Founded in 1881, Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is the result of Bostonian Henry Lee Higginson's long-standing dream to have a great and permanent orchestra in his hometown. Presently, it is one of the largest orchestral organizations in the world, with three distinct areas of operation - the Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the symphony's main aim is to make and present music at the highest possible level of excellence.
The debut performance of the BSO was held at the Old Boston Music Hall under the direction of Georg Henschel. In 1884, Henschel’s tenure as a music director ended and he was succeeded by a series of German-born and trained conductors such as Wilhelm Gericke, Arthur Nikisch, Emil Paur, Max Fiedler, and Karl Muck.
For nearly 20 years, the concerts of the BSO were performed at the Music Hall. Since its inauguration on October 15, 1900, the historic Symphony Hall has been the regular venue for the performance of BSO concerts.
In 1915, the orchestra made its first transcontinental trip to San Francisco where it played 13 concerts at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. The orchestra began regular radio broadcast during the tenure of Koussevitzky – a legendary music director who founded the Berkshire Music Center, now known as Tanglewood Music Center. The orchestra rose to fame with its interpretations of the French repertoire under the direction of conductors such as Pierre Monteux and Charles Munch.
With the founding of the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1885, Higginson’s dream to present concerts of a lighter kind of music was fulfilled.
Based in Lenox, Massachusetts^, the Tanglewood Music Center is the summer home of the BSO and is an important training ground for young composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and vocalists. In addition, the Berkshire Festival at the Tanglewood is one of the world’s most important music festivals.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players, one of the world's most distinguished chamber ensembles sponsored by a major symphony orchestra and made up of the principal players of that major symphony orchestra, include the symphony’s first-desk string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players.
The BSO has recorded numerous pieces throughout its celebrated history. It has performed throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, and China, apart from reaching audiences through its performance on radio and television. It also organizes a variety of outreach programs. Today, the orchestra presents more than 250 concerts annually.