London Symphony Orchestra
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It was founded in 1904 as an independent, self governing organization, the first such orchestra in the UK It played its first concert on June 9 of that year, with Hans Richter conducting. He remained principal conductor until 1911, when Edward Elgar took over for a year.
More recently, its principal conductors have included Pierre Monteux (1961-64), Istvan Kertesz (1965-68), André Previn (1968-79) and Claudio Abbado (1979-88). In 1988, the American Michael Tilson-Thomas took over, and in 1995, he was replaced by Sir Colin Davis, with Tilson Thomas becoming principal guest conductor. Sir Colin has announced his decision to step down (taking the post of President of the orchestra) and is to be succeeded by Valery Gergiev.
The LSO became the first British orchestra to play overseas when it went to Paris in 1906. The LSO was due to sail on the RMS Titanic for a concert in New York in April 1912 but fortunately had to change the booking at the last minute. It was also the first to play in the United States, in 1912, and in 1973 it was the first to be invited to take part in the Salzburg Festival. It continues to make tours around the world.
The LSO has long been considered the most extroverted of the London orchestras. There is an air of youthful high spirits to much of its music-making that is shown off in performances of such composers as Berlioz and Prokofiev. The LSO has often had internationally-known players as wind soloists, including such stars as James Galway (flute), Gervase de Peyer (clarinet), and Barry Tuckwell (horn). Like most ensembles, the orchestra has a great ability to vary its sound, producing very different tone colours under such diverse conductors as Stokowski (with whom it made a series of memorable recordings), Boult, Horenstein, Solti, Previn, Szell, Abbado, Bernstein, and Barbirolli, not to mention Karl Böhm, who developed a close relationship with the orchestra late in his life.
The LSO is also famous for recording many motion picture film scores down the years. These include, under the composer John Williams' baton, all the Star Wars films (with Maurice Murphy playing the main trumpet theme in all of them), Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Raiders of the Lost Ark,The Land Before Time, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Superman, as well as the innovative IllumiNations at the American theme park, Epcot. It has also performed on many pop recordings, including The Beatles's album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
In 1966 the London Symphony Chorus (LSC) was formed to complement the work of the LSO. Consisting of over 200 amateur singers, the LSC maintains a close association with the LSO; however it has developed an independent life, which allows it to partner other leading orchestras.
- Valery Gergiev (scheduled to become principal conductor in 2007)
- Colin Davis (1995–)
- Michael Tilson Thomas (1987–1995)
- Claudio Abbado (1979–1987)
- André Previn (1968–1979)
- István Kertész (1965–1968)
- Pierre Monteux (1960–1964)
- Josef Krips (1951–1954)
- Hamilton Harty (1932–1935)
- Willem Mengelberg (1930–1931)
- Albert Coates (1919–1922)
- Thomas Beecham (1915–1917)
- Arthur Nikisch (1912–1914)
- Edward Elgar (1911–1912)
- Hans Richter (1904–1911)