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The Orchestra’s History

The story begins in 1902, with the formation of the Stockholm Concert Society. In 1957, the name was changed to the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 1992, the name has been the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. The history of the orchestra is told here through its chief conductors and high-profile guests, who – together with all of the orchestra members – have contributed to building up and establishing today’s top orchestra.

Birth of the orchestra

The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1902; it was known then as the Stockholm Concert Society. Composer, violinist and conductor Tor Aulin was among the founders.

Schnéevoigt’s reboot

1915–24. The years under Finnish-Swedish conductor Georg Schnéevoigt comprised a period of powerful growth, with full-time musicians.

Talich and the new building

1926–36. Czech conductor Václav Talich came to an orchestra that had been without a chief conductor for two years after Schnéevoigt, but also to an orchestra that finally had its own Konserthuset – inaugurated in 1926.

War and unrest

1937–40. German conductor Fritz Busch’s time with the orchestra was cut short due to World War II. At the same time, the late 1930s had a high-level orchestra, with guest performances from the era’s most distinguished conductors.

A director’s director

1939–70. Johannes Norrby was the legendary executive director of Konserthuset from 1939 to 1970. His artistic and administrative influence were without a doubt on a par with many chief conductors.

From violinist to conductor

1942–53. With the violinist and newly minted conductor Carl Garaguly, the orchestra gained a chief conductor who raised the technical bar and who, in addition to the classics, also had an enormous interest in newer music.

New name, new music

1955–64. During German Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt’s time as chief conductor, the Stockholm Concert Society’s name was changed to the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

Dorati’s dynasty

1966–74. Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati’s work with the orchestra is one of the most important eras in its history. He also led several major European and US tours, something that gave the orchestra an international reputation and which had never before been done with such intention.

Gennady’s first term

1974–77. Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky’s first period as chief conductor. His tough-to-pronounce name led to the musicians generally calling him “Roffe Svensson” (common Swedish name with a similiarity in sound).

New Russian leadership

1982–87. Russian Yuri Ahronovitch was offered the position as chief conductor already after his first concerts with the orchestra. He led acclaimed tours of Europe and the US.

Household name

1987–91. Finnish Paavo Berglund took over the orchestra from 1987–91. His international prominence entailed a boost for the orchestra’s reputation. Berglund led major European tours in 1987 and 1989, and a tour of Japan in 1990.

Gennady’s second term

1991–95. For the first and only time to date in the orchestra’s history, a chief conductor was re-elected: Gennady Rozhdestvensky returned to Stockholm for a second period as chief conductor. And in 1992, the orchestra was renamed yet another time, from the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra to the current Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

Double chairs

1995–98. Estonian Paavo Järvi and British Andrew Davis (picture). During the period of 1995–98, Järvi and Davis together were the principal guest conductors of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, but there was no chief conductor.

An American ignition

2000–08. American Alan Gilbert and the orchestra’s successful years together entailed a mutual evolution. Once again, the ensemble regained its place in the international arena.

Sakari Oramo

Since 2008. Finnish Sakari Oramo took over as chief conductor in 2008. In a very fruitful and dynamic partnership with the orchestra, he has contributed highly regarded recordings and growing international attention.