• ©Peter Eberts
  • ©Bayerische Staatsoper (Wilfried Hösl)
  • ©hr (Tim Wegner)

Classical orchestras – a grand tradition

There are currently around 50 grand symphony orchestras in Germany – and about as many chamber and youth orchestras. The history of these ensembles goes back decades, if not centuries. Great composers, conductors and soloists have all contributed to the success of Germany's orchestras.
Dresdner Philharmonic

The Dresden Philharmonic's home is the Kulturpalast but the orchestra also performs in Dresden's churches, the Albertinum museum, the Schauspielhaus theatre and the German Hygiene Museum. Established in 1870, the Dresden Philharmonic has had a glittering career, as the names of its former chief conductors – Carl Schuricht and Kurt Masur among them – clearly testify. The orchestra's more recent history has been punctuated by concert tours to Asia and North, Central and South America as well as the first recording of Schnittke's 9th Symphony (2008).

Bochum Symphony Orchestra

The Bochum Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1918 and played mainly for the theatre and the opera until the Second World War. Under its current musical director, the American Steven Sloane, the orchestra has recently carved out a highly original profile for itself by collaborating with artists such as Sting and the German entertainer Harald Schmidt and by touring to Israel and the USA. The Bochum Symphony Orchestra is known for its bold concert programming for which it has won several awards.

Munich Philharmonic

The Munich Philharmonic was founded in 1893. Its home until 1944 was its own concert hall on Türkenstrasse, where several Mahler and Bruckner premieres were performed. In 1985 the orchestra took up residence at the Philharmonie in the Gasteig – under famous chief conductors such as Sergiu Celibidache, James Levine, Christian Thielemann and (from 2012) Lorin Maazel. On many occasions the Munich Philharmonic has been Germany's official musical ambassador abroad.

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is both the world's largest professional orchestra and Germany's oldest orchestra with civic rather than royal origins. It has performed with greats such as Mozart, Chopin, Schumann and Wagner, and premiered many symphonic works by composers from Beethoven to Schnittke.

Hamburg Philharmonic

From its foundation in 1828, the Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Society was the city's musical powerhouse. After merging with the Hamburg Opera Orchestra in 1933, the Hamburg Philharmonic rose to international standing under chief conductors such as Eugen Jochum, Joseph Keilberth, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Ingo Metzmacher. Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky appeared with the orchestra as guest conductors, and its calibre is reflected in contemporary premieres (e.g. Luigi Nono, Mauricio Kagel) and tours to many countries including Japan.

Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra

The Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra grew out of the municipal music association founded in 1818 and employed two great composers among its musical directors: Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann. Today it resides at the Tonhalle as a concert orchestra and at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein as a theatre orchestra, but it has also performed as far away as China and Japan. The orchestra's current music director is Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko.

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (originally the Berlin Radio Orchestra) came into being in 1925 in the pioneering days of radio. During the early years, composers such as Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky were the orchestra's associated guest conductors. After the Second World War, it became the symphony orchestra of East German Radio. Today the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra works together with Deutschlandradio. Since the millennium it has won many awards for its outstanding CD recordings.

German Symphony Orchestra Berlin

The German Symphony Orchestra Berlin was founded in 1946 as the radio orchestra of RIAS, a West Berlin broadcasting station. It was financed by the USA until 1953 and from 1956 it also worked with Radio Free Berlin. The orchestra's first chief conductor, the Austrian Ferenc Fricsay, laid the foundations for the orchestra's very contemporary repertoire. Performing mainly in the Berlin Philharmonie, the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin has premiered works by many composers including György Ligeti and John Adams.

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