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BBC Symphony Orchestra

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Biography

The BBC Symphony Orchestra is the principal 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 by Adrian Boult. He remained principal 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) and Andrew Davis (no relation to Colin) who held from the post from 1989 until he was succeeded by Leonard Slatkin in 2000. 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 it was announced that the Czech conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek would become Chief Conductor from the first night of The Proms, 2006.

As well as these principal conductors, the orchestra has had several notable guest conductors, including Arturo Toscanini. The current Principal Guest Conductor is David Robertson who took on the role in October 2005 in succession from Jukka-Pekka Saraste, who stepped-down at the end of August 2005.

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.

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