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The Berlin Philharmonic Story
The Berlin Philharmonic Story
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2005     1hr 0min


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Movie Details

Creator: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical, Documentary
Studio: Euroarts
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 01/18/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, German

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Movie Reviews

The Berlin Philharmonic Story
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 01/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD is a 60-minute film by Günter Atteln that was made for German and Japanese television in 2002. It traces the history of the Berlin Philharmonic from its beginning to almost the present day--from Hans von Bülow to the point at which Simon Rattle was about to take over as music director. It is also, to some extent, a history of the city of Berlin through two world wars, including the Nazi era, with emphasis on the effect this all had on the orchestra and on the city's role in the world of the arts. A good deal of attention is paid to the post-WWII rebuilding of the city. There is a tour of the still fascinating Philharmonie, designed by architect Hans Scharoun. There are many interviews with current and retired members of the orchestra, including some who were there in the late Nazi days and the early Furtwängler (and Celibidache) days. Also included are interviews with frequent BPO conductor Bernard Haitink and with Rattle. There are many clips--going back to the earliest days of sound film--of the orchestra playing. We even get the sound--but of course no video--of Arthur Nikisch conducting. There is a great deal of attention paid, not surprisingly, to black-and-white film of Furtwängler (and a little bit of the young Sergiu Celibidache, who co-directed up to the time of Furtwängler's denazification after WWII) conducting and rehearsing the orchestra. There are moving comments by long-retired players who tell of the members of the orchestra breaking down in tears on hearing of Furtwängler's death in 1954. Of course there is plenty of footage of Herbert von Karajan. The question of Nazi collaboration by Furtwängler and Karajan is touched on lightly without taking a stance about it. There is a much footage showing Claudio Abbado taking over as the orchestra's fifth-ever music director in 1989 and conducting the orchestra at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A cultural history of Berlin in the twentieth century is touched on. Much attention is paid to the current artistic ferment in the city and a comparison is made with a similar period in the 1920s.

The DVD comes without an enclosed booklet, but it isn't much missed. One has the option of having the voice-over narrative either in German or English, and when people speaking either of those languages are interviewed there are subtitles available, if one chooses, in the other language. Sound is in PCM Stereo 1. Videography is crisp in the modern images and as good as one could expect in the historic footage.

This is a fascinating document and will be of real interest to anyone with curiosity about the orchestra, the city, the several music directors and twentieth century history of Germany. I might have preferred more uninterrupted music and less talk, but I suspect for others the mix of narration, interviews and musical footage would be acceptable.

Scott Morrison"
The Berlin Philharmonic Story
David B. Housh | Southern California | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A uniquely informative and satisfying story both musically and historically. Ingeniously weaves history of Berlin Philharmonic and its conductors into the context of major world events of each era. A first class production."
Great Video
J. O'Preska | Heidelberg, Germany | 08/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I absolutely agree with the two reviews given below. This is an excellent, informative DVD about a great symphony orchestra. Interesting interviews with both performers and conductors, plus relevant information on the background of the BPO and of its relationship to Berlin, made for a uniquely enjoyable viewing and learning experience. Highly recommend."