BBC Symphony Orchestra

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About BBC Symphony Orchestra

Renowned for its ability to play a bracingly wide repertoire with captivating authority and assurance, the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBCSO) has occupied a central place in British musical life since 1930, when it was founded under the BBC’s then director of music Adrian Boult. Such was the orchestra’s impact that fabled conductor Arturo Toscanini declared it the finest in the world. From the start the orchestra played a central role in Henry Wood’s annual Promenade Concerts (the “Proms”), and became associated with playing complex new music other orchestras shied away from, including Second Viennese School composers Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton von Webern (who conducted eight concerts with them during the 1930s). Following the Second World War, during which the orchestra was moved to various “safe” locations, underfunding took its toll until a succession of inspired chief conductors—Antal Doráti (1962-1966), Colin Davis (1967-1971), Pierre Boulez (1971-1975), and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (1978-1981)—helped restore the orchestra’s profile. Always brilliant sight readers and second to none in contemporary music, the BBCSO reasserted its credentials in mainstream repertoire under John Pritchard (1982-1989), Andrew Davis (1989-2000), and Czech maestro Jiří Bělohlávek (2005-2012), with whom the orchestra produced outstanding recordings of (among others) Beethoven’s piano concertos (with Paul Lewis), Josef Suk, Dvořák, and Bohuslav Martinů’s complete symphonies.

London, England
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