London Symphony Orchestra


Founded in 1904, the London Symphony Orchestra was this country’s first independent, self-governing orchestra. It soon became a limited company, owned and managed by the players. Hans Richter was the first in a long line of distinguished conductors to be associated with the LSO, and the Orchestra also formed connections with many of the country’s foremost composers, including a close and enduring relationship with Sir Edward Elgar. Other Principal Conductors include Sir Thomas Beecham, Pierre Monteux, Colin Davis and Claudio Abbado. The current incumbent is Valery Gergiev.

The LSO has always attracted players of top quality. In recent years the introduction of the ‘joint Principal’ scheme has encouraged musicians of the highest calibre to bring their skills to the Orchestra whilst giving them the flexibility to maintain their own solo and chamber careers. The Orchestra’s pioneering spirit was strong even in the early years – it was the first British orchestra to travel abroad when it visited Paris in 1906 and later became the first to visit America (1912), Israel (1960) and Japan (1963). In 1966, the Orchestra was invited to take up a biennial residency at the Florida International Festival and seven years later it was the first British orchestra to be invited to appear at the prestigious Salzburg Festival. In 1982 the LSO took up residency in the new Barbican Centre where it was privileged to have at last found a home base in London. In 2001 the Barbican Hall was refurbished, and the LSO now plays in what is undoubtedly the finest symphony hall in London.

Today the LSO tours around the globe with regular visits to Europe, Japan and the USA. It is the only British orchestra to hold an annual residency at the Lincoln Center, New York, where every year it presents one of its major artistic events, first performed in London.