The musicians of the legendary Vienna Philharmonic dedicate their lives to music. Every year they perform more than three hundred operas and give one hundred symphonic concerts, sharing their art and passion with spectators from all over the world.
“I think it has to be a vocation because this job is very demanding,” notes Karin Bonelli, flutist of the Viennese orchestra. “No two days are the same, but that’s what makes it so exciting because there is no routine.” adds her colleague, harpist Anneleen Lenaerts.
A great complicity unites the two musicians: “We know each other very well because we work a lot together in Vienna and when we travel, we are like a big family.” says Anneleen Lenaerts. We are together almost 24 hours a day, from breakfast to dinner. laughs Karin Bonelli.
On tour, logistical aspects are sometimes complex, as the harpist explains: “Obviously, my harp has to travel with the load and I find it at most an hour before the start of the concert. While some of my colleagues have the possibility to rehearse and warm up in their hotel room, we cannot. ; It complicates things for us on tour because it’s like in sports, you have to train every day.” she points.
“A profession so magnificent and so varied”
“It was by chance that I picked up the harp”, She continues. “I started with the piano, then I wanted to play in the local orchestra and play the clarinet or the oboe so that I could go to rehearsals with a small suitcase”, the musician points out. “But the director wanted a harpist and he thought it had to be me.” she says.
Karin Bonelli tells us that she comes from a family of musicians: “My parents are almost all flutists: it’s like a family curse”, he says with a smile. “My uncle was a flutist, my brother is a flutist, it’s in our blood”, she says.
The young woman enjoys her work. “so beautiful and varied”. “We play at the opera, we give philharmonic concerts, we tour, then we take part in the Salzburg Festival.” she lists. “There are days when we have a rehearsal in the morning, another in the afternoon, an opera at night and in the meantime, many of us give lessons,she declares.
“Play as if your life depended on it”
We accompany Karin Bonelli, who has just returned from a tour, to an audition preparation course she teaches at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.
“I prepare for auditions because it’s something close to my heart: auditions are the gateway to our profession, to a life in an orchestra.” insists before indicating to his student: “Play like your life depends on it!”
“It’s like an athletic champion on the starting grid who only has a few minutes to do his best.” explains Karin Bonelli. “Everyone has to find their own way” she adds. “As a teacher, you can only play the role of a mountain guide, students have to climb alone.” She believes.
After years of hard work and dedication, Karin Bonelli became the first female wind instrumentalist of the Vienna Philharmonic.
“Since the age of four, watching the New Year’s concert on TV,” says the flautist of the Vienna Philharmonic, “I told her, ‘This is where I’m going to be one day, Mom!’ and she was always like, ‘Yeah, we’ll see!’ Then at 23, my dream came true – it was amazing!” she remembers fondly.
A rich heritage
The musical heritage of the Vienna Philharmonic is passed down from generation to generation. Its rich heritage is documented in the orchestra’s historical archives.
Silvia Kargl is the guardian of this treasure that contains thousands of unique objects, cards and photos. she shows us “a very valuable score by Ludwig van Beethoven: a piano passage from his opera ‘Fidelio’. This is a very rare edition, I think there are only five copies in the world” she specifies.
Then he presents another document of great value preserved in these archives: the founding decree of the Vienna Philharmonic, written in 1842 by Otto Nicolai.
“Not very impressive. looks like a note Silvia Kargl points out. “But actually, establishes the most important principles that are still valid today within the Vienna Philharmonic: the musicians themselves choose their directors according to a democratic process -which was a real novelty at the time-, make sure before adding: “The musicians organize their rehearsals and concerts themselves and share the profits.”
The orchestra is still conducted independently today. It manages its own box office, shows and tours.
“Self-management is our most important value because, when we all get to decide with whom, when, where and what works we play, it’s fabulous”, Daniel Froschauer, president of the Vienna Philharmonic and first violin, enthuses. “Of course, when you are 148 members, you have 300 different opinions: it is a challenge that I really enjoy.” rejoices
Harpist Annaleen Lenaerts adds: “What I also appreciate is that all the musicians feel responsible for the quality of the orchestra and what we stand for.”
“The musicians of the Philharmonic breathe with the singers” according to Juan Diego Florez
The musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic are also part of the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. They share their time between the pit and the concert stage where they enjoy working with singers such as world-renowned tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who last March performed in Gaetano Donizetti’s “L’Élixir d’amour” at the State Opera of Vienna. It entrusts us to admire the excellence of the orchestra.
“At the Vienna State Opera, the musicians have to perform a wide variety of works: so they have to listen and have that sensitivity that allows them to follow the singers, be in harmony with them, breathe with them. And they know how to do it perfectly”, He insists. “As a singer, we need to feel that the orchestra is there, with us; the sound that carries us reaches us and we feel the emotions that emanate from the orchestra: it is wonderful!” he congratulates himself.