May 2007


May 21, 2007 12:47


I followed the daunting finger.
And it led me somewhere magical.


It was none other than the Berlin Philharmonie, the home of the Berlin Philharmonic. Seating over 2,400 people, the building is built in the form of a pentagon. The main hall is like a cone with a few protruding angles: The audience sits on the slopes of the cone and the orchestra sits in the tip. The people sitting in the first row are therefore on nearly the same level as the performers!

I was privileged enough to find tickets for the sold-out Saturday (May 12) concert of the Berlin Philharmonic.* They played Mahler's Symphony No. 1 and Stravinsky's Petruschka. The concert was overwhelming! I half believed that I was dreaming when I took my seat. It felt impossible to be sitting in one of the most famed concert halls of the world and only minutes away from hearing what many consider the greatest orchestra of all time. It wasn’t until the Berlin Philharmonic launched into the Stravinsky’s Pertruschka that I knew that it wasn’t a dream. No one can dream up such a sound!

I couldn’t help but feel drunk as I watched the bows of the violin section move in perfect unison. The sound was so clear and crisp, and every player seemed to be really focused on making good music! The audience was spellbound as well. This was particularly evident after intermission, when the Berlin Phil played Mahler’s first symphony. It was deadly silent during the rests and there was no applause between movements! I marveled at the orchestra’s ability to play softly—Just soft enough to be audible to keep me on the edge of my seat, yearning to hear the slightest whisper.
As I leaned in with a growing comfort for the near-silence, a storm suddenly raged and I was swept away along with all the 2,400 some people sitting in the same hall. Drums banged, cymbals crashed, and the fiery blast of the brass roared like the ocean in my ears. And just when I began to think I couldn’t take any of it any because it was too immense for me to handle, the orchestra dropped back down to a peaceful whisper. They became the wind on a calm, peaceful day. Then, the orchestra changed gears so smoothly and gradually that I didn’t notice until it was too late. The violin section would slowly but swiftly increase their amount of bow and bow speed. When the string section reached the zenith, the pinnacle, the very summit of the Mahler, I felt ready to burst. Never have a heard anything like that Berlin Philharmonic concert.

*I have a newly gained respect for those people who wait on the standing room line concert after opera after concert.

3 replies | Archive link

Just don't drink any beer.

May 7, 2007 14:06

If all goes well, I'm going to be able to brag that I've heard the Berlin Philharmonic in their lovely irregularly shaped hall, sometime quite soon!

If all goes well, I'm going to be able to say that I stayed in a hotel with a 500 year history-- a hotel where Martin Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and David Oistrakh once stayed.

If all goes well, I'm going to play the role of pesky tourist in Leipzig by awing over the Bach exhibits and the choir in the church.

I'm excited. And I have this gleam in my eye. That can't be good.

4 replies | Archive link

More entries: June 2007April 2007

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

2023 Authenticate LA: Los Angeles Violin Shop
2023 Authenticate LA Shopping Guide Shopping Guide


Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine