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2018/19 Season

With approximately 1,300 events on offer annually, the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle enjoys a truly one-of-a-kind music programme in its range and diversity. This summary serves as a guide to the concert series and festivals that shape the 2018/19 season.

Musical Focuses of the 2018/19 Season

Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle © Johann Sebastian Hanel

Visiting Orchestras

Around 30 orchestras from across the world give guest performances at the Elbphilharmonie this season, including: the Philharmonic Orchestras of Vienna, Berlin and Munich, each of which visit for the second time. Celebrating their debuts are the Boston Symphony Orchestra – the fifth »Big Five« –, the Budapest Festival Orchestra with a two-part focus on Bartók and the Czech Philharmonic. The resident NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra takes the stage at the Elbphilharmonie 60 times; the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra 20 times. The Symphoniker Hamburg remains true to the Laeiszhalle as resident orchestra, while the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen takes up a residency in both concert halls.

Venice © Andrea Wyner

Festivals and Themes

The 100-year anniversary of Polish independence is a good opportunity to get to know that country's music better, from classical to jazz. The Venice Festival over Easter takes concertgoers on a gondola trip through the history of »La Serenissima«: the themes are the relationship with Byzantium, the Jewish ghetto and the latest music from the Floating City. In October it's all about American composer Charles Ives. In winter, »Lux aeterna« is dedicated to spiritual music and the 4th Hamburg International Music Festival 2019, with its not yet publicised programme, looks at the issue of »Identity«.

Teodor Currentzis
Teodor Currentzis © Olya Runyova

Conductors in Focus

Three of the greatest maestros of our time visit the Elbphilharmonie, each with three different ensembles. Teodor Currentzis, celebrated as a genre groundbreaker, presents a programme ranging from »La Traviata« to Dmitri Shostakovich's »Leningrad« for his comprehensive, seven-concert portrait. Andris Nelsons, principal conductor in Boston and Leipzig, gives guest performances with both his orchestras and the Vienna Philharmonic. Sir Simon Rattle honours Hamburg with a visit with three spectacular projects: a Rameau production of the Berlin State Opera, a »St John Passion« produced by Peter Sellars and a concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, which he has led since 2017.

Olga Neuwirth
Olga Neuwirth © Harald Hoffmannn

Current Music

In a concert hall with such visionary architecture as that of the Elbphilharmonie, it is inevitable that contemporary music will occupy an important place in its programme. Moreover, the breathtaking Grand Hall is predestined to be used for (half-)scenic productions: the focus on music theatre brings four lavish productions, culminating in Ligeti's »Le Grand Macabre«. The  »Multiverse George Benjamin« gives a comprehensive overview of this English composer's work, with performances of all three of his operas. With Olga Neuwirth, one of the most important women composers of our time appears as Artist in Residence – her portrait features multimedia works, ensemble music and chamber music. Ensemble Resonanz continues its »Resonanzes« series and »Below Deck« further encourages the future of music.

Mitsuko Uchida
Mitsuko Uchida © Justin Pumfrey / Decca

Piano Recitals

The piano is such a versatile instrument that it can replace a whole orchestra. The list of exquisite pianists who are visiting Hamburg this season is a long one indeed: the Laeiszhalle Grand Hall traditionally hosts the »Master Pianists« series, and in 2018/19 master pianists like Hélène Grimaud, Igor Levit, Jewgenij Kissin and Rudolf Buchbinder give recitals. In addition, big names such as Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Daniil Trifonov and Mitsuko Uchida can be heard at piano recitals at the Elbphilharmonie. With sensitivity and great expertise, the latter plays Schubert sonatas on two evenings, The strictly-themed »Pianomania« series is devoted to the prelude this season.

Artemis Quartett
Artemis Quartett © Nikolaj Lund

Chamber Music and Lieder Recitals

The Recital Halls of the Laeiszhalle and the Elbphilharmonie are particularly well suited for chamber music. In the intimate surroundings of these halls, the audience is seated close to the musicians and can follow every detail of the interaction on stage. The 2018/19 season brings together famous string quartets like the Artemis Quartett and brilliant lieder interpreters such as Ian Bostridge und Christiane Karg. In the Laeiszhalle Recital Hall, great soloists give guest performances in a variety of chamber music formations.

Huelgas Ensemble / Paul van Nevel
Huelgas Ensemble / Paul van Nevel © Damon De Backer

Das Alte Werk

The concert series »Das Alte Werk«, which has its home in the Laeiszhalle Grand Hall, is committed to bringing the sound of bygone eras back to life, using historic musical instruments and authentic playing techniques. Six top international ensembles from the early music scene guarantee an opulent realisation of this aim: the Belgian Huelgas Ensemble performs the first known opera by a female composer, »La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina« by Francesca Caccini, while the Accademia Bizantina under Ottavio Dantone delights the audience with its rediscovery of »Marc’ Antonio e Cleopatra« by Johann Adolf Hasse, a native of  Bergedorf near Hamburg.

Das Alte Werk
Angélique Kidjo
Angélique Kidjo © Gilles Marie Zimmerman

Jazz, World, Pop, Electronic

The jazz programme at the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle appeals to all music lovers who want to be up to date in the world of improvisation. The »Jazz Piano« series takes place as usual in the Recital Hall of the Laeiszhalle, the guitar is the focus in the Elbphilharmonie Recital Hall, while »Jazz at the Phil« brings big names such as Bugge Wesseltoft, the San Francisco Jazz Collective and Branford Marsalis to the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall. The »Around the World« and the »World Classical Music« series present both classical and non-classical music from every corner of the globe, while »Made in Hamburg« hooks up with the local music scene. Everything is allowed at »ePhil« in the resonanzraum St. Pauli – everything except a power shortage!

Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson © Ebru Yildiz


The »Reflector« series continues in the new season with two more outstanding artists: in February, American performance icon Laurie Anderson will be putting on a festival lasting several days in her own individual style. Together with friends, Anderson will show the entire gamut of her talent at her »Reflector«. Then in June the carte blanche goes to Nils Frahm: the Hamburg-born pianist and composer makes guest appearances not only in clubs and festivals, but also in the big concert halls. He creates sensitive contemporary music with influences from classical music, improvisation, ambient and dance.

Freiburger Barockorchester
Freiburger Barockorchester © Annelies an der Vegt

Operas and Oratorios

The Elbphilharmonie is home not only to world-class orchestras, but also to world-class singers. Major choral works such as the Mozart, Verdi and Brahms Requiems feature on this season's programme alongside operas spanning four centuries: from »La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina« by Francesca Caccini (1625), Jean-Philippe Rameau's »Hippolyte et Aricie« (1733), Mozart's »Don Giovanni« and Verdi's »La Traviata« to George Benjamin's »Written on Skin« and Olga Neuwirth's »The Outcast« (2016). Three performances each of György Ligeti's »Le Grand Macabre« as part of the Hamburg International Music Festival and »Die Fledermaus« for New Year's Eve are presented.

Operas and Oratorios
Elbphilharmonie Organ
Elbphilharmonie Organ © Peter Hundert

Simply Organ

»This sound really embraces people,« raves Iveta Apkalna, titular organist of the Elbphilharmonie, about the organ in the Grand Hall. This season, she takes up position at the console no fewer than three times to flood the Grand Hall with sound. One of her recitals forms part of the four-part subscription series »Simply Organ«, where top-class guest organists like Thierry Escaich can also be heard. On our »Organ Day«, the king of all instruments will be presented once again in all its facets: organ presentations explain how the huge instrument actually works, and in the evening several Hamburg organists literally pull out all the stops in the improvisation recital.

Elfi Baby Concert
Elfi Baby Concert © Claudia Höhne

Open Your Ears

Good music for everyone also means good music for young ones. The Elbphilharmonie offers a range of children's concerts, workshops and other event formats to help children discover the glorious world of music. A special emphasis is placed on active participation, as we know from experience that taking part is much more fun than sitting on the sidelines.