A new chapter opened for the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO Berlin) on 7 September 2012: Tugan Sokhiev conducted the DSO as Music Director for the first time during the Musikfest Berlin, 65 years to the day after the orchestra’s first public concert. After two years as the Designated Music Director he thus officially succeeded Ferenc Fricsay, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Chailly, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kent Nagano and Ingo Metzmacher. The response speaks for itself: »At his inaugural concert, Sokhiev – a springy, intelligent conductor who reacts to the music as quick as a flash – enthralled his orchestra, controlling with a light touch right from the start Stravinsky’s ›Pulcinella‹ Suite and, on the second half, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony, which is rarely performed in Germany,« the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote.
In 2013, the DSO looks back on a 67-year tradition as a Berlin radio and concert orchestra. Founded in 1946 as the RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester by Radio in the American Sector (RIAS), its first Principal Conductor Ferenc Fricsay set standards in repertoire, sound ideal and media presence starting in 1948. Music of the 20th century immediately became a programming staple, in addition to interpretations of the classical repertoire characterised by transparency, structural conciseness and plasticity.
Starting in 1956 the radio station Sender Freies Berlin (now Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, rbb) participated in sponsoring the orchestra; this is why it changed its name to Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin (RSO Berlin). The RSO acquired an excellent reputation in Berlin and on numerous tours, with radio and television productions, through its concert programs, as well as significant conductors who committed to them. After Ferenc Fricsay’s early death, the young Lorin Maazel 1964 took over artistic responsibility for the orchestra, followed by Riccardo Chailly in 1982 and Vladimir Ashkenazy in 1989. In 1993 the RSO changed its name to Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Kent Nagano was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director in the 2000|2001 season. He led the orchestra to engagements at the Salzburg Festival, the Baden-Baden Festival House and the Paris Théâtre du Châtelet. Kent Nagano bade the orchestra farewell in 2006; since then he has been associated with them as its honorary conductor. Ingo Metzmacher held the position of the DSO’s Music Director from 2007 to 2010. His annual programs were characterised by overarching themes. By launching the Casual Concerts concert format he emphasised the orchestra’s openness and its desire to address new groups of listeners.
The DSO’s symphony concerts in the Berliner Philharmonic Hall are recorded by Deutschlandradio Kultur and by the rbb Kulturradio, and are regularly broadcast in Germany and throughout Europe and beyond via the European Broadcasting Union. Selected concerts outside of Germany are recorded by Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcaster for radio and television.
The DSO is also globally present with numerous prize-winning CD recordings. In 2011 it received the ›Grammy Award‹ for the world premiere recording of Kaija Saariaho’s opera ›L’amour de loin‹, conducted by Kent Nagano. Among other CD publications of recent years, recordings with Ingo Metzmacher on ›Phoenix Edition‹, Christoph Eschenbach on ›Capriccio‹ and with Yutaka Sado on ›Challenge Classics‹ stand out. Recordings of contemporary music have been released on ›Neos‹ and ›Kairos‹. Furthermore, the orchestra has released several live opera recordings from the Baden-Baden Festival House as DVDs on ›Arthaus Musik‹. The DVD series ›Monuments of Classical Music‹ produced by Deutsche Welle has received several awards.
Over and above its concerts in Berlin, the DSO is active in international music life with numerous guest appearances. Concert tours have led the orchestra to Russia, Asia, North and South America and Lebanon. In recent years it has given guest performances in Brazil and Argentina, in Japan, China, Malaysia and Abu-Dhabi, and a number of tour concerts in Eastern Europe in an ongoing collaboration with Deutsche Welle and the German Federal Foreign Office.
Besides performances at national and international festivals such as the Rheingau Music Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the BBC Proms and the Beethovenfest Bonn, the DSO can regularly be experienced in the major concert halls of Europe such as the Vienna Musikverein, the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.