Austro-German Tradition in the New World
The BSO was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson. Its first conductor was George Henschel, a noted baritone as well as conductor, and a close friend of Johannes Brahms. The orchestra’s four subsequent music directors were all trained in Central Europe, including the highly influential Hungarian-born conductor Arthur Nikisch.
William Steinberg and DG
1969-70 proved to be a landmark season for the BSO – soon after the arrival of its new music director William Steinberg, the orchestra made its first recording for Deutsche Grammophon.
William Steinberg (1970s) by © DGDeutsche Grammophon
Steinberg conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Eugen Jochum & the BSODeutsche Grammophon
Because of Steinberg’s failing health, Rafael Kubelík conducted the BSO in their DG recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (part of Kubelík’s cycle of Beethoven symphonies with nine different orchestras), while Eugen Jochum took the helm for Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony and Schubert’s “Unfinished”.
The historic 29-year directorship of Seiji Ozawa, who succeeded Steinberg in 1973, left an indelible stamp on all the orchestra’s activities in Boston, at Tanglewood and abroad. It was under Ozawa, in 1979, that the BSO became the first American orchestra to tour mainland China.
The Current Director
Andris Nelsons, who was born in Riga (Latvia) in 1978, is one of the last conductors trained in the Soviet music tradition and represents a distinct musical voice influenced by both the Russian masters and, later, by the great composers of Western Europe. Under Nelsons, the BSO is currently recording the complete Shostakovich symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon.
Andris Nelsons & BSO - Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 - Under Stalin's Shadow (Trailer) (1907)Deutsche Grammophon
Andris Nelsons & BSO: Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 - Under Stalin's Shadow (Trailer)
Andris Nelsons by © courtesy BSO ArchivesDeutsche Grammophon
“I am completely thrilled and honoured to be leading this very exciting collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Deutsche Grammophon. It is an immense privilege to focus on the music of Shostakovich, a composer of such great personal courage and virtue, whose extraordinary work transcends even the circumstances in which it was written, and is timeless on many levels. At the same time, with my formative years spent in Soviet Latvia, the music of Shostakovich in particular speaks to me personally in a distinctive way and I’m sure that special affinity will be communicated in these recordings.” Andris Nelsons
"The unique sound of Symphony Hall, with the orchestra positioned on the house floor for these recordings, was always identifiable, different from any other recording space." – Ronald Barron, BSO principal trombone 1975-2008
Text by: Deutsche Grammophon