2019/20 Season All concert series, festivals and spotlights – an overview of the 2019/20 season

Focuses of the 2019/20 Season

Visiting Orchestras

In the 2019/20 season as well, some 40 international top orchestras will be coming and going at the Elbphilharmonie. Many of the world's leading orchestras are already regular guests in the Grand Hall. The Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra return to Hamburg, while ensembles making their Elbphilharmonie debut include orchestras from San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Oslo and Stockholm. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra welcomes its new principal conductor Alan Gilbert, and the Symphoniker Hamburg remain faithful to the Laeiszhalle as its Orchestra in Residence.

Britain Calling
Britain Calling © Madrugada Verde

Festivals and Spotlights

With four concerts, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the charismatic music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, is at the centre of »Britain Calling«, the festival which focuses on English music spanning the last 100 years. The Shostakovich contemporary Mieczysław Weinberg and the Greek-French architect of sound Iannis Xenakis are featured in two composer portraits. Manfred Eicher, founder and head of the Munich-based record label ECM, presents his favourite projects, while »Ganz Wien« depicts the darker side of Viennese music beyond the classical realm. The »Silk Road« Easter festival invites us to get to know the music played along the 4,000 mile long trade route, and the 5th Hamburg International Music Festival, the programme of which will be announced in November, is dedicated to the topic of »Belief«.

Alan Gilbert
Alan Gilbert © Peter Hundert

Conductors in Focus

Some of today's most exciting conductors can be heard on more than one evening with their own orchestra or as guest conductors of a different ensemble. To mark Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Andris Nelsons conducts the composer's nine symphonies, while Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla celebrates the 100th anniversary of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Thomas Hengelbrock embarks on a new concert series in Hamburg together with his Balthasar Neumann ensembles. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra welcomes its new principal conductor with the »Sounds like Gilbert« festival. François-Xavier Roth is one of the most versatile conductors working today, and in this season he makes guest appearances with three very different orchestras. And Iván Fischer appears in four concerts with his Budapest Festival Orchestra featuring the Beethoven piano concertos (soloist: András Schiff) and plenty of music by Antonín Dvořák.

Eva Reiter
Eva Reiter © Moritz Schell

Current Music

In a concert hall with such visionary architecture as the Elbphilharmonie, contemporary music has a fixed place on the programme. Unsuk Chin from Korea is next season's Composer in Residence with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, and Sofia Gubaidulina is in the spotlight at the 5th Hamburg International Music Festival. Austrian composer Eva Reiter is featured in a portrait: Reiter writes original, electronically alienated music, but she has her roots in early music, and plays the viola da gamba and the bass recorder. And it's always worth going »Below Deck« at the Elbphilharmonie to sample the projects of the Hamburg-based Decoder Ensemble.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven © Joseph Karl Stieler

Beethoven Anniversary 2020

It is not without good reason that he is seen as a musical Titan: Ludwig van Beethoven, born on 17 December 1770, achieved perfection in nearly all musical genres, bringing the classical era to its culmination and throwing wide the door to romanticism and the modern age. The greatest interpreters of our time celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, with some series spread over two seasons: Andris Nelsons and the Vienna Philharmonic perform the nine symphonies, Igor Levit plays all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas, and Thomas Hengelbrock contributes a reconstruction of the four-hour academy concert that Beethoven gave in 1808. François-Xavier Roth transfers this idea to the present day and calls his concert »Beethoven Academy 2020«.

Artemis Quartett
Artemis Quartett © Felix Broede

Chamber Music and Lieder Recitals

The Recital Halls at the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle are both particularly well suited to chamber music and song recitals. In intimate surroundings, the audience is closer to the artists and can follow the interaction on the concert platform especially well. At the Elbphilharmonie, renowned string quartets like the Artemis Quartet (in a new line-up) can be heard, likewise outstanding lieder singers such as Anna Prohaska and Anne Schwanewilms, while major soloists appear in the Laeiszhalle Recital Hall in a variety of combinations.

Emőke Baráth
Emőke Baráth © Szofi Raffay

Early Music

The »Das Alte Werk« series, based in the Laeiszhalle Grand Hall, aims to bring the sound of bygone eras to life with period instruments and authentic playing techniques. But early music cuts a fine figure at the Elbphilharmonie as well: the French specialist ensemble Les Arts Florissants promises to take the audience on »A Baroque Odyssey«. A spotlight on George Frideric Handel offers five of his operas and oratorios performed by absolute expert ensembles.

William Youn
William Youn © Irene Zandel

Piano Recitals

An instrument so versatile that it can replace an entire orchestra: the piano. The list of top pianists visiting Hamburg this season is a long one. The series »Master Pianists« is at home in the Laeiszhalle Grand Hall, and in 2019/20, too, keyboard virtuosi like Piotr Anderszewski, Anna Vinnitskaya and Yuja Wang playing here. In addition, big names such as Jan Lisiecki, Grigory Sokolov and Igor Levit can be heard at the Elbphilharmonie. Levit plays Beethoven's complete piano sonatas, with the 32 compositions spread over two seasons. The »Pianomania« series in the Recital Hall continues to revolve strictly around a single theme: this season, the focus is on stylized dance compositions.

Anna Prohaska
Anna Prohaska © Harald Hoffmann

Operas and Oratorios

The Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle are home not only to world-class orchestras, but also to world-class singers. This season's programme of operas and oratorios ranges from the Baroque era to the 21st century – Tan Dun's »Buddha Passion« was finished in 2018. Bach's »St Matthew Passion« under Philippe Herreweghe and Berlioz's »La damnation de Faust« also feature on the programme. Messiaen's only opera »Saint François d'Assise« conducted by Kent Nagano can be heard three times at the Hamburg International Music Festival. A concert version of Janáček's opera »Kát'a Kabanová« is performed by the Czech Philhamronic under Jakub Hrůša.

Carla Bley Trio
Carla Bley Trio © unbezeichnet


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 – this season featuring among others, Shai Maestro and Fred Hersch – takes place as usual in the Recital Hall of the Laeiszhalle. »Jazz at the Phil« brings big names such as Brad Mehldau, Hiromi and Chick Corea, some accompanied by an ensemble, to the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall. Female musicians are well represented in the jazz programme: Sylvie Courvoisier, Carla Bley, Julia Kadel and many more.

Fatoumata Diawara
Fatoumata Diawara © Aida Mulumeh

World Music

Musicians from all the countries across the globe, playing hugely differing genres, are invited to the »Weltphilharmonie«: the series »World Classical Music« and »Around the World« give audiences the chance to make a musical trip across all continents. In her »Heike« epic, Buddhist nun Kyokuyo Okada sings about the lives of famous Samurai warriors. Songs of social criticism come from Fatoumata Diawara, a native of Mali: her themes are circumcision and fleeing from arranged marriages. Mariza breaks down the boundaries of the fado genre, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino bring the musical tradition of Apulia to the 21st century, and Gulzoda Khudoynazarova can be heard in a rendering of the traditional song cycle Shashmaqam.

Iveta Apkalna
Iveta Apkalna © Peter Hundert

Simply Organ

»This sound embraces people,« enthuses Iveta Apkalna about the Elbphilharmonie's biggest instrument, which she is in charge of as titular organist. She takes her seat at the console no fewer than six times this season to flood the Grand Hall with sound – once as part of the four-recital subscription series »Simply Organ«, which also features master organists Wayne Marshall, László Fassang and Vincent Dubois.

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.

Concert-Related Events

Pre-concert talks, live streams and the Elbphilharmonie Magazine – there are plenty of opportunities to find out more about the music, the artists and the Elbphilharmonie outside the concerts themselves. Expert introductions to the music are given in a relaxed style before many of our concerts. You won't miss any live streams in our Elbphilharmonie blog, plus: there are all kinds of interesting background stories to read. And the Elbphilharmonie Magazine offers in-depth articles three times a year about the programme highlights and exclusive looks behind the scenes. Check under »Elbphilharmonie+« for details of seminars, workshops and concerts that will broaden your horizon!

Mariss Jansons
Mariss Jansons © Peter Meisel

Elbphilharmonie Subscriptions

The multifaceted Elbphilharmonie subscriptions offer something for everyone: subscriptions 1-4 contain major symphonies and Baroque arias, performed by leading orchestras from all over the world with first-class soloists and charismatic conductors. Anyone who may still have reservations about classical music should opt for the series »Elbphilharmonie for Newcomers«. The subscriptions for adventurers and connoisseurs offer exciting programmes far removed from the mainstream, while jazz and world music fans will find what they're looking for at »Jazz at the Phil« and »Around the World«. In every case, the subscriptions not only save money compared with the cost of individual tickets – they also offer people the opportunity to broaden their musical horizons in carefully curated programmes.