8 reasons we absolutely love the Berlin Philharmonic

28 October 2015, 12:43 | Updated: 4 January 2017, 10:16

It’s one of the greatest orchestras in the world – and we’re dedicating this week to all things Berlin Phil. Here are just some of the reasons we think this orchestra is the bee’s knees.

It has one of the best concert halls in the world

The stunning Berlin Philharmonie, built in the 1960s, is one of the greatest concert halls in the world.

Its acoustics are legendary – and what’s more, it’s address is Herbert-von-Karajan Street, which we are very much on board with.

berlin philharmonie

Choosing a conductor for the Berlin Phil is like electing a pope

When a new Pope needs to be elected, the members of the papal conclave lock themselves in the Sistine Chapel until they have reached a majority.

In much the same way, when the time comes to appoint a new conductor of the Berlin Phil, the players lock themselves into a room and vote until they, too reach a majority.

Simon Rattle pope hat

Digital concert hall

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Berlin Philharmonic could squeeze into your living room and play just for you?

Or if they could keep you company on your morning commute?

The clever people at the Berlin Phil thought so too – and created the Digital Concert Hall, so that classical music fans around the world can tune in to their live concerts and see great performances from their archive.

Can you hutch up to make room for the second violins please thanks?

And as a special offer for Classic FM listeners, you can try the Digital concert hall free for 48 hours with the code CLASSICFM (valid until 30 November)

Digital concert hall Berlin Philharmonic

They know how to carry off a great prank

The cheeky Berlin Phil musicians decided to play a trick on their concertmaster (or leader of the first violins) at a rehearsal for Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto.

Instead of playing the Prokofiev, the orchestra began playing the opening of the Mendelssohn Concerto.

Without missing a beat or indeed batting an eyelid, the phenomenally cool concertmaster, Daishin Kashimoto just switches to the Mendelssohn instead. Click on the image below to watch the whole thing.

*gapes in awe*

Berlin Philharmonic prank video

The legendary Herbert von Karajan was the orchestra’s longest-serving conductor

The great Austrian conductor was at the helm of the Berlin Phil for 35 years.

Under him the orchestra made a huge number of recordings, toured around the world and became the world-famous ensemble we know today.

Also, this is an excuse to bring out this classic joke:

karajan joke

They do the best outdoor concerts

The Waldbühne in Berlin is a fairy tale-level enchanting performance venue in woodland near the city.

It holds over 22,000 people and has become one of the city’s best-loved outdoor venues.

This Friday, we’re broadcasting one of the Berlin Philharmonic’s concerts from the Waldbühne, including some film favourites and Grieg’s Piano Concerto performed by Lang Lang.

Waldbuhne Berlin

You can hangout with the Berlin Phil’s horn section

Sarah Willis, one of the orchestra's horn players, hosts regular ‘Horn hangouts’ on her website.

There’s coffee, cake and plenty of geeky horn jokes. If anyone needs us, we’ll be right here binge watching all past episodes.

They sound flipping fantastic

And finally, let’s just take a moment to appreciate why the Berlin Philharmonic has a reputation as one of the greatest orchestras in the world.


Join us for the Full Works Concert every evening this week – and catch up on Listen Again for seven days afterwards – to enjoy that famous, fantastic Berlin Philharmonic sound.

Plus, you can win a set of recordings by the orchestra – enter here now.