Boston Symphony Orchestra

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five".[1] Founded in 1881[2], the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center. The music director is James Levine.


Early history

The orchestra was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson. Its music directors were of German-speaking origin until World War I, when its conductor Karl Muck - born in Germany but a Swiss citizen since childhood - was arrested, shortly before a performance of the St. Matthew Passion, and interned in a prison camp without trial or charge until the end of the war, when he was deported. He vowed never to return, and conducted thereafter only in Europe. Its next two music directors were French: Henri Rabaud, who took over from Muck for a season, and then Pierre Monteux from 1919 to 1924. Monteux, because of a musician's strike, was able to replace 30 players, thus changing the orchestra's sound; the orchestra developed a reputation for a "French" sound which persists to some degree to this day.[3]

First live orchestra concert on radio

The orchestra's reputation increased during the music directorship of Serge Koussevitzky. One million radio listeners tuned in when Koussevitzky and the orchestra were the first to perform a live concert for radio broadcast, which they did on NBC in 1926.[4]

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 Boston's WGBH Radio as an outlet for its concerts.

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