The BBC Symphony Orchestra was founded under
Sir Adrian Boult in 1930 as London’s first permanent orchestra.
The orchestra’s reputation as a pioneer of new music and
large-scale Romantic and 20th-century works is long standing,
and this commitment continues undiminished today. In its
long history it has given the first performances of well
over a thousand pieces, many of which were commissioned
by the BBC and have now become twentieth-century classics.
As the flagship Orchestra of the BBC, it provides the
backbone of the world-renowned BBC Proms, with fourteen
appearances including the Last Night which is enjoyed
by audiences all over the world. The orchestra’s busy
schedule also includes a regular series of concerts in
London’s Royal Festival Hall, Invitation Concerts and
studio recordings at its home in the BBC Maida Vale Studios
and regional UK concerts - all broadcast on BBC Radio
3 - alongside international tours and an increasing number
of commercial recordings.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s chief conductors have included
Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Gennady Rozhdestvensky
and John Pritchard. Andrew Davis CBE was appointed Chief
Conductor in 1989 - a position he holds until the year
2000, when he will become the orchestra’s first-ever Conductor
Laureate. In 1995 the Czech conductor Jiri Belohlavek
was appointed Principal Guest Conductor.
Past guest conductors have included Toscanini, Weingartner,
Koussevitzky, Scherchen, Maazel and Haitink. The orchestra
has also worked closely with many of the great composers
of the twentieth-century including, Bartók, Berio, Henze,
Lutoslawski, Part, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Stockhausen,
Strauss and Stravinsky.
Every January, the Orchestra celebrates the work of
a 20th-century composer with a weekend festival - recent
festivals have focused on Berg, Janacek, Tavener, Hindemith,
Ives, Lutoslawski, Martinu and Messiaen.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra has a busy touring schedule
recently visiting Japan, Korea, the USA and appearing
at Festivals in Aldeburgh, Salzburg, Bad Kissingen and
The BBC SO’s reputation for promoting the work of contemporary
composers whilst embracing established masterpieces is
thriving. It plans for an increasingly adventurous future,
continuing its position as one of the country’s leading
orchestras and fulfilling a key role in British cultural