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Daniel Müller-Schott
NDR Sinfonieorchester
Christoph Eschenbach
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NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg

NDR Sinfonieorchester

The NDR symphony orchestra was founded in 1945. For more than a quarter of a century it was Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, its first Chief Conductor, who stamped his artistic profile into the orchestra, and quickly made it well known far beyond the bounds of the City-State of Hamburg. It made its first tour of Germany as early as 1949, and only a year later it made its first foreign tour – important politically as well as musically – to Paris. Other major concert tours brought the NDR Symphony Orchestra great international acclaim as one of the first German symphony orchestras. Conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Hans Knappertsbusch, Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Ferenc Fricsay, and Karl Böhm stood on the rostrum in front of the NDR Symphony Orchestra as guest conductors during the Schmidt-Isserstedt era.

In addition to maintaining the Classical and Romantic repertoire, one of the main priorities in the orchestra’s work has always lain in the presentation of contemporary works. Conductors such as Bruno Maderna, Hans Rosbaud, Pierre Boulez, Michael Gielen und Krzysztof Penderecki, who was a constant guest conductor for many years from 1988 onwards, conducted important first performances in Hamburg.

After the era of Moshe Atzmon and Klaus Tennstedt, the chief conductors in the 1970s, the 20 years of intensive co-operation between the orchestra and Günter Wand gave it a significance such as it had not known since the Schmidt-Isserstedt era. He was appointed its Chief Conductor in 1982 and soon afterwards, in 1987, its Honorary Director for life. He dominated the artistic work of the NDR Symphony Orchestra until his death in 2002, bringing it to its apogee with worldwide acclaim for its joint Bruckner interpretations. Numerous CD and TV productions provide impressive testimony to the extraordinary artistic standing of this collaboration.

The series of chief conductors was continued in the 1990s initially with John Eliot Gardiner and Herbert Blomstedt. In 1998 Christoph Eschenbach was appointed to this position, and during the five years in which he was in office he and the orchestra recorded major cycles of works such as Mahler’s and Shostakovich’s symphonies. He also devoted himself intensively to contemporary music, which he presented to his audience in concert programmes of innovative design. At the start of the 2004/05 Christoph von Dohnányi continued the tradition of major conductor personalities in the top position with the NDR Symphony Orchestra, supported by Alan Gilbert in the position of First Guest Conductor.

The NDR Symphony Orchestra holds its own series of subscription concerts in Hamburg, Lübeck, Kiel, and Bremen, and regularly makes guest concert tours to the most important European festivals, appearing on all the major concert stages. It has also earned itself great respect from its tours to Japan, China, South America, and of course the USA.

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