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Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Biography

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the world’s most renowned orchestras. Its home base is Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, usually considered to be one of the three finest concert halls in the world.

The orchestra was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson. 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” 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 Center which is now the Tanglewood Music Center. Those network radio broadcasts ran from 1926 through 1951, and again from 1954 through 1956; the orchestra continues to make regular live radio broadcasts to the present day. The Boston Symphony was closely involved with the creation of WGBH Radio as an outlet for its concerts.

Koussevitzky also commissioned many new pieces from prominent composers, including the Symphony No. 4 of Sergei Prokofiev and the Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky. They also gave the premiere of Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, which had been commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation at the instigation of Fritz Reiner and Joseph Szigeti.

Koussevitzky started a tradition that was to be continued by the orchestra with commissions by Henri Dutilleux for its 75th anniversary, Roger Sessions, and Andrzej Panufnik, for the 100th, and lately for the 125th works by Leon Kirchner, Elliott Carter, and Peter Lieberson.

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