Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

Soon after it was founded by Eugen Jochum in 1949, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks developed into an internationally renowned orchestra, its fame continuously expanded and fortified by its intensive touring activities. The orchestra owes its extraordinarily wide ranging repertoire and sound spectrum to the program preferences of its previous chief conductors as well as to the great flexibility and solid stylistic security of each individual musician.

The Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks has a long tradition of fostering new music. Since its inception the orchestra has presented contemporary oeuvres with the musica viva series, established in 1945 by composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann. At these concerts, audiences have witnessed legendary performances of new works, some of which the composers themselves have conducted, including Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Paul Hindemith, Pierre Boulez, as well as, more recently, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, Luciano Berio, Peter Eötvös, Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, George Benjamin and Jörg Widmann.

Many renowned guest conductors, such as Clemens Krauss, Erich and Carlos Kleiber, Charles Munch, Ferenc Fricsay, Otto Klemperer, Karl Böhm, Günter Wand, Sir Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Kurt Sanderling and Wolfgang Sawallisch have left indelible imprints on the Symphonieorchester in the past. Today Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Simon Rattle, Franz Welser-Möst,Daniel Harding, Kent Nagano, Andris Nelsons and Yannick Nézet-Séguin are amongt the significant partners who frequently mount the podium in Munich.

In addition, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks has, in recent years, pursued new approaches to early music and now regularly collaborates with such experts in historical performance practice as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Giovanni Antonini and Thomas Hengelbrock.

Besides the many performances in Munich and surrounding cities within the station’s broadcast range, the BRSO is heard worldwide as part of its numerous and extensive concert tours. The BRSO has toured virtually every European country, Asia as well as North and South America. It makes regular appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and in the renowned concert Halls in Japan’s music capitals. It has also served as orchestra in residence at the Easter Festival in Lucerne since 2004.

A further special feature is the encouragement of up-and-coming young musicians. Within the scope of the ARD International Music Competition, the Symphonieorchester accompanies young musicians both in the final rounds as well as in the symphonic closing concert featuring the prize winners. Since October of 2001 the Academy of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks has been doing valuable work by preparing young musicians for their later careers and thus building a solid bridge between formation and professional activity. Beyond this, the Symphonieorchester maintains an encouragement programme for young people with many activities designed toward the worthy goal of bringing the younger generation closer together with classical music.

The history of the Symphonieorchester is closely intertwined with the names of its previous chief conductors, who were always concurrently Chief Conductors of the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks. The founder, Eugen Jochum, led the orchestra for eleven years (1949–1960.) He built up the orchestra completely with top-grade musicians and established its world-wide reputation on its initial foreign tours. His incomparable interpretation of Anton Bruckner’s symphonies set musical milestones. Besides Bruckner Eugen Jochum devoted special attention to the performance of sacred music, but made regular appearances on the podium of musica viva as well.

Rafael Kubelík, who headed the orchestra for eighteen years (1961–1979), remained closely associated with the orchestra as a guest conductor beyond that period. He expanded the repertoire with works by Slavic composers like Smetana, Janáček and Dvořák. He highly supported composers of the 20th century such as Karl Amadeus Hartmann and conducted the first Mahler cycle with a German orchestra which was released on gramophone record.

When his already designated successor Kyrill Kondrashin unexpectedly died in Amsterdam, the orchestra turned to Sir Colin Davis, thus gaining a recognized Berlioz specialist as chief conductor (1983–1992), who likewise proved an excellent advocate for the Viennese Classical Era as well as the works of English composers, especially Edward Elgar, Michael Tippett and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

From 1993 to 2002 Lorin Maazel took over Chief Conductor’s baton. His demands upon highest technique and ultimate precision raised the orchestra again to a new level of musical perfection. Lorin Maazel set new styles by performing cycles of symphonic works by Beethoven (1995 and 2000), Brahms (1998), Bruckner (1999) and Schubert (2001). He took his leave of his orchestra with a Mahler cycle in 2002.

A new and mutually pleasurable chapter in the history of the Symphonieorchester began in October of 2003 when the acknowledged favourite candidate of all the musicians, Mariss Jansons, assumed his post as the new Chief Conductor of the Chor and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. In no time, he succeeded in creating an atmosphere of the highest artistic standards and a close emotional tie with the orchestra. He regularly receives enthusiastic reviews both for his concerts in Munich and the many guest appearances in the leading musical capitals of Europe, America and Japan. Mariss Jansons conducts a wide repertoire, covering the classical and romantic eras and continuing on to 20th century music and works by contemporary composers.

With a high number of CD releases, among others a series of live recordings of the Munich concerts, Mariss Jansons continues to expand the orchestra’s vast discography. The recording of Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony won the Grammy for the Best Orchestral Performance in 2006. Since September of 2009, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks has been releasing CD’s and DVD’s on Bavarian Broadcasting’s own label, BR-KLASSIK.

In a number of different surveys of music critics, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks has numbered among the top ten orchestras in the world, most recently in the 2008 orchestra ranking by the British music magazine “Gramophone”, (6th place) and in the Japanese music magazine “Mostly Classic” in 2010 (4th place).

In August 2013 the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks got awarded the ECHO Klassik for the recording of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 with Bernard Haitink as well as the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Award of German Record’s Review) for Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 conducted by Andris Nelsons.

As of August 2016

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

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