Home game: Our Berlin Concert Series
Werner Ferdinand von Siemens acquired the Correns' property in Berlin-Lankwitz in 1925. Music is his greatest passion: he plays piano and organ. He conducts too, but studying music is sadly not part of the family tradition. Here he can fulfil his dream, and build his own concert hall: in 1928 construction begins on the extension, which seats 300, has a multi-level stage for orchestra, and is accessible both from the street as well as from the main house via a connecting picture gallery.
At the opening around the turn of the year 1929-30 Werner Ferdinand von Siemens himself conducts the overture to 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg', played by members of the Staatskapelle Berlin. The hall becomes an attractive meeting-place for many celebrities and of course for members of the Von Siemens family itself – a place where Berlin's artistic and cultural society can meet and exchange ideas. As well as many family members and industrial magnates such as the General Director of Osram, other illustrious figures at the opening concert included Hedwig Courths-Maler, the painter Prof. Kossuth, and the Papal Nuncio Pacelli (later to become Pope Pius XII). From the music scene Erich Kleiber and Heinz Tietjen, respectively General Music Director and General Artistic Director of the Berlin Theatres, are also recorded as being present. Von Siemens also conducts the next concert on the 24th January 1930, this time with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra playing Brahms. At this point the concerts were purely private, for invited guests only.
The hall is used as a recording studio by RIAS from 1947, with productions by artists such as Rudolf Schock, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Marlene Dietrich and Martha Argerich. Deutsche Grammophon produces recordings by stars including Peter Schreier, Jessye Norman, Edith Mathis, Mstislav Rostropovich, Fischer-Dieskau and Daniel Barenboim, Brigitte Fassbaender, Anne Sofie von Otter and Douglas Boyd in the hall. In this period hardly any public concerts are to be heard in the villa, with the exception of temporary use by the Steglitz Music School, and the Berliner Symphoniker.
Unlike the more famous concert halls, the Siemens Villa is not in the middle of the city, but on the outskirts of Berlin in Steglitz-Zehlendorf. The Neue Philharmonie began its association with this famous venue in 2018, with three or four concerts a year. Their aim is to make the Siemens Villa into a more regularly frequented concert location.
In 2021 we will resume residency in the Siemens Villa as our Berlin home, with the nine concerts of our concert series 'Heimspiel' ('Home Game'). The programmes lasting about an hour will set the five Beethoven Piano Concertos against 'evening' pieces by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. Some of these serenades will be heard in specially-written arrangements for chamber orchestra. With such 'Classics' we want to encourage the local audience to take part in cultural life. We want to inspire the people who are put-off by the journey into the centre of Berlin, to find their way back into the concert hall. We are assuming that the concerts in the first half of the year will have to take place under necessary strict conditions, and so the programmes are limited to about an hour in length. Later we would ideally like to increase to 'normal' concert-length with an interval. In whatever form, we are looking forward to connecting to and communicating with the local residents.