Cleveland Orchestra, based in Cleveland, is one of the five
American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five".
Founded in 1918 by the pianist and impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes,
the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall. As of
2017, the incumbent music director is Franz Welser-Möst.
In 2012 Gramophone Magazine ranked the
Orchestra number 7 on
its list of 20 of the world's greatest orchestras.
3 Music directors
4 Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellows
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
The orchestra was founded in 1918 by Adella Prentiss Hughes, with
Nikolai Sokoloff as its principal conductor. From early in its
existence, it toured throughout the eastern United States, made radio
broadcasts, and recorded many albums. Subsequent principal conductors,
with the title of Music Director, were
Artur Rodziński (1933–1943),
Erich Leinsdorf (1943–1944), and
George Szell (1946–1970).
From 1964 to 1965,
James Levine served as an apprentice to Szell with
Cleveland Orchestra, and then served as its assistant conductor
Subsequent Music Directors were
Pierre Boulez (Musical Advisor
Lorin Maazel (1972–1982), and Christoph von Dohnányi
Franz Welser-Möst has been Music Director since 2002
and is contracted to remain through the 2021-2022 season.
Szell's long reign as Music Director has been largely credited for the
orchestra's rise to eminence. He reformed the orchestra in the
late-1940s, firing a dozen musicians in the process with a dozen more
leaving of their own volition. Szell is also credited with giving
the orchestra its distinct, European sound. He pushed an ambitious
recording schedule with the orchestra, bringing its music to millions
worldwide. Szell's influence has continued, even decades after his
Cleveland is the smallest city amongst the traditional "Big Five"
orchestras; the others are based in Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
and Chicago. However, musicians in
Cleveland are often treated as
local celebrities, and, much like sports heroes elsewhere, fans seek
autographs after performances and greet musicians on the street.
Clevelanders are proud that their city boasts an orchestra that has
several times been touted as America's finest, and compared favorably
to many of the great orchestras in Central Europe. In the 1960s
fans were known to "have airport rallies when the orchestra comes home
from tour [and] chant, 'We're the best! We're the best!' and carry
placards reading 'Bravo!'" 
In addition to a vast catalog of recordings created with the
ensemble's music directors, the orchestra has made many recordings
with guest conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Oliver Knussen, Kurt
Sanderling, Yoel Levi, Riccardo Chailly, Michael Tilson Thomas, and
Louis Lane (the orchestra's longtime Associate Conductor). Past
assistant conductors of the
Orchestra include Matthias
Bamert, James Levine, Alan Gilbert,
James Judd and Michael Stern.
Severance Hall, the orchestra's home since 1931.
Severance Hall is the
Cleveland Orchestra's home. It was built for the
orchestra in 1931. The orchestra performs the majority of its concerts
at Severance and also uses the hall for rehearsals and to house their
administrative offices. The concert organ there is by Ernest M.
During the summer months, the orchestra presents their annual Blossom
Festival at the
Blossom Music Center
Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Until
Blossom Festival had its own music director. The last person
to serve in that capacity was Jahja Ling. After he stepped down from
that position, the orchestra eliminated the post, and now has current
Franz Welser-Möst in charge of the classical music
concerts at the Blossom Festival.
The orchestra also has long-term performing relationships in Lucerne,
Vienna, New York City, a residency in Miami, and has conducted
multi-concert tours on the West Coast off and on since the 1960s.
1918-1933 Nikolai Sokoloff
1933-1943 Artur Rodziński
1943-1946 Erich Leinsdorf
1946-1970 George Szell
Pierre Boulez (Musical advisor)
1972-1982 Lorin Maazel
1984-2002 Christoph von Dohnányi
2002–present Franz Welser-Möst
Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellows
1999-2000 Marc-André Dalbavie
2001-2003 Matthias Pintscher
2003-2005 Susan Botti
2005-2007 Julian Anderson
2007-2009 Johannes Maria Staud
2009-2011 Jörg Widmann
2011-2013 Sean Shepherd
2013-2015 Ryan Wigglesworth
2015-2017 Anthony Cheung
Orchestra Youth Orchestra
Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra
Cleveland Women's Orchestra
Cleveland Chamber Symphony
Red (an orchestra)
The Contemporary Youth Orchestra
Big Five (orchestras)
^ Michael Walsh (1983-04-25). "Which U.S. Orchestras are Best?". Time.
^ The world’s greatest orchestras gramophone.co.uk
^ "Met Opera Suspends
James Levine After New Sexual Abuse
Accusations," The New York Times.
^ "Met Opera suspends famed conductor accused of molestation," The New
Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most signs four-year
contract extension cleveland.com
^ James R. Oestreich (2008-06-07). "
Orchestra Extends Music
Director's Contract". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
^ a b c d "The Glorious Instrument". Time. 22 February 1963. Retrieved
^ Michael Walsh (1994-01-01). "The Finest Orchestra? (Surprise!)
Cleveland". Time. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
^ Valerie Scher (2005-09-04). "Ling bids farewell to fest: 'It is time
for me to move on'". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved
Orchestra and Miami Performing Arts Center announce
10-year agreement for annual residency appearances" (Press release).
2005-05-09. Archived from the original on 2006-05-16. Retrieved
Orchestra to give world premiere performances of
Topos by Anthony Cheung at May 18 and 20 concerts". Retrieved 8
Rosenberg, Donald (2000). The
Orchestra Story. Cleveland:
Gray & Company. ISBN 1-886228-24-8.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Orchestra Official website
Orchestra history at the
Wayback Machine (archived March 17,
2008) from the
Orchestra Youth Orchestra
Big Five American orchestras
New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic (1842)
Orchestra Music Directors
Nikolai Sokoloff (1918)
Artur Rodziński (1933)
Erich Leinsdorf (1943)
George Szell (1946)
Pierre Boulez (1970)
Lorin Maazel (1972)
Christoph von Dohnányi (1984)
Franz Welser-Möst (2002)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2284 9193
BNF: cb139025469 (data)