Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart

The Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) is one of Germany’s most important musical ambassadors, giving about 90 concerts a year in Stuttgart, in the area covered by SWR broadcasts, and in musical centers in Germany and abroad. One exceptional and internationally acclaimed event was the concert given on the occasion of the Pope Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday April 16th 2007, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting and Hilary Hahn as the soloist.

Since its formation in 1945 the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO) has concentrated on two thematic focal points. On the one hand, with its exemplary interpretations it fosters the great classic and romantic repertoire of the symphonic tradition; on the other, the RSO is also a leading promoter of contemporary music and of neglected works and composers.

In its early years, the newly-founded broadcasting station started up special series of concerts devoted to the promotion of contemporary music. Many important composers, such as Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Pierre Boulez, Hans-Werner Henze, Krzysztof Penderecki, Luciano Berio, Mauricio Kagel, Johannes Kalitzke, Peter Ruzicka and Matthias Pintscher have conducted performances of their own works at concerts given by the Stuttgart RSO. Today, the orchestra is the host of two concert series “attacca Geistesgegenwart.Musik” and “ECLAT”, to provide a forum for avant-garde music, including the first performances of numerous works commissioned by the SWR. Here young composers find a platform where they can realize their musical experiments and concepts of sound.

In 1945, when the newly-founded broadcasting station “Radio Stuttgart” started recruiting musicians to form the radio orchestra, nobody could have guessed how quickly this orchestra would develop and how spectacular its rise to artistic prominence would be in the course of the next few decades. The orchestra is frequently invited as a guest to play international music festivals and concert halls, for example in Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, London, Lucerne, Munich, Paris, Salzburg, Shanghai, Tokyo, Vienna and Zurich.

Since the 1950’s, the RSO has regularly played at the “Schwetzingen Festival”, where every year it gives opera performances, including numerous world premieres and rediscovered rare operas, as well as orchestra master classes in Schwetzingen Castle. In addition, the orchestra also engages in many studio productions for the broadcasting station’s radio and television programmes and for the recording industry. Several of these recordings have received international prizes. The RSO documents the results of its work, past and present, on the SWR’s own CD label SWRmusic, released in conjunction with hänsslerCLASSIC.

The orchestra celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2005/2006 with an extended concert tour in South-Eastern Europe and gave its debut in China. The 2006/2007 season focused on selected Symphonies of Anton Bruckner.

In the spring of 2010, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra went on a three-week concert tour throughout China, Japan and Korea, together with Soloists Claire Huangci (piano), Daniel Hope (violin), Hyeyoon Park (violin) and conductor Sir Roger Norrington.

In Shanghai, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) was invited to perform as part of the opening ceremony of the EXPO 2010 on May 1. Following the concert, the RSO held a 3-day Orchestra Academy on “historically authentic performing practice” for students of the Shanghai Concervatory of Music.

The Stuttgart RSO will continue to meet the demands of international concert platforms, to give guest concerts in neighbouring countries and to undertake overseas tours. This international competition is an essential element that helps ensure that the high musical standards of the concerts given in the area covered by SWR broadcasts and in the South West German Broadcasting Station’s radio programme are maintained.

Under the baton of ...

The year 1971 marked an important caesura in the history of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, for in this year Sergiu Celibidache was appointed Principal Conductor and with his intensive and inspiring rehearsal work developed a new, pioneering ideal of sound which shaped performance style for many years. The “Celibidache Edition”, released by Deutsche Grammophon, contains a selection of fine recordings of concerts with works by Brahms, Bruckner, Debussy, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, Respighi, Strauss and Stravinsky. The latest issue in this series is “Der Taschengarten” (“Pocket Garden”), the only composition by Sergiu Celibidache which he authorised and recorded during his lifetime.

Sir Neville Marriner, who took over as Principal Conductor in 1983, widened the orchestra’s radius by undertaking international tours to the Far East and the USA with them. He also stepped up the number of gramophone records produced, resulting in over 80 recordings with works ranging from Beethoven to Bernstein.

He was succeeded in 1989 by Gianluigi Gelmetti, who concentrated more on the Italian and French musical repertoire, especially on the works of Gioacchino Rossini and Maurice Ravel. Under his leadership the Stuttgart RSO was invited to be the first orchestra from outside Italy to perform at the “Rossini Festival” in Pesaro. In addition, Gelmetti and the RSO recorded the complete orchestral works of Maurice Ravel for EMI.

With Georges Prêtre, who became the Artistic Director in 1996 and is still Laureate Conductor of the RSO, another charismatic personality presided over the orchestra. Among a series of concerts given in the course of a tour to celebrate the orchestra’s fiftieth anniversary, Prêtre and the RSO performed in the Musikvereinssaal in Vienna. The CD of Richard Strauss’s opera “Capriccio” with Dame Felicity Lott in the leading role, released on the Forlane label, is one of the most impressive recordings documenting Prêtre’s collaboration with the RSO.

From 1998 until 2011, Sir Roger NorringtonSir Roger Norrington was the Principal Conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. Norrington has managed to give the orchestra a quite unmistakable profile by combining historically authentic performing practice with the means available to a modern symphony orchestra — the result of this synthesis has been hailed by critics as the “Stuttgart Sound”. It adjusts the configuration of the orchestra, the instrumentation, articulation, phrasing and style to the composer’s own concept of sound.

In September 2011, Stéphane Denève succeeded Sir Roger Norrington as the newly-appointed Chief Conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Today the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra’s Permanent Guest Conductors are Andrey Boreyko and Peter Eötvös.