The Berliner Philharmoniker have always been known for their outstanding, unmistakable sound. In 1972, its then Chief Conductor Herbert von Karajan, together with major figures from German industry, founded the Karajan Academy – an innovation at that time whose prototype is still followed by numerous orchestras. Karajan’s idea to train young, talented musicians close to the orchestra after their instrumental studies clearly paid off: today, about one third of the Berliner Philharmoniker are Academy graduates.
Every year, over 500 gifted young musicians from all over the world compete for a place at the Academy but only few are selected to be prepared for professional orchestral life at the Academy over two years alongside the orchestra members. Supported by a scholarship, 36 musicians from 18 nations are being trained in the current season. These young musicians prepare themselves specifically for a position in the orchestra’s own ranks and are expected to meet the same standards as the long-standing professionals beside them on the concert platform.
On the initiative, and through the financial support of a small circle of patrons, Herbert von Karajan’s idea has continued to be realized to this day, which his successors Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle also fully supported.