Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Toronto Symphony Orchestra

About Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is generally ranked among the finest Canadian orchestras. In 1906, Frank Welsman established the ensemble, giving it the name Toronto Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. Two years later, it was simply renamed the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It presented concerts in Massey Music Hall and soon began attracting some of the world's most important artists, including composer/performers Rachmaninov and Elgar, the latter appearing in 1911 to lead the TSO in a performance of his oratorio The Dream of Gerontius. World War I drained the orchestra of its younger personnel and shortly after the 1918 armistice, the TSO disbanded. In 1922, it was re-formed by local musicians and Austrian musician Luigi von Kunits, who had been an assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Named the New Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble gave its first concert in Massey Hall in April 1923, under the baton of its music director, von Kunits. In 1927, the orchestra reverted to its previous name, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and two years later began broadcasting concerts over CBC radio on a weekly basis. Von Kunits died in 1931 and Sir Ernest MacMillan was appointed his successor that year. A native Canadian, he would have the longest tenure of any of the ensemble's music directors, stepping down in 1956. MacMillan expanded the number of concerts and included children's concerts, broadened the repertory, made regular radio broadcasts (which had become sporadic under von Kunits), and the TSO cut its first recordings, among which was Holst's The Planets issued on RCA. By the end of his tenure, MacMillan had built the orchestra into a major ensemble, even if it remained a rank or so below world-class orchestras. Walter Süsskind succeeded him in 1956 and would expand the number of concert weeks in the season, which by the time he resigned in 1965 numbered 30. Süsskind introduced works by some of the rising stars of the avant-garde, such as Luciano Berio. He also led an enthusiastically received concert at Carnegie in 1963, which further enhanced the TSO's growing stature in North America. Thirty-year-old Seiji Ozawa was appointed music director in 1965, following Süsskind's resignation earlier that year. His energetic manner and tours abroad -- England and France (1966) and Japan (1969) -- gave the orchestra both much-needed exposure and considerable acclaim, but also helped the young Ozawa in his meteoric rise. Czech conductor Karel Ancerl was appointed music director in 1969. He introduced outdoor concerts and led hugely successful Beethoven and Brahms festivals in 1970 and 1971, respectively, yet overall was received with less enthusiasm by the Toronto public than his youthful predecessor. Ancerl died unexpectedly in 1973 and Victor Feldbrill, resident conductor from 1973-1977, led the orchestra with guest conductors until British maestro Andrew Davis was appointed music director in 1975. Davis made many successful tours with the TSO and several critically acclaimed recordings, including one for Columbia Records of Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen Suite and Taras Bulba. When he stepped down in 1988, German-born Gunther Herbig succeeded him, serving five years. Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste was appointed music director in 1994 and left at the end of the 2001-2002 season. He made several well-received recordings with the TSO, including one for the Finlandia label of excerpts from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Ballet and suite from The Love for Three Oranges. Since 1982, the TSO has presented its concerts in Roy Thomson Hall.

    Boston, MA
    October 22, 1881

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