The Great Performances Series - concert by Norddeutscher Rundfunk

Norddeutscher Rundfunkt Sinfonieorchester (Hamburg)

In summer 1945, an officer of the British Occupational Army and a conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt decided to establish a symphonic orchestra. Several months later, the first concert took place, and this was the beginning of NDR orchestra in Hamburg, which was called by an American newspaper “the old world`s youngest major symphony orchestra.” Nobody predicted then that it was going to become one of the best German orchestras after World War II.

Under such directors and conductors as Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Moshe Atzmon, Klaus Tennstedt, Günter Wand and John Eliot Gardiner, the orchestra developed and perfected its repertoire of classical and Romantic music. It undertook first performances of numerous works of contemporary composers (S.Bussotti, H.W.Henze, R.Lachenmann, G.Ligeti, L.Nono, K.Penderecki, A.Schoenberg, I.Stravinsky, B.A.Zimmermann). The time when the orchestra was managed by Günter Wand was particularly important. By 1991 the orchestra had recorded all symphonies of Beethoven’s and Brahms’s, as well as most Bruckner’s symphonies (no 3-9), obtaining enthusiastic reviews of musical critics. In 1991-94 the orchestra was run by John Eliot Gardiner, and later further developed by Herbert Blomstedt (since 1996). In the 1998/99 artistic season the management was taken over by Christoph Eschenbach, who has succeeded in finding the common ground with the musicians.

NDR-Sinfonieorchester has recorded many symphonic works for radio and television. It regularly performs in Hamburg, Cologne, Lübeck and Bremen. Thanks to regular concert tours, it has gained international renown.

Christoph Eschenbach

Excellent pianist and prominent conductor. Born in Wroc³aw in 1940, he started studying music in Hamburg. In 1951 he received the first prize for young pianists at the Steinway Competition. He began his piano studies in Cologne; he then studied conducting in Hamburg under W. Brückner-Rüggeberg and piano under E. Hansen. In 1965 he won Klara Haskil Competition in Lucerne and started his international piano career. Since then he has given many solo recitals, played in duet with Justus Frantz, appeared in chamber ensembles, and accompanied D. Fischer-Diskau. In 1972 he made his debut as conductor, leading A. Bruckner’s Symphony no 3. Then he conducted newer and newer repertoire, including operas, and assumed numerous responsible posts. In 1981 he became first visiting conductor in Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, and then in London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1988 he took over the prestigious position of Artistic Director in Houston Symphony Orchestra. His performance with this orchestra was awarded Diapazon d`Or in 1998. Among his many recordings are works by Mozart, Dvoøák, Brahms, Mahler, Bruckner, K. Weill, E. Carter and Schnittke, recorded for such phonographic companies as Koch, Virgin Classics, EMI and Pickwick International, Teldec, Decca, and BMG Classics.

In 1999 Eschenbach became General Director of Norddeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and Artistic Director of the Music Festival in Schleswig-Holstein. Despite his many performances, he still finds time in summer to teach master classes for young instrumentalists and singers in Ravinia. In 1990 and 1993 Christoph Eschenbach was awarded German medals, Commander’s and Officer’s Cross of Merit, for his achievement in piano and conducting.

Barto Tzimon

He studied in the renowned Julliard School of Music in New York with the well-known piano teacher Adele Marcus; he was also trained as conductor. In 1980 he received honourable mention from Tangelwood Institute as best conductor from his class, he also won awards at Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in two consecutive years (1982/83). He started his international career in 1985 with a debut at Spoleto Festival in Italy, after which he received invitations to perform in Vienna and Salzburg. Since his concerts in Wiener Musikverein and at the Salzburg Festival, where he had come invited by Herbert von Karajan, Tzimon Barto played numerous concerts all over the world, e.g. with Berliner Philharmonisches Orchester, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and NHK Symphonie Orchestra. His concerts in the United States resulted in his co-operation with such orchestras as Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco and Houston Symphony, National Symphony Washington and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

For the last ten years, Tzimon Barto has regularly performed in European music capitals as well, developing the remarkable career of a younger generation American pianist at both sides of the Atlantic. In the 1997/98 season, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano concert no 1 and Houston Symphony Orchestra.

What merits particular emphasis as notable achievement in chamber music is his highly successful tour of recitals for two pianos with Christoph Eschenbach, while the concerts with Jazz Entertainer Al Jarreau has confirmed his versatility.

Tzimon Barto’s recordings for EMI company include piano concertos by Ravel, Prokofiev, Rakhmaninov, Liszt and Chopin, and solo recitals of Schumann’s, Liszt’s and Chopin’s works.

Tzimon Barto lives in Florida. He speaks five languages fluently, and has studied Classical Greek, Hebrew and Latin. He has a son.



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