|Alternative Spellings||Berliner Philharmoniker|
|Current conductor||Simon Rattle|
Simon Rattle - Conductor from 2002 to 2018
Claudio Abbado - Conductor from 1989 to 2002
Herbert von Karajan - Conductor from 1954 to 1989
Wilhelm Furtwängler - Conductor from 1952 to 1954
Wilhelm Furtwängler - Conductor from 1922 to 1945
Hans von Bülow - Conductor from 1887 to 1892
The Berlin Philharmonic was founded in Berlin in 1882 by 54 musicians under the name Frühere Bilsesche Kapelle; the group broke away from their previous conductor Benjamin Bilse after he announced his intention of taking the band on a fourth-class train to Warsaw for a concert. The orchestra was renamed and reorganized under the financial management of Hermann Wolff in 1882. In 1887 Hans von Bülow, one of the most esteemed conductors in the world, took over the post of conductor. This helped to establish the orchestra's international reputation.
Despite several changes in leadership, the orchestra continued to perform throughout World War II. In 1945, Leo Borchard became chief conductor. This arrangement lasted only a few months, as Borchard was accidentally shot and killed by the American forces occupying Berlin. Sergiu Celibidache then took over as chief conductor for seven years, from 1945 to 1952.
Herbert von Karajan led the orchestra from 1955 until his resignation in April 1989, only months before his death. Under him, the orchestra made a vast number of recordings and toured widely, growing and gaining fame. The orchestra hired its first female musician, violinist Madeleine Carruzzo, in 1982.
In 1989, the orchestra elected Claudio Abbado as its next principal conductor. He expanded the orchestra's repertoire beyond the core classical and romantic works into more modern 20th-century works. Abbado stepped down from the chief conductorship of the orchestra in 2002. During the post-unification period, the orchestra encountered financial problems resulting from budgetary stress in the city of Berlin.
In June 1999, the musicians elected Sir Simon Rattle as their next chief conductor. Rattle made it a condition of his signing with the Berlin Philharmonic that it be turned into a self-governing public foundation, with the power to make its own artistic and financial decisions. This required a change to state law, which was approved in 2001, allowing him to join the organization in 2002.
In 2006, the orchestra announced it would investigate its role during the Nazi regime.
UNICEF appointed the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Rattle as Goodwill Ambassadors in November 2007.
On 18 December 2008, the orchestra announced the official creation of a Digital Concert Hall. This hitherto unique internet platform of the BPO enables persons with computer access all over the world to see and hear the Philharmonic's concerts, live or on demand, not only under recent conductors, but even previous concerts conducted. Wikipedia