Oct 29 2019

Berlin Philharmonie

Published by at 9:02 pm under PSO 2019 European Tour

The German ICE fast train delivered the Pittsburgh Symphony to Berlin about 1:15 Tuesday afternoon with a smooth ride on a crisp fall day from Hannover. The conversation on the ride ranged from the delights off the recent Iphone Pro, a strong recommendation for the HBO series on Chernobyl and a fascinatting story of a tour concert with Mariss Jansons (not with the Pittsburgh Symphony) where Bruckner’s 7th Symphony was on the program needing one percussionist for exactly one symbol crash and in only one concert on the tour. Somehow the percussionist missed his big moment. he was never heard.

Arrival in Berlin with Dr.Fotios Koummpouras, Violist Stephanie Trettick and violinist Ellen Chen Livingston

The Bruckner Ninth Symphony at the home of the Berlin Philharmonic seemed flawless. Igor Levit was featured in the gift shop with all of his cds and posters plus a vinyl lp of one release. The shop is one of the most elegant I have ever seen with a Berlin Philharmonic Montblanc pen, a Leuchturm note book, Grammy awards on display in a special case and giant vinyl lp sets plus lavish box sets produced by the orchestra.

Igot Levit vinyl lp in the gift shop at the Philharmonie

It was a full house for the Mozart 22nd Concerto and the Bruckner. Daniel Barenboim had been at the Philharmonie for two performances of the Ninth with his East West Divan Orchestra earlier ian the week. Igor Lvit played a Schubert Allegretto as an encore. Manfred Honeck introduced the Schubert Litany for the Feast of All Souls arragned by Max Reger explaining that it wouldn’t be good to have the Radtzky March just after the quiet ending of the Ninth.

Lothar Schacke of Kunstlersekretariat am Gaseig Munich with VP of Artistic Administration for the PSO Mary Persin and Manfred Honeck

As soon as we arrived I met my fiend and fellow Thiel College alum Ken Nein who has lived in Berlin for 44 years. It helped to fall in love with a German girl, his wife Ewa and they continue to enjoy their life in one of the most exciting cities in the world with their son Lukas. Ewa was singing in the Bach Choir she belongs to when the terrorist attack hit Berlin just three years ago at the Memorial Church the Gedachtniskirche.  Ken has taught English to Germans and done extensive work in the German library system. We went for apfelstrudel at the Cafe Einstein which was one of a hadnful of 19th century buildings to be left standing at the end of WWII. Several movies have been shot there including Inglorious Basterds from Quentin Tarentino. Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph  Goebbels set up his mistress at the villa. She was a film star, Henne Porten. The pumpkin soup was delicious with curry tang.

Thiel College grad Professor Ken Nein at Cafe Einstein in Berlin

Ken explained that Germans have recently enacted rent control as real estate deals have caused rents to rise across Germany.Ken and I both enjoyed the English major at Thiel and it was my adviser Dr Richard Schroeder that suggested ken should go to Germany if he wanted to learn German. Ken and I have a mutual friend in Rev. Paul Shutt who lives the monastic life at St Vincent’s in Latrobe I ‘m nostalgic and especially grateful that my tour sponsor is my alma mater along with one of our longest serving volunteers Sara Botkin and Botkin Family Wealth Management..  Ken doesn’t drive so he told me he can’t comment on the effort to establish speed limits on additional parts of the Autobahn which has been  huge issue in Deutschland.

Kurbiscremesuppe, the pumpkin soup at Cafe Einstein in Berlin


Building cranes are everywhere as they have been since the wall came down. We passed bits of it even one acquired by he elegant Italian restaurant Essenza.

Segment of the Berlin Wall at Essenza Italian Restaurant on Potsdamer Platz










We stopped for a look at the spot where WWII ended for Adolf Hitler the Fuhrerbunker. For most of the last century it has been a parking lot with no marker at all having been totally destroyed, filled in and ignored. Now a sign explains the events in the final days of the War and tourist groups make it a stop.

Group of tourists reads the sign for Hitler’s Fuhrerbunker, now a parking lot with a signboard for a nearby restaurant









Architecht Hans Scharoun created a masterpiece when he designed the home of the Berlin Philharmonic in the early 1960’s.

The Berlin Philharmonie home of the Berlin Philharmonic which hosted the PSO October 28









The Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Noah Bendix Balgley was backstage with wife Shan Shan Yao, a former member of the Pittsburgh Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. They are celebrating a new arrival, Ari.

Violinist Shanshan Yao and former Pittsburgh Symphony Concertmaster now Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster Noah Bendix Balgley








The commercial RTL network is showing the influence of American pop culture in Germany tonight with Bachelor In Paradise. I have the sound down on the tv while listening to  Klassik  Radio from Berlin on my portable Sony. In Frankfurt I heard the Sibelius Symphony No 2 that Lorin Maazel recorded in Pittsburgh on the Hessian Radio all night classical program. Gute Nacht