Boston Symphony Orchestra

Boston Symphony OrchestraThe Boston Symphony made its first acoustical recordings in 1917 in Camden, New Jersey for the Victor Talking Machine Company with Karl Muck. Among the first discs recorded was the finale to Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony. Typical of acoustical recordings, the musicians had to crowd around a large horn that transferred the sounds to a recording machine.

It was under Serge Koussevitsky that the orchestra made its first electrical recordings, also for Victor, in the late 1920s. Using a single microphone for a process Victor called “Orthophonic”, the first recordings included Ravel’s Boléro. Recording sessions took place in Symphony Hall. Koussevitsky’s final recording with the Boston Symphony was a high fidelity version of Sibelius’ second symphony, recorded in 1950 and released on LP.

In February 1954, RCA Victor began recording the orchestra in stereo, under the direction of Charles Munch. RCA continued to record Munch and the orchestra through 1962, his final year as music director in Boston (see the Charles Munch discography for a complete list of commercial recordings with the BSO under Charles Munch). During Munch’s tenure, Pierre Monteux made a series or records with the BSO for RCA Victor (see Pierre Monteux for a complete list of commercial recordings with the BSO).

Erich Leinsdorf, who had already made numerous recordings for RCA, continued his association with the company during his seven years in Boston. These included a critically acclaimed performance of Brahms’ German Requiem (see Erich Leinsdorf for a complete list).

Then, the orchestra switched to Deutsche Grammophon under William Steinberg. RCA recorded a handful of LPs with Steinberg and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique with Georges Prêtre during the transition to DG (see William Steinberg for a complete list of commercial recordings). Michael Tilson Thomas, who was an assistant conductor under Steinberg, also made several recordings for DG; some of these have been reissued on CD. Due to Steinberg’s illness, DG recorded the BSO with Rafael Kubelik in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana and in Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra as well as with Eugen Jochum conducting Symphony No. 41 by Wolfgang Mozart and Franz Schubert’s Symphony 8.

As a guest conductor in the 1960s, Seiji Ozawa made several recordings with the BSO for RCA Victor. Seiji Ozawa continued the BSO relationship with DG while making several other releases for New World. Over the course of Ozawa’s tenure, the BSO diversified its relationships making recordings under Ozawa with CBS, EMI, Philips Records, RCA, and TELARC.

The BSO also recorded for Philips under its principal guest conductor, Sir Colin Davis (see Sir Colin Davis for a complete list). Leonard Bernstein made records for both Columbia and DG. It also appeared on Decca with Vladimir Ashkenazy, with Charles Dutoit and Andre Previn for DG, and on Phillips and Sony with Bernard Haitink (see Bernard Haitink for a complete list).

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has also done recording for film scores on occasion. Films such as Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan (both composed and conducted by John Williams) were recorded by the Orchestra at Symphony Hall.

 

Boston Symphony Orchestra – Wikipedia