The Berlin Philharmonic’s Popular Concerts, 1882-1934

From the beginning, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra distinguished between their main offerings and their “popular” concerts. Popular was the general term for cheaper concerts, and these were usually priced at 1 M., at least before World War One. Besides being cheap, these concerts were also tremendously popular for over fifty years.

The concerts were held concurrently with the subscription concerts during the regular season, from October through April. The first few years had a four times a week schedule, which became three times a week. In 1927 the concerts were reduced to twice a week, and ceased sometime during 1934. 

Reports from the 1890s described concerts with two intermissions, lasting three or four hours. The programs became more like the subscription concerts as time went on, but it is hard to know, since complete programs were rarely published.

The program was still holding to the “pops” style program as late as 1899: an announcement for a concert in the Berliner Tageblatt for 8 January 1899 listed Overtures to Egmont, Euryanthe, Wilhelm Tell, and Figaro’s Hochzeit; ballet music from Gound’s Faust; the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana, a Fantasy from “Bajazzo” by Leoncavallo, “and more.” The program for the 22nd of January similarly began with three overtures, then Smetana, “Vlatava,” Handel, “Largo arioso,” Delibes, Suite from Coppelia, and Bizet, Fantasy from Carmen.

Eating, drinking, and smoking were accommodated by seating at tables. The concerts were often performed without rehearsal, and had a different conductor, but the players were the same for the popular and the subscription concerts.  

Some of the conductors were originally concertmasters from the orchestra, but others arrived with experience conducting important orchestras. Franz Mannstaedt (1852-1932) had been Hofkapellmeister at Meiningen from 1883-85. August Scharrer (1866-1936) had been second conductor of the Kaim Orchestra in Munich from 1900-04. Gustav Kogel and Ernst Kunwald were so successful with the popular concerts that they went on to more prestigious positions: Kogel left to conduct the Frankfurt Museum Concert series, and  Kunwald succeeded Leopold Stokowski at Cincinnati.

The following lists give the dates for the popular concerts season and their conductors.1This information has been mostly gleaned from Peter Muck’s documentation. Also useful is Fritz Trümpi, The Political Orchestra: The Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics during the Third Reich, trans. Kenneth Kronenberg (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Concerts on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday

  • 17.10.82-18.4.83 K. Klindworth, at Kroll’s Etablissement in the Tiergarten (4x a week: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
  • 2.10.83-29.4.84 Ludwig von Brenner, from 1.4 Georg Rauchenecker (4x a week)
  • 1.10.84-30.4.85 Rauchenecker, from 5.5 Franz Mannstaedt (4x a week)
  • 4.10.85-28.4.86 Mannstaedt (3x a week: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, until 1927)
    • one week (24.9.86-30.9.86 daily, at the Central Hotel’s Wintergarten)
  • 3.10.86-30.4.87 Mannstaedt and Joachim Andersen 
  • 4.10.87-29.4.88 Gustav Kogel
  • 7.10.88-14.5.89 Kogel and Andersen
  • 6.10.89-15.5.90 Kogel and Andersen
  • 5.19.1890-18.4.1891 Gustav F. Kogel and Joachim Andersen
  • 4.10.1891-15.5.1892 Rudolf Herfurth
  • 2.10.1892-14.5.1893 Herfurth (until 30.4.93); Bernhard Breuer (from 1.5.93)
  • 5.10.1893-14.5.1894 Franz Mannstaedt
  • 5.10.1894-1.5.1895 Mannstaedt
  • 6.10.1895-22.4.1896 Mannstaedt
  • 4.10.1896-21.4.1897 Mannstaedt
  • 3.10.1897-20.4.1898 Josef Rebiček
  • 2.10.1898-23.4.1899  Rebiček
  • 3.10.1899-18.4.1900 Bernhard Breuer
  • 5.10.1900 – 14.4.1901 Josef Rebiček
  • 3.10.1901 – 4.1902 Rebiček and Otto Marienhagen
  • 5.10.1902-4.1903 Rebiček
  • 6.10.1903-4.1904  Rebiček, from January: Marienhagen
  • 2.10.1904-4.1905 August Scharrer and Marienhagen
  • 4.10.1905- 29.4.1906 Scharrer
  • 2.10.1906-28.4.1907 Scharrer and Marienhagen
  • 6.10.1907-22.4.1908 Ernst Kunwald
  • 6.10.1908 to 28.4.1909 Kunwald
  • 3.10.1909-27.4.1910  Kunwald and Marienhagen
  • 3.10.1909-27.4.1910  Kunwald and Marienhagen
  • 2.10.1910-30.4.1911  Kunwald and Marienhagen
  • 19.9.1911-30.4.1912 Kunwald and Marienhagen
  • 24.9.1912-27.4.1913  Camillo Hildebrand
  • 9.1913-29.4.1914 Hildebrand
  • 13.9.1914-28.4.1915 Hildebrand
  • 14.9.1915-30.4.1916  Hildebrand
  • 17.9.1916-19.4.1917  Hildebrand and Marienhagen
  • 19.9.1917-28.4.1918  Hildebrand and Marienhagen
  • 14.9.1918-29.4.1919 Hildebrand
  • 14.9.1919-27.4.1920  Richard Hagel
  • 1.9.1920-8.5.1921  Richard Hagel
  • 4.9.1921 – 14.5.1922  Hagel
  • 2.8.1922-29.4.1923 Hagel
  • 2.9.1923 – 21.4.1924 Marienhagen and Hagel
  • 2.9.1924-26.4.1925  Hagel, Marienhagen, and Franz Veit
  • 19.2.1926-27.4.1927 Julius Prüwer and Marienhagen
  • 11.9.1927-17.4.1928 Prüwer and Marienhagen (2x a week, Sunday and Tuesday, until 1934)
  • 25.9.1928-16.4.1929 Prüwer and Veit
  • 17.9.1929-27.4.1930 Prüwer and Veit
  • 16.9.1930-14.4.1931 Julius Prüwer and Franz Veit
  • 22.9.1931-17.4.1932 Prüwer
  • 13.9.1932-18.4.1933 Prüwer
  • 1933-1934 different conductors for concerts on Sundays and Tuesdays
  • Karl Klindworth
  • Ludwig von Brenner 19.09.1833-09.02.1902
  • Georg Rauchenecker 8.3.1844-17.7.1906
  • Joachim Andersen 1847-1909
  • Franz Mannstaedt 8.7.1852 -18.1.1932
  • Gustav Kogel
  • Rudolf Herfurth 09.02.1844-6.11.1907
  • Bernhard Breuer 23.3.1857-6.6.1901
  • Josef Rebíček 7.2.1844-24.3.1904
  • Otto Marienhagen 2.7.1868-9.8.1928
  • August Scharrer 1866-1936
  • Ernst Kunwald 14.4.1868-12.12.1939
  • Camillo Hildebrand 1876-1953
  • Richard Hagel 7.7.1872-1.5.1941
  • Franz Veit 20.5.1879-8.10.1959
  • Julius Prüwer b. Vienna 20.2.1874-1943
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3 comments

    1. In 1891 the Musical Times described concerts of 3-4 hours, and gave this program, which isn’t that long, so some works must have been left unmentioned.
      Part 1: Mendelssohn overture,Good Friday Music from Parsifal, Saint Säens Piano Concerto in G minor.
      Part 2:Mozart, Jupiter Symphony
      Part 3:Prelude to Lohengrin,Beethoven, Ruins of Athens

  1. wow! These popular concerts sound like a lot more fun! I wish more vestiges of them existed today.

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