The Bamberg Symphony is an extraordinary orchestra in an extraordinary city. Bamberg without the Symphony would be a city bereft of something essential, something basic, like the air we breathe. Nigh on 10% of its inhabitants subscribe to one of the 5 home concert series. There are also quite a few special concerts, almost without exception fully sold out, so that Bamberg’s citizens attend a concert with their Orchestra on average once a year.
Yet the Bamberg Symphony is much more than simply the musical hub of the city and the entire region. It’s one of Germany’s most-travelled orchestras: since 1946, it has been delighting audiences worldwide with its characteristically dark, rounded, radiant sound. In that time it has given well over 7,000 concerts in more than 500 cities and 63 countries, and as the Bavarian State Philharmonic it regularly criss-crosses the globe as cultural ambassador to the world for Bavaria and all of Germany.
The circumstances surrounding its birth make the Bamberg Symphony a mirror of German history. In 1946, ex-members of Prague’s German Philharmonic Orchestra met fellow musicians who had likewise been forced to flee their homes by the war and its aftermath. Together they founded the »Bamberg Musicians’ Orchestra«, soon after renamed the Bamberg Symphony. Its lineage can be traced back through the Prague Orchestra to the 19th and 18th centuries, so that the Bamberg Symphony’s roots reach back to Mahler and Mozart.
Now, more than seventy years after it was founded, and with Czech-born Jakub Hrůša, the Orchestra’s fifth Chief Conductor, at the helm since September 2016, once again there is a living link from the Bamberg Symphony’s historic roots to its present.
From the beginning, the Bamberg Symphony’s global brand has also received a substantial boost from innumerable collaborations with Bavarian Radio – live concert relays, studio recordings and CDs. Recent as the partnership with Jakub Hrůša is, it has already produced several recordings, released by Tudor: the first was Smetana’s “Má Vlast”, followed by a 2-CD set of Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No.4 and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No.9 (“From the New World”), singled out by BBC Music Magazine as “Recording of the Month” in March 2019. As the reviewer wrote, “The orchestral playing is absolutely first-class with really distinctive solo wind and brass playing matching the gorgeous Central European warmth of the strings, and Hrůša’s conception of the music is totally compelling.” Tudor recently released a follow-up 2-CD set of Brahms’ Third Symphony and Dvořák’s Eighth.
And in the spring of 2018 came recognition of the high value this partnership places on concert programming, with the German Music Publishers’ Association’s award for “Best Concert Series”.