The Bamberg Symphony
Bamberg in Bavaria is a perfect jewel of a city in the very heart of Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage city, in its 1,000-year history Bamberg has produced stunning architecture, a Holy Roman Emperor, a Pope … and a world-class orchestra. Admired for its characteristic deep, rich yet brilliant sound, the Bamberg Symphony thrills audiences all over the world from the US to Japan, performing both the great classical repertoire and cutting-edge modern and contemporary music. Truly an extraordinary orchestra from an extraordinary city.
»Where would Bamberg be without its Orchestra?« It's no idle question. Bamberg, UNESCO World Heritage city, built on seven hills, like Rome, the only German city in which a Pope lies buried, city of cloisters, courtyards and a thousand-year-old cathedral, the religious, political and cultural capital of the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II, with 1,500 protected buildings! Bamberg is Germany's history, in stone; the Orchestra is a mere stripling by comparison. So where would Bamberg be without it?
The answer comes from Claude Debussy: »Music is an unfettered, undammed, outdoor art, on a par with the elements – wind, sky and sea!« Without its Orchestra, Bamberg would be deprived of something vital, something as basic as the air it breathes. True, Bambergers lived without it for more than a millennium, from 902, when the city was founded, to the founding of the Orchestra in 1946.
But now they can't. 6,000 subscribe to the Symphony every season; clearly, all that amateur music-making in palaces and homes, those austere plainchants and booming organs never satisfied the city's deep hunger.
And in 70 years, the Bamberg Symphony has become not only the musical hub of the entire region, it's one of Germany's most-travelled orchestras, the first to tour abroad after the war, notching up over 7,000 concerts in more than 500 cities and over 60 countries worldwide, and is now cultural ambassador for Bavaria and all of Germany.
Not forgetting its collaboration with Bavarian Radio, which dates back to 1950, when our legendary Chief Conductor Joseph Keilberth had just taken up his post; nor its many LPs and CDs, including the complete Schubert symphonies and the Mahler cycle, highlights of the Orchestra's recent achievements with Jonathan Nott.
In September 2016, Jakub Hrůša assumed musical direction of the Orchestra. The new Chief Conductor bridges, in the 70th year of the Bamberg Symphony, its past and its present. He is the fifth Chief Conductor in the history of the Orchestra.