Radio presentations

Not everything the orchestra played was heard at public concerts. From the mid-1930s until the 1960s, there were also radio productions: music was recorded or broadcast live on Radio Sweden.

In the old days, the season break meant a loss of income for all of the musicians, who were only employed during the actual concert season. This used to be the case for most professional orchestral musicians, not just in Sweden, but even internationally, with the exception of some opera orchestras, for example.

In Sweden, the solution was for public broadcaster Radiotjänst to agree to pay the musicians’ wages a few months of the year, including a few weeks of holiday. In return, Radiotjänst could use the country’s fixed symphony orchestra under the name “Radio Orchestra” in order to fill the radio schedules with music. The system was phased out in the 1960s. 

The operation began in October 1937. The Stockholm Concert Society performed on the radio under three different names: Radiotjänsts Symfoniorkester (Radiotjänst Symphony Orchestra) (all 88 musicians); Stockholms Radioorkester (Stockholm Radio Orchestra) (53 musicians, expanded to 65 musicians from September 1943); and Radiotjänsts Underhållningsorkester (Radiotjänst Entertainment Orchestra) (35 musicians). 

The conductor of the Radiotjänst Symphony Orchestra and Stockholm Radio Orchestra was Nils Grevillius from 1937–1939, and Tor Mann from 1939–1959. Ivar Hellman was second conductor from 1941–1954.

From autumn 1943, Radiotjänst Symphony Orchestra was led by Tor Mann, Lars-Erik Larsson, Ivar Hellman (through 1954), and Issay Dobrowen was a regular guest conductor.

Lars-Erik Larsson was conductor of the Radiotjänst Entertainment Orchestra, formed in 1937 and disbanded in 1943, and then the 10-person Radiotjänst Chamber Orchestra, which existed from 1943–1954.

From 1954, the radio performances were all under the name Radiotjänst Symphony Orchestra (no matter the size of the orchestra) and the chief conductor for all forms was Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt from 1955–1964.