The Magdeburgische Philharmonie is the opera and concert orchestra for the city in which Georg Philipp Telemann was born. Officially, the history of the orchestra starts in 1897, when the Magdeburger Theaterorchester was incorporated into municipal services. Even before this, though, an orchestra was driving the traditional musical life of the city on the River Elbe. Over the years, premières and first nights have included Richard Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot in 1836, Albert Lortzing’s Undine in 1845, Kurt Weill’s Der Silbersee in 1933, Berthold Goldschmidt’s Beatrice Cenci in 1994 and Violeta Dinescu’s ballet Effi Briest in 1998.
Throughout its history, the orchestra has collaborated with numerous leading conductors, including Richard Strauss, Hermann Abendroth, Bruno Walter and Hans Pfitzner. To this day, keeping alive works by Wagner and Strauss accounts for a broad swathe of the repertoire. General Musical Directors such as Fritz Kauffmann, Theodor Winkelmann, Josef Krug-Waldsee, Josef Göllrich, Walter Rabl, Walter Beck, Erich Böhlke, Ferdinand Drost, Gottfried Schwiers, Roland Wambeck, Mathias Husmann, Christian Ehwald, Gerd Schaller and Francesco Corti have defined the artistic profile of the orchestra. Kimbo Ishii from Taiwan has been the General Musical Director of the Magdeburgische Philharmonie since the 2010/2011 season.
In recent years, the orchestra has recorded a wide range of works onto CD, including those by Alexander Zemlinsky, Béla Bartók, Jaan Rääts, Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich. It made the first recordings of all three violin concertos by Hans Werner Henze (winner of the German Record Critics’ Award in 2005) and the German première of Giuseppes Zirkus for children. A rendition of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, including the Liebesverbot overture by Wagner, recently appeared on the Camerata Tokyo label. Further recordings featuring piano concertos by Hermann Goetz, soloist Davide Cabassi and Zdeněk Fibich’s opera The Bride of Messina conducted by GMD Kimbo Ishii are all under preparation.
Aside from its ten or so musical theatre premières, a dozen revivals and various guest appearances at home and abroad, the Magdeburgische Philharmonie can be experienced each season in 10 symphony concerts and various special concerts in Magdeburg. The musicians of the orchestra also present six chamber concerts annually.