The Baltimore Symphony Turns 100

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Following a few seasons of informal performances in the 1890s, the orchestra played its first official concert on February 11, 1916. It began as the country’s first municipal orchestra, funded for 26 years by the City of Baltimore. In 1942, the BSO separated from the City to become an independent entity.

The Baltimore Symphony’s season-long celebration includes a concert tomorrow featuring Joshua Bell, a world premiere by Colorado born composer Kristin Kuster, and music of Gershwin, Bernstein and Mason Bates. The program concludes with the ultimate showcase of orchestral color and virtuosity, Ravel’s Bolero. 

Recent Baltimore Symphony recordings with Music Director Marin Alsop include a 2010 Naxos release of Dvorak’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, recorded live at the orchestra’s main home, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. (Listen to a sample here). Here are a few excerpts from additional recordings throughout the orchestra’s history:

Goffredo Petrassi: Introduction and Allegro for Small Orchestra

Here is a recording of a live performance from 1958 featuring violinist Isaac Stern and the Italian conductor Massimo Freccia. Freccia, who started as an assistant to Arturo Toscanini, was music director of the Baltimore Symphony between 1952 and 1959. Goffredo Petrassi (1904-2003) was one of the most influential Italian composers of the twentieth century. This short piece, Introduction and Allegro for Small Orchestra, hints at neoclassicism, with its walking bass lines and capricious solo lines which converse with the solo violin:

Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony

Sergiu Comissiona was music director between 1969 and 1984. Here is his passionate and exhilarating recording of Camille Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op., 78, commonly known as the “Organ Symphony.” Here is the conclusion:

Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances

David Zinman, music director between 1985 and 1998, recorded extensively with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Many of Zinman’s recordings feature music of contemporary composers such as Michael Torke. A 1995 album entitled Dance Mix includes American music from Bernstein and Adams to Daugherty. Here are dances of a different kind: Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances from a 1994 recording:

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2 Responses to The Baltimore Symphony Turns 100

  1. Jonathan Jensen February 10, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    The musicians of the Baltimore Symphony are pleased to get a mention in your blog, and invite you and your readers to “like” our Facebook page, Baltimore Symphony Musicians. Lots happening this week to mark our centennial!

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