For a few months of his crazy youth Johannes Brahms did not get much sleep. During the day he composed and read voraciously – both ancient and modern authors – and in the evenings he played the piano in the numerous taverns of Hamburg to earn his keep. Undoubtedly, Brahms must have enjoyed this time of juvenile frenzy as throughout his life he continued to haunt the cabarets, from the most elegant to the least recommendable – with a clear preference for this second category.
Following the example set by Brahms, the seven musicians of the Philharmonix ensemble constantly oscillate between “great repertoire” and so-called “popular music”. They eagerly use their immense technical virtuosity to perform everything they can get their hands on, as long as it’s fun. This results in programs that provide often unexpected encounters: Bach and Freddie Mercury, Saint-Saëns and Henry Mancini, or Satie’s first gymnopédie transformed into a klezmer dance. In this philharmonic cabaret, borders are porous and only the quality of the arrangements and the engaging musical expression counts. Without doubt, Brahms would not disavow such an approach: Brahms is by far the most quoted, parodied and recycled composer, and one who reminds us that, until recently, “classical” music was not far from popular repertoires.
American violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley plays regularly as soloist and chamber musician in the United States and Europe. Since 2014 he has been the first Konzertmeiser of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Austrian violinist Sebastian Gürtler was first Konzertmeister of the Vienna Volksoper Orchestra from 1997 to 2008. He has been concertmaster of the Hugo Wolf Quartet since 2005 and of the Alban Berg Ensemble Wien since 2016. He is also the founder and artistic director of Ensemble Amarcord.
German violist Thilo Fechner played in major European orchestras (Munich Radio Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse romande) before joining the prestigious Wiener Philharmoniker and the Vienna Staatsoper Orchestra in 2004, with whom he still plays today.
From 2006 to 2008, Austrian cellist Stephan Koncz played at the Berlin Philharmonic Academy under the baton of Ludwig Quandt, performing with the orchestra and its “twelve cellists”. He then joined the Vienna Philharmonic, where he worked for two years, before joining the “official” ranks of the Berliner Philharmoniker, where he has been playing since 2010.
Hungarian musician Ödön Rácz has been principal double bass of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Wiener Staatsoper Orchestra since 2009. He also performs regularly as a soloist and is one of Europe’s most sought-after double bassists.
The Austrian Daniel Ottensamer is first clarinet of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. A Soloist in high demand, he also leads a fine career as a concert performer – with particular focus on chamber music. Lastly, he is also a founding member, alongside his father and brother, of the group “the Clarinots”.
Austrian pianist Christoph Traxler gained a reputation at a young age for his dexterity and great versatility. He plays regularly with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Halle, and other orchestras. A fine accompanist, he regularly works with the soloists of the Vienna and Berlin philharmonic orchestras, as well as with singers Bo Skovhus and Angelika Kirchschlager.