The Bamberg Symphony, Germany, 2019

Tour Dates: 23rd October - 2nd November, 2019

The Bamberg Symphony – Bavarian State Philharmonic has always enjoyed a special status in the music world.

Tour Dates
  • 23rd October - 2nd November, 2019

 

The Bamberg Symphony

The Bamberg Symphony – Bavarian State Philharmonic has always enjoyed a special status in the music world. Over 7,000 concerts in more than 60 countries and over 500 cities – with that record, the Bamberg Symphony is rightly considered the German touring orchestra. The circumstances of its birth make the Bamberg Symphony a mirror to German history. In 1946 former members of Prague’s German Philharmonic met fellow musicians who had also been obliged to flee their homes. In Bamberg they founded the »Bamberger Tonkünstlerorchester«, later renamed »Bamberger Symphoniker«. The origins of today’s Bamberg Symphony can be traced back to the musicians of Prague’s Estates Theatre – that still exists to this day – who premiered Mozart’s »Don Giovanni« on 29 October 1787. The link with Prague’s Orchestra makes Bamberg the inheritor of a musical tradition stretching back to the 19th and even 18th Centuries, to Mahler and Mozart – 230 years of Bohemian sound.

Evidence of the outstanding reputation it enjoys everywhere comes in constant invitations to visit leading festivals and to tour at home and abroad, and in prizes for the Orchestra’s recordings, e.g. the MIDEM Classical Award, the International »Toblach Composing Hut« Record Prize or the ECHO Klassik.

That reputation is also in no small part due to the Principal and Guest Conductors who have led and shaped the Bamberg Symphony over the decades. In September 2016, Jakub Hrůša assumed musical direction of the Orchestra. He is the fifth Chief Conductor in the history of the Bamberg Symphony.

He followed Jonathan Nott who was the orchestra’s Chief Conductor from 2000 to 2016.Furthermore, Herbert Blomstedt has also played a distinguished role in Bamberg as Honorary Conductor since March 2006; in January 2016, Christoph Eschenbach was also appointed Honorary Conductor of the Orchestra; and from 2010 to 2013 Robin Ticciati was Principal Guest Conductor.

The Bamberg Symphony appears regularly at all the top festivals. The orchestra performed several times at Lucerne Festival: in the summer 2015 with Giuseppe Verdi’s »Falstaff«, in the summer 2013, on the occasion of Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday, with Wagner’s »Ring« cycle and in 2007 with Jonathan Nott as »artiste étoile«. In that year, the Bamberg Symphony also performed for Pope Benedict XVI in the Papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Bishopric of Bamberg. In 2003, it made its debut at the Edinburgh International Festival, returning in 2005 and 2011 as orchestra in residence. The Bamberg Symphony has performed at the Salzburg Festival and Beijing Music Festival, at London’s Proms, the Festival in San Sebastián and, on four occasions, at New York’s Lincoln Center. The orchestra has undertaken extended trips round Europe, with concerts in Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Luxemburg, London, Vienna and Berlin, and tours of Japan, China and South America. In the autumn 2012, the Bamberg Symphony went on its 13th tour to Japan, for the first time with Honorary Conductor Herbert Blomstedt. With him they returned to Japan in the autumn 2016 and performed for the first time in South Korea. In 2016 the Bamberg Symphony also toured to South America for the 9th time and filled two blank spaces on its »musical world map« with concerts in Monte Carlo and Oman. In February 2017 they went on their 9th tour to the USA with their Honorary Conductor Christoph Eschenbach.

In addition the Bamberg Symphony is a frequent guest at renowned concert halls of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, such as Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Philharmonie Essen, Munich’s Herkulessaal, Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Tonhalle Zurich as well as at the leading festivals such as Beethovenfest Bonn, Rheingau Music Festival, Mozartfest Würzburg and Bad Kissingen Summer Festival.

The Bamberg Symphony’s collaboration with Bavarian Radio dates back to the 1950s; today they still enjoy a close partnership, the source of countless concert relays, studio recordings and coproductions for CD. Coinciding with the start of his tenure as Chief Conductor, Jakub Hrůša’s first CD with the Bamberg Symphony, Smetana’s Má vlast, was released in autumn 2016. A project that the Orchestra has been working on for ten years was the recording of all completed symphonies of Gustav Mahler under the direction of Jonathan Nott and released by the Swiss label Tudor. Some of the recordings have been awarded international prizes such as the International »Toblach Composing Cabin« Record Prize and the 2010 MIDEM Classical Award. Furthermore, they have recorded the complete Symphonies of Schubert, coupled with contemporary compositions on the idea of ‘Schubert’, including works by Henze, Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Bruno Mantovani. Other recordings include the first version of Bruckner’s Third Symphony and music by Janáček and Stravinsky.

It is not only for its concerts that the Bamberg Symphony enjoys worldwide renown. In the spring of 2004 the Orchestra mounted the first edition of The Mahler Competition, the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, which was quickly recognized internationally as the most important forum of its kind. For Gustavo Dudamel, winner of the very first Competition, success in Bamberg lit the fuse under a meteoric rise which has seen the young Venezuelan courted by the world’s leading orchestras. The latest Mahler Competition took place in May 2016 and was won by Kah Chun Wong from Singapore.

In 2010 the Bamberg Symphony also launched its Orchestra Academy, which enables talented young musicians to spend two years experiencing the daily routine of work in a top ensemble. This gives them a spring-board into a professional career in international orchestras and the Bamberg Symphony a guarantee that the legendary »Bamberg sound« will be passed on to the next generation of players.

Chief Conductor: Jakub Hrůša

In September 2016 Jakub Hrůša assumed musical direction of the Bamberg Symphony. He is the fifth Chief Conductor in the history of the Orchestra. “I am truly delighted to be Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony”, says Jakub Hrůša. “Even before I had a chance to conduct this jewel among European orchestras, I had been a huge admirer. They are an embodiment of orchestral culture, with everything imagined by this term. And with the Orchestra having its origins in Prague, we breathe the same musical air, sharing our cultural backgrounds, being artistically and historically very close. With the Bamberg Symphony, every phrase can turn to be a little miracle, and every concert is a transfiguration.”

Born in the Czech Republic and described by Gramophone as ‘on the verge of greatness’, Jakub Hrůša is also Permanent Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Principal Guest Conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO), and served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of PKF–Prague Philharmonia from 2009 to 2015.

He is a regular guest with many of the world’s greatest orchestras. Recent highlights have included Bohemian Legends and The Mighty Five – two major series specially devised for the Philharmonia Orchestra; a two-week focus on Martinů and Roussel for Orchestra Philharmonique de Radio France; and performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, DSO Berlin, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In the season 2015/2016, he made his debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Filarmonica della Scala and in October 2016 with the Boston Symphony. 

In the season 2016/2017 he conducted the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for the first time and made his debuts with New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra.

As a conductor of opera, he has been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival, conducting The Cunning Little Vixen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni and La bohème, and serving as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years. Elsewhere he has led productions for Vienna State Opera (a new production of The Makropulos Case), Opéra National de Paris (Rusalka), Frankfurt Opera (Il trittico), Finnish National Opera (Jenůfa), Royal Danish Opera (Boris Godunov), and Prague National Theatre (The Cunning Little Vixen and Rusalka).

As a recording artist, he embarked on a new partnership with Tudor and the Bamberg Symphony. Coinciding with the start of his tenure as Chief Conductor, his latest disc, Smetana’s Má vlast with Bamberg Symphony, was released in autumn 2016. He has also released six discs for Supraphon including a live recording of Smetana’s Má vlast from the Prague Spring Festival. He has made live recordings of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie and Suk’s Asrael Symphony with TMSO for Octavia Records; and other recordings include the Tchaikovsky and Bruch violin concertos with Nicola Benedetti and the Czech Philharmonic (Universal), and a series of three discs with PKF-Prague Philharmonia for Pentatone, including orchestral works by Dvořák, and cello concertos with Johannes Moser.

Jakub Hrůša studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where he now lives with his wife and two children. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle. In 2015 he was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize.

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