The Colonne Orchestra is a French symphony orchestra, founded in 1873 by the violinist and conductor Édouard Colonne.
While leader of the Opéra de Paris orchestra, Édouard Colonne was engaged by the publisher Georges Hartmann to lead a series of popular concerts which he founded under the title of ‘Concert National’ in March 1873. While at first a great success, the financial burden forced Hartmann to withdraw from the enterprise.
However, Colonne then decided to form his own orchestra, ‘l’Association artistique des Concerts Colonne’ based at the Théâtre du Châtelet in November 1873. The Concerts Colonne placed particular emphasis on contemporary music of the time (Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Charpentier, Fauré, d'Indy, Debussy, Ravel, Widor, Dukas and Chabrier). Alongside these were programmed Wagner and Richard Strauss, and Colonne revived the music of Hector Berlioz such as La Damnation de Faust, which was performed 172 times up to the First World War.
Even after the departure of its founder the orchestra championed new music, with 22 premieres in the 1923-24 season.
The current musical director Laurent Petitgirard has recently had his contract renewed until 2014.
- Édouard Colonne (1873–1910)
- Gabriel Pierné (1910–1932)
- Paul Paray (1932–1956)
- Charles Münch (1956–1958)
- Pierre Dervaux (1958–1992)
- Antonello Allemandi (1992–1997)
- Laurent Petitgirard (from 2004)
- Cinquante Ans de Musique Française de 1874 à 1925. Les Éditions Musicales de la Librairie de France, Paris, 1925.
- Nichols R. The Harlequin Years; Music in Paris 1917-1929. Thames & Hudson, London, 2002.