The Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie (North West German Philharmonic) is a German symphony orchestra based in Herford. It was founded in 1950 and, along with Philharmonie Südwestfalen and Landesjugendorchester NRW, is one of the 'official' orchestras (Landesorchester) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The orchestra has been shaped by conductors such as Wilhelm Schüchter, Hermann Scherchen and Andris Nelsons, has regularly served several cities in northwest Germany, toured internationally and recorded unusual repertory. Eugene Tzigane was conductor from 2010 to 2014, succeeded by Yves Abel.
A predecessor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie was founded in 1946 under this name in Bad Pyrmont by members of the former Linzer Reichs-Bruckner-Orchester and the Prager Deutsche Philharmonie. In 1950 this orchestra merged with the Herforder Sinfonisches Orchester. The new orchestra was first named Städtebund-Symphoniker, but in 1951 Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie.
The orchestra is funded partly by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and an association of communities in the region Ostwestfalen-Lippe. Members of the association are the cities Bad Salzuflen, Bünde, Detmold, Herford, Lemgo, Minden and Paderborn and the districts Herford und Lippe.
The 78 musicians play about 120 concerts per year, mainly in the cities which support the orchestra, but also on international tours to the United States and Japan, among others. They have played in concert halls such as the Berliner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Dortmund and Großes Festspielhaus in Salzburg.
The orchestra collaborates with the public radio station WDR3. They recorded more than 200 records and CDs. The orchestra has accompanied singers such as Anna Netrebko, Jose Cura, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti und Renée Fleming. The players are engaged in pedagogical programs for schools and young listeners, reaching more than 12,000 children a year.
The orchestra conducts an international summer academy, in 2010 with Fabio Bidini.
- 1950–1952: Rolf Agop
- 1952–1953: Eugen Pabst
- 1953–1955: Wilhelm Schüchter
- 1955–1956: Albert Grünes
- 1956–1961: Kurt Brass
- 1959–1960: Hermann Scherchen
- 1961–1963: Hermann Hildebrand
- 1963–1969: Richard Kraus
- 1969–1971: Werner Andreas Albert
- 1971–1974: Erich Bergel
- 1975–1987: János Kulka
- 1987–1991: Alun Francis
- 1992–1998: Michail Jurowski
- 1998–2006: Toshiyuki Kamioka
- 2006–2009: Andris Nelsons
- 2010–2014: Eugene Tzigane
- 2014–2020: Yves Abel
- from 2021: Jonathon Heyward
Wilhelm Schüchter conducted in 1955 a recording of Smetana's opera The Bartered Bride performed in German, with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, the chorus of the Landestheater Hannover, Erna Berger, Rudolf Schock, Gottlob Frick, Hanns-Heinz Nissen, Christa Ludwig, Theodor Schlott and Marga Höffgen.
In 1960 Hermann Scherchen recorded works of Max Reger with alto Margarethe Bence and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, including Eine Lustspielouvertüre (Comedy Overture), Serenade for orchestra, Eine romantische Suite, "An die Hoffnung", Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven and Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Mozart.
Werner Andreas Albert conducted the orchestra in a recording of Robert Volkmann's orchestral works, two ouvertures, two symphonies and a cello concerto with soloist Johannes Wohlmacher.
Alun Francis conducted a recording of Carl Reinecke's four piano concertos with pianist Klaus Hellwig.
Conducted by Michail Jurowski, they played in 1995 the premiere recording of Dmitri Shostakovich's unfinished opera The Gamblers after Nikolai Gogol, completed by Krzysztof Meyer in 1981, sung in Russian by soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre.
Max Reger's monumental Der 100. Psalm was performed in the Reinoldikirche in Dortmund as part of the Max-Reger-Wochen 2004 in a collaboration with four choirs: Chor der Hochschule für Musik Herford, Westfälische Kantorei, Münsterchor Herford, and Chor des Städtischen Musikvereins Hamm.
In November 2006 the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, conducted by Andreas Delfs, accompanied Renée Fleming in the Berlin Philharmonie. With the EuropaChorAkademie the orchestra played there Francis Poulenc's Stabat Mater and Anton Bruckner's Mass in F minor.
Eugene Tzigane conducted two concerts in the Tonhalle Zürich, works by Dvořák and Tschaikovsky on 3 May 2010, and Carl Maria von Weber's ouverture to Der Freischütz, Mozart's Clarinet concerto with Sebastian Manz, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 on 4 May 2010. Tzigane conducted the concerts marking the orchestra's 60th anniversary in October 2010, Don Juan of Richard Strauss, the Violin Concerto of Erich Korngold, with soloist Philippe Quint, and the Symphony in D minor of César Franck.
In 2017, Dirk Kaftan conducted the first series of concerts, performing Alban Berg's Violin Concerto with Liza Ferschtman as soloist, and Bruckner's Fourth Symphony at seven locations, including Hamm and Marburg.
Wagner project in Minden
The orchestra has played in productions of stage works by Richard Wagner, an ongoing project of the Stadttheater Minden on an initiative of the Richard-Wagner-Verband Minden. The conductor has been Frank Beermann, GMD of the Chemnitz Opera:
- 2002 Der fliegende Holländer
- 2005 Tannhäuser
- 2009 Lohengrin
- 2012 Tristan und Isolde
- 2015 to 2019: Der Ring des Nibelungen. The project culminated in Der Ring in Minden, begun in 2015 with annual productions of the four parts, and two complete Ring cycles in 2019.
Throughout the project, the orchestra was positioned at the back of the small stage. After the Ring cycle, a reviewer from the FAZ described the orchestra as "wunderbares Wagnerorchester" (wonderful Wagner orchestra) precisely because it was unfamiliar with Wagner and had to learn every measure. He mentioned its brilliant, glowing and somber colours. and called it the "omniscient narrator and commentator, as well as the source of energy for the action" ("allwissender Erzähler und Kommentator wie Energiequelle des Geschehens").
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