Boston Symphony Orchestra
|Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO)|
|Concert hall||Symphony Hall|
The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the country's five major symphony orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center.
Andris Nelsons is scheduled to serve as the music director designate of the BSO in the 2013-2014 season, and to become music director with the 2014-2015 season. Bernard Haitink currently holds the title of conductor emeritus of the BSO, and Seiji Ozawa has the title of BSO music director laureate.
Early years 
The BSO was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson. Its first conductor was George Henschel, who was a noted baritone as well as conductor, and a close friend of Johannes Brahms. For the orchestra, Henschel devised innovative orchestral seating charts and sent them to Brahms, who replied approvingly and commented on the issues raised by horn and viola sections in a letter of mid-November 1881 .
The orchestra's four subsequent music directors were all trained in Austria, including the seminal and highly influential Hungarian-born conductor Arthur Nikisch, in accordance with the tastes of Higginson. Wilhelm Gericke served twice, from 1884 to 1889 and again from 1898, to 1906. According to Joseph Horowitz's review of correspondence, Higginson considered 25 candidates to replace Gericke after receiving notice in 1905. He decided not to offer the position to Gustav Mahler, Fritz Steinbach, and Willem Mengelberg but did not rule out the young Bruno Walter if nobody more senior were to accept. He offered the position to Hans Richter in February, 1905, who declined, to Felix Mottl in November, who was previously engaged, and then to previous director Nikisch, who declined; the post was finally offered to Karl Muck, who accepted and began his duties in October, 1906. .
During World War I, Muck (born in Germany but a Swiss citizen since childhood), was arrested, shortly before a performance of the St. Matthew Passion, and interned in a prison camp without trial or charge until the end of the war, when he was deported. He vowed never to return, and conducted thereafter only in Europe. Its next two music directors were French: Henri Rabaud, who took over from Muck for a season, and then Pierre Monteux from 1919 to 1924. Monteux, because of a musician's strike, was able to replace 30 players, thus changing the orchestra's sound; the orchestra developed a reputation for a "French" sound which persists to some degree to this day.
Koussevitzky and Munch 
The orchestra's reputation increased during the music directorship of Serge Koussevitzky. One million radio listeners tuned in when Koussevitzky and the orchestra were the first to perform a live concert for radio broadcast, which they did on NBC in 1926.
Under Koussevitzky, the orchestra gave regular radio broadcasts and established its summer home at Tanglewood, where Koussevitzky founded the Berkshire Music Center, which is now the Tanglewood Music Center. Those network radio broadcasts ran from 1926 through 1951, and again from 1954 through 1956. The orchestra continues to make regular live radio broadcasts to the present day. The Boston Symphony was closely involved with the Boston's WGBH Radio as an outlet for its concerts.
Koussevitzky also commissioned many new pieces from prominent composers, including the Symphony No. 4 of Sergei Prokofiev and the Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky. They also gave the premiere of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, which had been commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation at the instigation of Fritz Reiner and Joseph Szigeti.
Koussevitzky started a tradition of commissions that the orchestra continued, including new works by Henri Dutilleux for its 75th anniversary, Roger Sessions, and Andrzej Panufnik, for the 100th, and lately for the 125th works by Leon Kirchner, Elliott Carter, and Peter Lieberson. Other BSO commissions have included John Corigliano's Symphony No. 2 for the 100th anniversary of Symphony Hall. Hans Werner Henze dedicated his Eighth Symphony to the orchestra.
Although Koussevitsky recommended his protégé Leonard Bernstein to be his successor after he retired in 1949,, the BSO awarded the position to the Alsatian maestro Charles Munch. Munch had made his conducting debut in Boston in 1946. He led orchestra on its first overseas tour, and also produced their first stereo recording in February 1954 for RCA Victor. In 1952, Munch appointed the first woman to hold a principal chair in a major U. S. orchestra, flutist Doriot Anthony Dwyer, who remained as BSO principal for 38 years .
Leinsdorf and Ozawa 
Erich Leinsdorf became music director in 1962 and held the post until 1969. William Steinberg was then music director from 1969 to 1972. After Steinberg's retirement, according to BSO trustee John Thorndike (who was on the search committee) the symphony's board spoke to Colin Davis and "investigated very thoroughly" his appointment, but Davis's commitments to his young family did not allow his moving to Boston from England; instead he accepted the post of BSO principal guest conductor, which he held from 1972 to 1984. As the search continued, Leonard Bernstein met with four board members and recommended Michael Tilson Thomas for the directorship, but the young conductor "did not have sufficient support among the BSO players," according to journalist Jeremy Eichler. The committee eventually chose Seiji Ozawa, who became Music Director in 1973 and held the post until 2002, the longest tenure of any Boston Symphony conductor. Bernard Haitink served as principal guest conductor from 1995 to 2004, and was named conductor emeritus in 2004.
Recent years 
In 2004, James Levine became the first American-born music director of the BSO. Levine received critical praise for revitalizing the quality and repertoire since the beginning of his tenure, including championing contemporary composers. Since becoming music director, the BSO has performed 18 world premieres, 12 of them conducted by Levine. To fund the more challenging and expensive of Levine's musical projects with the orchestra, the orchestra established an "Artistic Initiative Fund" of about US$40 million. This is in addition to the current endowment of the orchestra, which is the largest of any American orchestra at about US$300 million.
Levine suffered from recurring injuries and health problems issues during his BSO tenure, which led to his resignation as BSO music director as of September 1, 2011. In the wake of Levine's resignation, Andris Nelsons made his first guest-conducting appearance with the BSO in March 2011, as an emergency substitute for Levine at Carnegie Hall in Mahler's Symphony no. 9. He subsequently guest-conducted the BSO at Tanglewood in July 2012, and made his first appearance with the BSO at Symphony Hall in January 2013. In May 2013, the BSO named Nelsons as its 15th music director, effective with the 2014-2015 season. His initial contract is for 5 years, with 8-10 weeks of scheduled appearances in the first year of the contract, and 12 weeks in subsequent years. Nelsons is to hold the title of Music Director Designate for the 2013-2014 season.
Related ensembles 
An offshoot of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the Boston Pops Orchestra, founded in 1885, which plays lighter, more popular classics, and show tunes. Arthur Fiedler was the conductor who did the most to increase the fame of the Boston Pops, over his tenure from 1930 to 1979. Film composer John Williams succeeded Fiedler as the conductor of the Pops from 1980 to 1993. Since 1995, the conductor of the Boston Pops has been Keith Lockhart.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players were launched in 1964. Today they are the only chamber ensemble composed of principal players from an American symphony orchestra. In addition to regular performances in Boston and Tanglewood, they have performed throughout the United States and Europe. They have also recorded for RCA Victor, DG, Philips, and Nonesuch.
Performing with the BSO and Boston Pops for major choral works is the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Organized in 1970 by its founding director, John Oliver, the Chorus comprises 250 volunteer singers. Before the creation of the Tanglewood Chorus, and for some time after, the BSO frequently employed the New England Conservatory Chorus conducted by Lorna Cooke DeVaron, Chorus Pro Musica, Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society.
The Boston Symphony made its first acoustical recordings in 1917 in Camden, New Jersey for the Victor Talking Machine Company with Karl Muck. Among the first discs recorded was the finale to Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony. Typical of acoustical recordings, the musicians had to crowd around a large horn that transferred the sounds to a recording machine.
It was under Serge Koussevitsky that the orchestra made its first electrical recordings, also for Victor, in the late 1920s. Using a single microphone for a process Victor called "Orthophonic", the first recordings included Ravel's Boléro. Recording sessions took place in Symphony Hall. Koussevitsky's final recording with the Boston Symphony was a high fidelity version of Sibelius' second symphony, recorded in 1950 and released on LP.
In February 1954, RCA Victor began recording the orchestra in stereo, under the direction of Charles Munch. RCA continued to record Munch and the orchestra through 1962, his final year as music director in Boston (see the Charles Munch discography for a complete list of commercial recordings with the BSO under Charles Munch). During Munch's tenure, Pierre Monteux made a series or records with the BSO for RCA Victor (see Pierre Monteux for a complete list of commercial recordings with the BSO).
Erich Leinsdorf, who had already made numerous recordings for RCA, continued his association with the company during his seven years in Boston. These included a critically acclaimed performance of Brahms' German Requiem (see Erich Leinsdorf for a complete list).
Then, the orchestra switched to Deutsche Grammophon (DG) under William Steinberg. RCA recorded several LPs with Steinberg and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique with Georges Prêtre during the transition to DG (see William Steinberg for a complete list of commercial recordings). Michael Tilson Thomas, who was an assistant conductor under Steinberg, also made several recordings for DG; some of these have been reissued on CD. Due to Steinberg's illness, DG recorded the BSO with Rafael Kubelík in Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, Ma Vlast by Bedřich Smetana and in Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra as well as with Eugen Jochum conducting Symphony No. 41 by Wolfgang Mozart and Franz Schubert's Symphony 8.
As a guest conductor in the 1960s, Ozawa made several recordings with the BSO for RCA Victor. He continued the BSO relationship with DG while making several other releases for New World. Over the course of Ozawa's tenure, the BSO diversified its relationships, making recordings under Ozawa with CBS, EMI, Philips Records, RCA, and TELARC.
The BSO also recorded for Philips under Colin Davis. Leonard Bernstein made records for both Columbia and DG with the BSO, including selections from his last concert ever as a conductor on 19 August 1990 at Tanglewood. The BSO has also appeared on Decca with Vladimir Ashkenazy, with Charles Dutoit and Andre Previn for DG, and on Phillips and Sony Classical with Bernard Haitink.
The BSO has also done recording for film scores on occasion. Films such as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan (both composed and conducted by John Williams) were recorded by the Orchestra at Symphony Hall.
In the James Levine era, the BSO had no standing recording contract with a major label; the Grammy award winning recording of Levine conducting the BSO with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs, released on Nonesuch Records, was the only major label recording during Levine's tenure. On February 19, 2009, the BSO announced the launch of a new series of recordings on their own label, BSO Classics. Some of the recordings are available only as digital downloads. The initial recordings included live concert performances of William Bolcom's 8th Symphony and Lyric Concerto, Mahler's Sixth Symphony, the Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, and Ravel's complete Daphnis et Chloé, which won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Music directors 
Orchestra musicians 
A list of the principal players of the Boston Symphony as of 2013[update]:
- Malcolm Lowe, concertmaster
- Haldan Martinson, principal second violin
- Steven Ansell, principal viola
- Jules Eskin, principal cello
- Edwin Barker, principal bass
- Elizabeth Rowe, principal flute
- John Ferrillo, principal oboe
- William Hudgins, principal clarinet
- Richard Svoboda, principal bassoon
- James Somerville, principal horn
- Thomas Rolfs, principal trumpet
- Toby Oft, principal trombone
- Mike Roylance, tuba
- Timothy Genis, timpani
- Jessica Zhou, harp
See also 
- Michael Walsh (1983-04-25). "Which U.S. Orchestras are Best?". Time. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- Avins, Styra (1997). Johannes Brahms: Life and Letters. Oxford University Press. pp. 587–588. ISBN 0-19-816234-0.
- Horowitz, Joseph (2005). Classical Music in America: A history of its rise and fall. W.W. Norton and Company. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-393-05717-8.
- "Pierre Monteux". All Music Guide to Classical Music. Hal Leonard Corporation. 2005. p. 866.
- Young, William H. and Nancy K. Music of the Great Depression. Greenwood, 2005.
- Ross, Alex (August 27, 2012). "Fresh Breezes: An impressive début and new works at Tanglewood". New Yorker.
- Kean, Kristen Elizabeth (2007). First Flute: The Pioneering Career of Doriot Anthony Dwyer (D.Mus.A. thesis). Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University. OCLC 209994674. http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-11132007-163128/unrestricted/Kean_dis.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-31.
- Eichler, Jeremy (September 25, 2011). "Who will pick up the baton? A look inside the BSO search for James Levine’s successor". Boston Globe.
- Schwartz, Lloyd (March 2005). "Stretching exercises: The BSO challenges the audience and itself". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- Loomis, George (February 10, 2009)). "Boston Symphony Orchestra/Levine, Symphony Hall, Boston". Financial Times.
- Edgers, Geoff (2005-09-25). "The cost of excellence". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- Eichler, Jeremy (22 February 2009). "The opening movement". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
- Edgers, Geoff (2013-05-16). "Andris Nelsons named new music director of BSO". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Oestreich, James R. (2011-03-19). "A Fresh Face Confronts a Seasoned Mahler". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
- Oestreich, James R. (2012-07-16). "Tanglewood Tries Out a New Face: Andris Nelsons Conducts Boston Symphony at Tanglewood". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
- "Boston Symphony Orchestra Appoints Andris Nelsons As Its 15th Music Director Since Its Founding in 1881" (Press release). Boston Symphony Orchestra. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
- "Philly Orchestra Composes Innovative Contract" (audio). Weekend Edition. National Public Radio. 2005-05-07. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Eichler, Jeremy (2009-02-20). "Listening to Levine: two CDs, a season of firsts". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- "Grammy Awards: List of Winners". The New York Times. 2010-01-31.
- Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507678-8.
Further reading 
- Boston Symphony Orchestra. Season programmes. 22nd season, 1902–1903 Google books; 29th season, 1909–1910 Google books; 36th season, 1916–1917 Google books
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Boston Symphony Orchestra|
- Offical Boston Symphony Orchestra Website
- Official BSO page on orchestra history
- Discography at SonyBMG Masterworks
- Edgers, Geoff. "6 minutes to shine". The Boston Globe, 4 September 2005.
- The Turangalîla-Symphonie—A film about the BSO Premiere of Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie, from the Philharmonia Orchestra's Messiaen Website.
- Boston Public Library on Flickr. Programme from U.S. premiere of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Symphony Hall, March 25, 1938.