitzner, soon replaced by Bruckner pioneer Siegmund von Hausegger. In 1928, the orchestra acquired its current name.

During the World War II, the Tonhalle was destroyed and the orchestra, homeless, was again shut down for a period. After the war, fortunes recovered under the music directors Hans Rosbaud and Rudolf Kempe, and in 1979, Sergiu Celibidache took over, raising the orchestra to the highest world-class standards. Notoriously demanding of his players, Celibidache created a unique sound for the orchestra.

After Celibidache’s sudden death in 1996, James Levine took over as chief conductor, serving until 2004. Christian Thielemannbecame the orchestra’s music director. In 2009, the orchestra announced the scheduled conclusion of his tenure in 2011. In March 2010, Lorin Maazel was named the orchestra’s next chief conductor, effective with the 2012–2013 season. Early in 2014, Maazel cancelled concert engagements due to ill health. In June, he announced his resignation as music director, with immediate effect. In January 2013, the orchestra announced the appointment of Valery Gergiev as its next principal conductor as of 2015, with an initial contract through 2020.

Interestingly, the Munich Philharmonicis one of four principal orchestras in the city, along with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra. [Adapted from Wikipedia. LK]

Program List:
Reger: An die Hoffnung, Op. 124 (Ludwig/E. Jochum)
Prokofiev: 3 Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet – Ballet, Op. 64 (S. Celibidache)
Wolf: Italian Serenade (R. Kempe)
Copland” El Salon Mexico (R. Kempe)
Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part 4 (Giordani/van Dam/ J. Levine)
Mozart: Die Zauberfloete: “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schoen” (Wunderlich/Rieger)
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 (H. Knappertsbusch)