The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra Turns 275

One of the world’s oldest and most eminent orchestras is turning 275.

Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra kicked off a four week-long festival yesterday, commemorating the anniversary of its founding by the city’s nobility in 1743. Additionally, the festival celebrates the inauguration of Music Director Andris Nelsons. (The Latvian conductor is also currently Music Director of the Boston Symphony). Nelson’s recent predecessors include Riccardo Chailly, Herbert Blomstedt, and Kurt Masur. Bruno Walter and Wilhelm Furtwängler occupied the post prior to the Second World War. Felix Mendelssohn led the orchestra between 1835 and 1847, premiering Schubert’s Ninth Symphony and Schumann’s Symphonies among other notable works.

Nelsons and the Gewandhaus Orchestra have released an exciting new Deutsche Grammophon album featuring Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony and Wagner’s Prelude to the First Act of Lohengrin. This is the latest installment in a cycle of Bruckner recordings. (Nelsons and the Gewandhaus have already released the Third Symphony, and the Seventh comes out on April 6).

We’ll dig deeper into Bruckner’s monumental Fourth Symphony in a future post. For now, let’s listen to two excerpts from this live concert recording- the Symphony’s first and third movements.

The opening of the first movement emerges out of silence. We don’t “hear” the exact moment it begins. Instead, it materializes as a sudden, haunting presence. This barely-audible rumble of vibration opens the door to the plaintive, heroic horn call which forms the seed for the entire symphony.

The modern horn is a descendent of ancient hunting horns. We hear echoes of a distant, far-off medieval hunting party, and the murmurs of the forest, in the Fourth Symphony’s Scherzo. 

Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture

Mendelssohn conducted the first stand-alone performance of the Overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Gewandhaus on February 12, 1846. Just over a hundred and seventy years later, here is Andris Nelsons’ recording:


  • Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major, Wagner: Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Andris Nelsons iTunes
  • Bruckner: Symphony No. 3, Wagner: Overture to Tannhäuser, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Andris Nelsons iTunes 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

2 thoughts on “The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra Turns 275

    • This happens occasionally in certain countries. I’m not sure why they get blocked. Hopefully, you can find these recordings elsewhere, or access them through the iTunes links I provided.

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