Higginson founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1881. Their inaugural concert took place
at the Old Boston Music Hall,
where they performed until 1900.
Early music directors included Wilhelm Gericke,
George Henschel, Arthur Nikisch,
and Emil Paur.
In 1900, the
BSO changed venues when Symphony Hall was erected. Karl Muck led the orchestra in 1915
when they travelled to San
and presented a baker’s dozen worth of concerts as part of the
Panama-Pacific Exposition. In
1917, they made their first recording at the Victor Talking Machine Company
in Camden, New Jersey. At the outset of World War I, Karl
was arrested and held as a prisoner—although there was no charge or
trial—and he was deported at war’s end.
Henri Rabaud was the music director for one year and Pierre
Monteux took the reins from 1919 to 1924. Several musicians went on strike,
the opportunity to significantly change the make-up of the orchestra.
In 1924, Serge
Koussevitzky took over and would remain the orchestra’s music
director for a quarter of a century.
Many important advances and improvements happened during his tenure,
such as the progression from acoustic to electric recording, live radio
broadcasts, and the establishment of Berkshire
Music Center, a music school now known as Tanglewood
Music Center. Serge was also responsible for
commissioning new works by contemporary composers of the day, including
Sergei Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 4” and Igor
Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms”.
The baton was
passed to Charles Munch in 1949, and he remained with the orchestra until
1962. On his watch, the
orchestra unveiled their first recording in stereo, in February 1954.
In 1962, Erich
Leinsdorf took the helm, and his reign lasted seven years. During his time at the podium, he
got to see the beginning of The Boston Symphony Chamber Players, in 1964.
William Steinberg took over, and he witnessed the birth of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which would become a
mainstay of the BSO’s choral
performances. He also arranged
for the orchestra to record on the Deutsche Grammophon
label, a cosmopolitan shift that was furthered by his successor, Seiji
Seiji had been
the orchestra’s guest conductor in the sixties. He began a 29-year
tenure in 1973, and made sure the BSO was heard not only on Deutsche Grammophon and RCA, but CBS, EMI, Philips, and Telarc.
They were also heard on the film soundtracks of Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s
List, led by composer-conductor, John Williams.
Bernard Haitink became the Principal Guest Conductor in 1995,
and James Levine became the music director in 2004. Highlights during his time with the
BSO include the Artistic Initiative Fund, a major boost to the
orchestra’s $300,000,000 endowment, eighteen premieres, and the
launching of BSO Classics. One
of their first recordings on the new label, Daphnis et Chloe by Maurice Ravel, received a Grammy in the
category of Best Orchestral Performance.
The Principal Brass of the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra recordings
in Double Echo (Giovanni
Arranger – Arthur Frackenpohl