Known as one of the“Big Five” of America’s major orchestras, Cleveland Orchestra was established by the pianist Adella Prentis Hughes under the leadership of the conductor Niklai Sokoloff in 1918.
Their initial performances were held at Grays Armory but after the first season they relocated to the Masonic Auditorium. During this time they started recording, giving broadcasts and giving educational and domestic tours. Just over two decades later they became settled in the Severance Hall in Cleveland in 1931, which was mainly a gift from John L. Severance in memory of his wife, and this remains their main residence. In 1933 Artur Rodzinski became their Music Director and over his 10-year tenure with them the orchestra staged 15 operas.
During WWII, in 1943, the music directorship was taken over by Erich Leinsdorf even though much of his three-year tenure with them saw him serving in the military. 1946 saw the entrance of the Music Director George Szell, which heralded an increase in the amount of tours, a change and increase of the musicians, the recognition for it’s “European Sound” and the addition of the choral conductor Robert Shaw saw the introduction of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. In 1965 Pierre Boulez started to work with the orchestra and following the death of George Szell in 1972 he became their Musical Advisor.
1972 saw the arrival of Lorin Maazel as Music Director and ten years later Christopher Dohnanyi began his tenure. This tenure was when there was an acclaimed annual series of concerts in Cleveland was started, appearances at the Salzburg Festival were regularly made and the renovation of the Severance Hall was begun. His tenure ended in 2002 but he was made the Music Director Laureate in September of that year. That same year Franz Welser-Most became the Music Director and his tenure is set to continue until 2018.
As of 2007 they went to Miami, Florida, to begin a 10 year residency at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Cleveland Orchestra & Chorus recordings
A Babe is Born (Traditional English)
Musical Arts Association (promo CD)
Conductor – Robert Shaw