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THOMAS HENGELBROCK: Beethoven & Cherubini

10 May 2023 @ 20:15

"I am delighted as often as I hear a new work of yours and take a greater interest in it than in my own. In short, I honor and love you," Ludwig van Beethoven once wrote to Luigi Cherubini. His admiration of his fellow composer went so far that he even wished Cherubini's Requiem to be played at his own funeral.

On a political level, Ludwig van Beethoven's admiration was for the revolting Napoleon. He therefore originally gave his 3rd Symphony the title "Buonaparte". Bitterly disappointed, however, that Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804, he deleted the dedication and called the Third his "Sinfonia Eroica" - "Heroic Symphony".

It was Napoleon's opponent who commissioned Cherubini's Requiem: King Louis XVIII, who ruled France in a constitutional monarchy after Napoleon's reign, had the work composed in memory of his brother Louis XVI, who was executed as a result of the Revolution. Music created in honor of the last absolutist ruler of France was thus also heard at Beethoven's funeral in 1827.

Thomas Hengelbrock and his ensembles regularly delight audiences with their ability to eavesdrop on seemingly familiar works in entirely new ways. They now musically trace the special artistic friendship between Beethoven and Cherubini: What connects the hot-headed musical innovator with the subtle drama of the Italian classicist?


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Ludwig van Beethoven (1777-1827)
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major op. 55 "Eroica

- Pause -

Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)
Requiem for choir and orchestra in C minor


Balthasar Neumann Choir and Orchestra
Thomas Hengelbrock, Conductor


THOMAS HENGELBROCK: Beethoven & Cherubini

Balthasar Neumann Choir

The Balthasar Neumann Choir is internationally regarded as one of the best vocal ensembles. With their energetic interpretations, the singers create enthusiasm among audiences and the specialist press alike. The renowned British magazine "Gramophone" named the Balthasar Neumann Choir one of the "best choirs in the world". Whether music from the 17th century or contemporary compositions, whether repertoire works or rarities, whether masses, operas, oratorios or cross-genre productions: the choir, founded by Thomas Hengelbrock in Freiburg in 1991, always focuses not only on the highest musical quality, but above all on passion and a deep understanding of the music. The excellent singers not only perform in the choir ranks, but also appear as soloists.

Like their namesake, the great Baroque architect Balthasar Neumann, the Balthasar Neumann Choir and the Balthasar Neumann Orchestra, also founded by Thomas Hengelbrock, stand for innovative, holistic and cross-disciplinary thinking. "Music is life cast in tones", this credo determines their joint work, whether they take on Baroque music or a brand new work. With great success, musical treasures that have fallen into oblivion are resurrected, the familiar is presented in a new original sound form, and the music is repeatedly interwoven with other forms of expression. On the CD recording "Nachtwache", for example, a cappella choral works from the Romantic period in combination with spoken poetry and prose offer an impressive glimpse into the soul of that time. The texts are recited by actress Johanna Wokalek, who regularly collaborates with the Balthasar Neumann Orchestra.

The artistic quality, versatility and passion of the Balthasar Neumann Choir set international standards. Thus, the vocal ensemble is invited to the most renowned concert halls and to the most important festivals. At the Ruhrtriennale 2018, it premiered the oratorio "Maria" by Jan Müller-Wieland (*1966) together with the Cuban-European Youth Orchestra, also founded by Thomas Hengelbrock.

The choir is a regular guest at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Munich Opera Festival. Tours have already taken the Balthasar Neumann Choir to China, Mexico, Japan and the USA. It is also increasingly present in Spain - for example in Madrid and Barcelona, at the Festival Internacional de Santander and at the Quincena Musical de San Sebastián.In Germany, the Balthasar Neumann ensembles are currently expanding their presence in Freiburg through a cooperation with the Albert Concerts. In Hamburg, they have been performing their own concert series in the tradition-steeped Laeiszhalle and the Elbphilharmonie since the 2019/20 season.

The Balthasar Neumann Choir has enjoyed great success on opera stages around the world, from Baden-Baden and Salzburg to Aix-en-Provence and Paris, Madrid and New York. Gluck's opera "Orphée et Eurydice" with the Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris in the choreography of Pina Bausch has been re-recorded many times and appeared on DVD. Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" also caused enthusiastic cheers: in Thomas Hengelbrock's extraordinary production, Johanna Wokalek appeared as Dido's somber alter ego with her own texts.

In addition to its regular collaboration with the Balthasar Neumann Orchestra, the choir works with orchestras such as the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the NHK Symphony Orchestra and regularly with the Basel Symphony Orchestra. Renowned guests such as Pablo Heras-Casado, Ivor Bolton and Howard Arman are also regularly on the podium.

The Balthasar Neumann Choir has received many awards: the Kulturpreis Baden-Württemberg, several ECHO-Klassik prizes and a Gramophone Award.

The choir director of the Balthasar Neumann Choir is Detlef Bratschke.

"...a vocal miracle instrument"

Cologne Review

THOMAS HENGELBROCK: Beethoven & Cherubini

Balthasar Neumann Orchestra

As one of the world's leading original sound orchestras, the Balthasar Neumann Orchestra, founded by Thomas Hengelbrock in 1995, continues to open up new perspectives on the music of different epochs - from the early Baroque to the modern. The members of the orchestra live the European idea: the musicians come together from around 25 countries for their projects. The repertoire of the Balthasar Neumann Orchestra includes familiar works, but also brings to light almost forgotten pieces and presents completely new ones. With great passion, Thomas Hengelbrock also combines music with other art forms such as dance or literature.



The Balthasar Neumann Orchestra performs in Europe's most prestigious concert halls, such as the Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. It participates in opera productions in Baden-Baden, Paris, Aix-en-Provence and Madrid and can be heard at Schleswig-Holstein Musik as well as at the Salzburg Festival. It frequently collaborates with guest conductors such as Teodor Currentzis, Pablo Heras-Casado and Duncan Ward. Among the Balthasar Neumann Orchestra and Balthasar Neumann Choir's CD recordings, several are internationally acclaimed as reference recordings, including Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah." His more recent DVD releases include Handel's "Agrippina" staged by Robert Carsen and Verdi's "La Traviata" directed by Rolando Villazón.

The Balthasar Neumann Orchestra is present throughout Europe in the context of artistic residencies, currently in Hamburg, Bologna, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the Château de Fontainebleau and the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, among others.

In addition to a Gramophone Award, the Balthasar Neumann ensembles are the recipients of several ECHO-Klassik prizes and the Kulturpreis Baden-Württemberg.



Thomas Hengelbrock and his Balthasar Neumann ensembles also pass on their enthusiasm for music to the younger generation: in addition to numerous music education activities surrounding their concerts and the two-year scholarship program of the Balthasar Neumann Academy, young Cuban musicians in particular are supported in joint projects as part of the "Cuban-European Youth Academy" (CuE).

"...simply a sensation"

New Zurich Newspaper

THOMAS HENGELBROCK: Beethoven & Cherubini

Thomas Hengelbrock


Thomas Hengelbrock is one of the most versatile and interesting artists of his generation. His work spans epochs and genres and is always the result of a detailed examination of the musical text, meaning and content of the works. With the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Orchestra, he founded two top original-sounding formations with which he has enjoyed international success for over 25 years. He is also a sought-after partner for orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre National de France and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich.

As an enthusiastic and inspiring music discoverer, Thomas Hengelbrock dedicates himself to a repertoire that ranges from early music through the 19th and 20th centuries to contemporary works and encompasses all genres. He brings almost forgotten compositions to the public or enables the re-evaluation of the standard repertoire through his projects - such as "Parsifal" on original instruments. His concert programs spanning epochs are legendary, often revealing astounding musical affinities and creatively circling and opening up selected themes.

In the context of assistant activities, Thomas Hengelbrock came into early contact with important personalities of contemporary music such as Witold Lutosławski, Mauricio Kagel and Antal Doráti. Even today, the music of the immediate present forms an important part of his work. For example, he conducted the world premieres of Jan Müller-Wieland's oratorio "Maria" at the Ruhrtriennale 2018 and of Wolfgang Rihm's "Reminiszenz" at the opening of the Elbphilharmonie in January 2017. He also collaborates with composers Jörg Widmann, Simon Wills, Lotta Wennäkoski, Qigang Chen and Erkki-Sven Tüür.

As an opera conductor, Thomas Hengelbrock can be seen at such houses as the Opéra national de Paris, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Teatro Real in Madrid, London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Berlin State Opera, and at the festivals in Baden-Baden, Aix-en-Provence, and Salzburg. In the fall of 2020, Thomas Hengelbrock and the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble also opened their own Résidence Artistique at the Château de Fontainebleau, under the patronage of UNESCO.

In productions with the Balthasar Neumann ensembles, Thomas Hengelbrock also directs himself, for example Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" or Mozart's "Don Giovanni". Musical-literary projects with actors such as Klaus Maria Brandauer, Johanna Wokalek and Graham Valentine are another focus of his artistic work. His own versions of Grieg's Peer Gynt and Schumann's "Scenes from Goethe's Faust" fuse music and world literature and subvert all common expectations. With the choreographer Pina Bausch, he created a celebrated production of Gluck's "Orphée et Eurydice" at the Paris Opéra in 2005, which has toured numerous countries to this day.

Thomas Hengelbrock is an enthusiastic music promoter and supports young artists, among other things through the Balthasar Neumann Academy, which he founded, and his Cuban-European Youth Academy (CuE). In 2016, he was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize for his services. He is also a long-standing patron of the children's palliative care association KinderPaCT.

Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, Thomas Hengelbrock has been particularly committed to the continuation of culture and freelance musicians in Europe. In order to be able to continue to make music without interruption, the Balthasar Neumann ensembles have developed their own hygiene concept, on the basis of which around 30 projects with musicians from all over Europe have been realized.


THOMAS HENGELBROCK: Beethoven & Cherubini


May 10, 2023
Event categories:


Philharmonie Berlin - Great Hall
Philharmonie Berlin, Great Hall
Berlin, Germany

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