BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Infobox musical artist
Name = BBC Symphony Orchestra

Background = classical_ensemble
Alias = BBCSO
Origin = flagicon|UK London, England, United Kingdom
Genre = Classical
Occupation = Symphony orchestra
Years_active = 1946-"present"
Associated_acts = BBC Symphony Chorus
URL = [ Official website]
Current_members = Chief Conductor
Jiří Bělohlávek
Principal Guest Conductor
David Robertson
Conductor Laureate
Andrew Davis
John Adams
Chorus Director
Stephen Jackson
Past_members = Founder
Adrian Boult
Notable_instruments =
The BBC Symphony Orchestra is the principal broadcast orchestra of the British Broadcasting Corporation and one of the leading orchestras in Britain.


The orchestra was founded as a full time organisation in 1930, with Adrian Boult as its first chief conductor. He remained chief conductor until 1950, when Malcolm Sargent took over (holding the post until 1957). Other principal conductors have included Antal Doráti (1962-66), Colin Davis (1967-71), Pierre Boulez (1971-75), Gennady Rozhdestvensky (1978-81) Andrew Davis (no relation to Colin) (1989-2000), and Leonard Slatkin (2000-2004). Also in 2000, the orchestra appointed its first Associate Composer, Mark-Anthony Turnage. John Adams became the BBC Symphony Orchestra's Artist in Association in June 2003. Leonard Slatkin's final concert as Chief Conductor was the Last Night of the Proms 2004. In early 2005, the Czech conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek was named the orchestra's 12th Chief Conductor, which position he assumed from the first night of The Proms 2006. His contract as Chief Conductor is currently due to expire in 2012. [cite news | author=Geoffrey Norris | title=BBC Proms: A vintage and stirring night | url= | work=Telegraph | date=10 September 2007 | accessdate=2008-09-05]

As well as these principal conductors, the orchestra has had several notable guest conductors, including Arturo Toscanini, who made a series of commercial recordings with the orchestra in Queen's Hall from 1937 to 1939, which were released by His Master's Voice in the UK and RCA Victor in the US EMI later issued recordings of broadcast concerts with Toscanini and the orchestra. Past Principal Guest Conductors have included Charles Mackerras (1977-1979), Michael Gielen (1978-1981), Günter Wand, Mark Elder (1982-1985), Peter Eötvös (1985-1988), Alexander Lazarev (1992-1995), Bělohlávek (1995-2000), and Jukka-Pekka Saraste (2002-2005). The current Principal Guest Conductor is the American conductor David Robertson, since October 2005, and his contract currently runs to 2011.

The orchestra primarily performed in Queen's Hall until the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, curtailing that year's season of Proms. The orchestra was then evacuated to Bristol, where it was initially left largely unused. Due to Bristol's strategic status as a port it suffered heavy bombing, so the orchestra was relocated to Bedford in July 1941. The 1940 and 1941 Proms seasons were run without BBC involvement, but the BBC returned in 1942. The Queen's Hall was destroyed by a Luftwaffe incendiary bomb on 11 May 1941, prompting the move of the Proms to their current location in the Royal Albert Hall. Outside the Proms season, broadcast concerts and recordings were then moved to the Bedford School, and after the launch of the V-1 raids in 1944 the remaining broadcast concerts of that year's Proms season were performed at the Bedford Corn Exchange. [cite book|title=The Proms: A new history|last=Doctor|first=Jenny|authorlink=Jenny Doctor|chapter=Chapter 3: A new dimension: the BBC takes on the Proms 1920–44|coauthors="et al"|pages=pp 116–129|year=2007|month=April|location=London|publisher=Thames & Hudson|isbn=978-0-500-51352-1|editor=(ed.) Doctor, Jenny; Wright, David & Kenyon, Nicholas] A memorable 1944 recording of Sir Edward Elgar's "Symphony No. 2", conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, was later reissued on CD by EMI, along with shorter works of Elgar recorded during the 1930s in Queen's Hall. Since 1946, their home has been the Maida Vale Studios. The orchestra also gives a series of concerts at the Barbican Centre, as the Associate Resident Orchestra there.

The orchestra frequently commissions works by contemporary composers, and is a particular champion of new British works. Harrison Birtwistle's "Earth Dances", Pierre Boulez' "Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna" and John Tavener's "The Protecting Veil" were all BBC commissions first played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra plays a prominent role in The Proms, the annual season of concerts played at the Royal Albert Hall. It plays on both the first and last nights of the season. The last night concerts have been broadcast in the U.S. by National Public Radio.

The other professional BBC performing groups are the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Big Band and the BBC Singers. There are also two volunteer choruses, the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC National Chorus of Wales.

Chief conductors

*Adrian Boult (1930-1950)
*Malcolm Sargent (1950-1957)
*Rudolf Schwarz (1957-1963)
*Antal Doráti (1962-1966)
*Colin Davis (1967-1971)
*Pierre Boulez (1971-1975)
*Rudolf Kempe (1976)
*Gennady Rozhdestvensky (1978-1981)
*John Pritchard (1982-1989)
*Andrew Davis (1989-2000)
*Leonard Slatkin (2000-2004)
*Jiří Bělohlávek (2006-"present")


External links

*BBC Symphony Orchestra [ Official website]
* [ Discography at SonyBMG Masterworks]

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