Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

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Gewandhaus Orchestra
Official logo of the orchestra
Native nameGewandhausorchester
LocationLeipzig, Germany
Concert hallGewandhaus
Music directorAndris Nelsons

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (Gewandhausorchester; also previously known in German as the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) is a German symphony orchestra based in Leipzig, Germany. The orchestra is named after the concert hall in which it is based, the Gewandhaus ("Garment House"). In addition to its concert duties, the orchestra also performs frequently in the Thomaskirche and as the official opera orchestra of the Leipzig Opera.


The orchestra's origins can be traced to 1743, when a society called the Grosses Concert began performing in private homes. In 1744 the Grosses Concert moved its concerts to the "Three Swans" Tavern. Their concerts continued at this venue for 36 years, until 1781. In 1780, because of complaints about concert conditions and audience behavior in the tavern, the mayor and city council of Leipzig offered to renovate one storey of the Gewandhaus (the building used by textile merchants) for the orchestra's use. The motto Res severa est verum gaudium ("only a serious thing is a true joy", or "true joy is a serious thing" – from the Roman author Seneca) was painted in the hall, suggesting the priorities of the sponsors. The orchestra gave its first concert in the Gewandhaus in 1781. The orchestra thus has a good claim to being the oldest continuing orchestra in Germany founded by the bourgeoisie, while older orchestras were part of royal suites.[1]

In 1835, Felix Mendelssohn became the orchestra's music director, with the traditional title of Gewandhauskapellmeister, and held the post until his death in 1847. Several other musicians shared the duties with Mendelssohn during his tenure, including Ferdinand David, Ferdinand Hiller, and Niels Gade. In 1885, the orchestra moved into a new hall. This was destroyed by bombing in 1944. The present Gewandhaus is the third building with the name. It was opened in 1981. The large organ in the hall bears the original Gewandhaus hall's motto "Res severa verum gaudium" .

External audio
audio icon You may hear the Gewandhaus Orchestra led by Riccardo Chailly with Nelson Freire performing Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 in 2006
Here on archive.org
audio icon You may hear the Gewandhaus Orchestra led by Riccardo Chailly with Nelson Freire performing Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83 in 2006
Here on Archive.org

Later principal conductors included Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, and Václav Neumann. From 1970 to 1996, Kurt Masur was Gewandhauskapellmeister, and he and the orchestra made a number of recordings for the Philips label. From 1998 to 2005, Herbert Blomstedt held the same position, and they in turn made several recordings for the Decca label. Blomstedt currently holds the title of conductor laureate with the orchestra, while Masur held the post jointly with Blomstedt until his death in 2015.

In 2005, Riccardo Chailly took over as both Gewandhauskapellmeister and music director of the Leipzig Opera, with an initial contract through 2010. In 2008, Chailly's first contract extension occurred, through 2015. However, he concurrently resigned as GMD of the Oper Leipzig, reportedly after conflict over the hiring of personnel without his consultation.[2][3] In June 2013, the Gewandhausorchester further extended Chailly's contract through 2020.[4] However, in September 2015, the orchestra announced the newly scheduled conclusion of Chailly's tenure as Gewandhauskapellmeister in June 2016, four years ahead of the previously agreed-upon contract extension, at Chailly's request.[5][6][7]

Andris Nelsons first guest-conducted the orchestra in December 2011, and returned for subsequent guest engagements in June 2013, July 2014 and December 2014. In September 2015, the orchestra announced the appointment of Nelsons as its next Gewandhauskapellmeister, effective with the 2017–2018 season, with an initial contract of 5 seasons.[8] In parallel, the orchestra announced a new artistic collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, of which Nelsons is the current music director.[9][10] In October 2020, the orchestra announced the most recent extension of Nelsons' contract as Gewandhauskapellmeister through 31 July 2027.[11]

Music directors (Gewandhauskapellmeister)[edit]

Conductors laureate[edit]

  • Kurt Masur (1996–2015)
  • Herbert Blomstedt (2005–present)

Concertmasters (Konzertmeister)[edit]

Gewandhaus Composer[edit]


  1. ^ "Gewandhausorchester Leipzig wird 275 Jahre alt". Die Welt (in German). Berlin. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Riccardo Chailly will Leipziger Oper verlassen" (in German). MDR Regional Sachsen, 27 May 2008.
  3. ^ Peter Korfmacher, "Chailly hört bei der Oper auf – Verlängerung beim Gewandhaus" (in German). Leipziger Volkszeitung, 27 May 2008.
  4. ^ "Riccardo Chailly remains at the Gewandhausorchester until 2020" (Press release). Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. June 2013. Archived from the original on 1 July 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  5. ^ "The End of an Era – Riccardo Chailly will end his work with the orchestra in the 2015/2016 season" (PDF) (Press release). Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. 3 September 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  6. ^ Peter Korfmacher (3 September 2015). "Leipzigs Gewandhauskapellmeister Chailly tritt 2016 ab". Leipziger Volkszeitung (in German). Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  7. ^ Martin Cullingford (3 September 2015). "Chailly to leave the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester – four years earlier than planned". Gramophone. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Andris Nelsons announced as 21st Gewandhauskapellmeister" (PDF) (Press release). Stadt Leipzig & Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. 9 September 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  9. ^ Michael Cooper (9 September 2015). "Andris Nelsons Named Music Director of Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Under the leadership of Andris Nelsons, the Gewandhausorchester and the Boston Symphony Orchestra enter into a new alliance" (PDF) (Press release). Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. 9 September 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Boston Symphony Orchestra And Andris Nelsons Announce Three-Year Extension of Mr. Nelsons' Contract As BSO Music Director Through August 2025, With An Evergreen Clause In Place Reflecting A Mutual Intent For A Long-Term Commitment Well Beyond The Years Of The New Contract Extension" (PDF) (Press release). Boston Symphony Orchestra. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  12. ^ Powers, Keith (26 March 2018). "For The BSO, Composer Jörg Widmann's 'Partita' Offers Connection And Surprise". The ARTery. Boston: wbur. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  13. ^ Korfmacher, Peter (26 March 2019). "Große Concerte, 28 davon mit Andris Nelsons am Pult, große Namen, neue Maßstäbe". Leipziger Volkszeitung (in German). Leipzig. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Fokus: Gewandhauskomponistin Sofia Gubaidulina". Gewandhaus Leipzig (in German). 1 June 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Gewandhauskomponist Thomas Adès". Gewandhaus Leipzig (in German). Retrieved 29 July 2023.


External links[edit]