Boston Symphony Orchestra

From Academic Kids

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the world's most renowned orchestras. It has been particularly noted for the quality of its string section. Its home base is Boston's Symphony Hall, one of the finest concert halls in the world.

The orchestra was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson in Boston, Massachusetts. It went on to have several notable conductors, including Arthur Nikisch from 1889 to 1893, and Pierre Monteux from 1919 to 1924 who gave the orchestra a reputation for a "French" sort of sound which persists to some degree to this day. However, it was under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky that the orchestra became best known.

Under Koussevitzky, the orchestra gave regular radio broadcasts and established its summer home at Tanglewood, where Koussevitzky founded the Berkshire Music School (now Tanglewood Music School). Koussevitzky also commissioned many new pieces from prominent composers, including the fourth symphony of Sergei Prokofiev and the Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky. They also gave the premiere of Bla Bartk's Concerto for Orchestra, which had been commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation.

In 1949, Charles Munch succeeded Koussevitzky. Under him, the orchestra played overseas for the first time. He was succeeded in 1962 by Erich Leinsdorf who in 1969 gave way to William Steinberg.

In 1973, Seiji Ozawa took over the orchestra, and his emotional style quickly endeared him to Bostonians as one of the city's most-loved musicians. He remained the principal conductor until 2002, the longest tenure of any Boston Symphony conductor. He was succeeded by James Levine, the first American-born conductor to hold the post.

Famous violin virtuoso Willy Hess was concertmaster from 1904 to 1910.

An offshoot of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the Boston Pops Orchestra, founded in 1885, which plays lighter, more popular classics.

Performing with the BSO and Boston Pops for major choral works is the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Organized in 1970 by its founding director, John Oliver, the Chorus is comprised of two hundred fifty volunteer singers.

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