Boston Symphony Orchestra


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Boston Symphony Orchestra,

founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson, who was its director and financial backer until 1918. The orchestra performed at the Old Boston Music Hall for nearly 20 years until the 2,625-seat Symphony Hall was built in 1900; its concerts continue to be held there. The Boston Symphony's conductors have included Sir George HenschelHenschel, Sir George
, 1850–1934, German-English conductor, composer, and baritone. His first appearance (1877) in England was as a singer, and there he and his wife inaugurated (c.1880) the song recital. In 1881 he became the Boston Symphony Orchestra's first conductor.
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 (1881–84), Arthur NikischNikisch, Arthur
, 1855–1922, Hungarian conductor and violinist, grad. Vienna Conservatory, 1873. He played in Wagner's orchestra at the dedication of the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth and with the Vienna court orchestra.
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 (1889–93), Karl Muck (1906–8; 1912–18), Pierre MonteuxMonteux, Pierre
, 1875–1964, French-American conductor, studied at the Paris Conservatory. As conductor (1911–14) of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, he directed the premieres of ballets by Stravinsky, Ravel, and Debussy.
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 (1919–24), Serge KoussevitzkyKoussevitzky, Serge
(Sergei Aleksandrovich Koussevitzky) , 1874–1951, Russian-American conductor, studied in Moscow. He began his career as a double bass player. In 1908 he made his debut as a conductor in Berlin.
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 (1924–49), Charles MünchMünch, Charles
, 1891–1968, French conductor and violinist, b. Alsace. Having conducted and directed orchestras in Paris (1933–48), Münch appeared for three seasons from 1947 as guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and was chief conductor of the
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 (1949–62), Erich LeinsdorfLeinsdorf, Erich
, 1912–93, American conductor, b. Vienna. Leinsdorf studied at the Vienna state academy of music and in 1934 began his conducting career, serving as assistant to Bruno Walter and then to Toscanini at the Salzburg festival.
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 (1962–69), William Steinberg (1969–72), Seiji OzawaOzawa, Seiji
, 1935–, Japanese conductor, b. Japanese-occupied Manchuria. A graduate of the Toho School of Music, Ozawa became the first Japanese conductor to gain recognition in the West, winning competitions in Europe and the United States.
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 (1973–2002), James LevineLevine, James,
1943–, American conductor, b. Cincinnati, Ohio. A piano prodigy, he was a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony at the age of 10. After extensive musical studies, he served (1964–65) as an apprentice to George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra,
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 (2004–11), and Andris Nelsons (2014–). One of America's oldest orchestras, it has summer activities that include the Tanglewood Music FestivalTanglewood Music Festival,
formerly the Berkshire Festival (until 1984), summer music festival held since 1937 at "Tanglewood," a former estate in the adjoining towns of Stockbridge and Lenox, Mass. The Berkshire Festival was begun in 1934 at a farm in Stockbridge.
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 and the Boston Pops Concerts. The Pops orchestra, which began with "Promenade" concerts in 1885 and has had its present title since 1900, has been conducted by Arthur FiedlerFiedler, Arthur,
1894–1979, American conductor, b. Brookline, Mass. Fiedler, who ultimately became a grandfatherly American musical icon, studied violin with his father, a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
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 (1930–79), John Williams (1980–93), and Keith Lockhart (1995–).

Bibliography

See studies by M. A. De Wolfe Howe (1931); H. E. Dickson (1969); J. Baker-Carr (1977); C. A. Vigeland (1991).

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