Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) |

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) |

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Year of foundation
A type
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) |

Gewandhaus (German. Gewandhaus, literally – clothes house) – the name of the concert society, hall and symphony orchestra in Leipzig. The history of Gewandhaus concerts dates back to 1743, when the tradition of the so-called. “Big Concerts” (an amateur orchestra of 16 people was led by I.F. Dales). After a break caused by the Seven Years’ War, the orchestra called “Amateur Concertos” resumed its activities under the direction of I. A. Hiller (1763-85), who brought the orchestra to 30 people.

In 1781, the Leipzig mayor W. Müller formed a directorate, which led the orchestra. The composition was expanded and a subscription was opened, consisting of 24 concerts a year. From 1781, the orchestra performed in the former building for the sale of cloth – Gewandhaus. In 1884, a new building of the concert hall was built on the site of the old one, retaining the name Gewandhaus (the so-called New Gewandhaus; it was destroyed during the 2nd World War 1939-45). The Gewandhaus Concert Hall was a permanent venue for the performance of this orchestra (hence the name – the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra).

At the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th centuries. the Gewandhaus orchestra formed into an excellent musical group, especially strengthened under the leadership of F. Mendelssohn (headed the orchestra in 1835-47). During this period, the repertoire expanded significantly, including works by J. S. Bach, L. Beethoven, and contemporary authors. The Gewandhaus Orchestra acquires a unique creative style, distinguished by its exceptional flexibility, richness of the timbre palette, and ensemble perfection. After the death of Mendelssohn, the Gewandhaus Orchestra was conducted by J. Ritz (1848-60) and K. Reinecke (1860-95). Here, on December 24, 1887, a subscription concert of the works of P. I. Tchaikovsky took place, under the direction of the author.

With the entry of A. Nikish to the post of chief conductor (1895-1922), the Gewandhaus orchestra received worldwide recognition. Nikish undertook the first tour abroad (104-1916) with an orchestra (of 17 people). His successors were W. Furtwängler (1922-28) and B. Walter (1929-33). In 1934-45, the Gewandhaus Orchestra was headed by G. Abendrot, in 1949-62 by F. Konvichny, under whose direction the Gewandhaus Orchestra made 15 tours abroad (since 1956, the orchestra has repeatedly visited the USSR). From 1964 to 1968, the head of the Gewandhaus Orchestra (comprising 180 people) was the Czech conductor V. Neumann, from 1970 to 1996 – K. Mazur, from 1998 to 2005 – Herbert Blomstedt. Riccardo Chailly has directed the orchestra since 2005.

The orchestra’s concerts are attended by the Gewandhaus Choir and the Thomaskirche Choir (when performing oratorios and cantatas). The orchestra is the official orchestra of the Leipzig Opera.

X. Seeger

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