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Seattle Symphony

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The Seattle Symphony is an American orchestra based in Seattle, Washington Since 1998, the orchestra is resident at Benaroya Hall The orchestra's season runs from September through July, and serves as the pit orchestra for most productions of the Seattle Opera in addition to its own concerts


  • 1 History
    • 11 Beginnings
    • 12 Pacific Northwest Symphony Orchestra
    • 13 Gerard Schwarz
    • 14 Ludovic Morlot
  • 2 Music directors
  • 3 Performance Venues
  • 4 References
  • 5 Further reading
  • 6 External links



The orchestra gave its first performance on December 29, 1903, with Harry West conducting Known from its founding as the Seattle Symphony, it was renamed in 1911 as the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra In 1919, the orchestra was reorganized with new bylaws under the name Seattle Symphony Orchestra The 1921–22 season was cancelled due to financial problems1 The orchestra was revived in 1926 under the direction of Karl Krueger23

Pacific Northwest Symphony Orchestraedit

In 1947, the Seattle Symphony merged with the Tacoma Philharmonic to form the Pacific Northwest Symphony Orchestra Performances were held in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia, with conducting duties split between Carl Bricken and Eugene Linden4 This arrangement ceased after one season, when the Seattle Symphony decided to withdraw from it5 A feud between the musicians and the board surfaced in 1948, and a majority of the musicians divorced themselves from the board and created a new orchestra called the Seattle Orchestra, a partnership collective operated by the musicians themselves, who chose Linden as their conductor5 The Seattle Symphony announced a separate orchestra season with eighteen concerts at the old Meany Hall for the Performing Arts on the University of Washington campus The symphony was to be directed by Stanley Chapple, and a series of guest conductors: Artur Rodzinski, Jacques Singer, and Erich Leinsdorf6 Personnel for the Seattle Symphony were announced in the press on October 24, 1948, and included a few musicians who had chosen not to defect to the Seattle Orchestra and some new faces as well7 The Seattle Symphony season was then postponed and eventually cancelled The Seattle Orchestra, meanwhile, gave its first performance on November 23, 19488 An accommodation was reached between the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Orchestra, and the two organizations merged, and the name "Seattle Symphony Orchestra" was retained The partnership system was also retained, and musicians gained access onto the board9 The partnership system was eventually dissolved at the request of Milton Katims in 195510 Even so, for most of its 100-year history, and especially today, the ensemble is known by the two-word name "Seattle Symphony"

Former Seattle Symphony logo under Gerard Schwarz

Gerard Schwarzedit

Gerard Schwarz became music advisor of the orchestra in 1983 and principal conductor in 1984, before being named music director in 198511 Under Schwarz's leadership, the orchestra became particularly known for performing works of twentieth-century composers, especially neglected American composers Together, Schwarz and the orchestra have made more than 100 commercial recordings, including the major orchestral works of Howard Hanson and David Diamond as well as works by Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Walter Piston, Paul Creston, William Schuman, Alan Hovhaness, Morton Gould, David Diamond, and others, for Delos International and Naxos Records The orchestra received its first Grammy nomination in January 1990 for a 1989 recording of music of Howard Hanson12 The orchestra also recorded a musical score to the SeaWorld, Orlando, stage show A'lure, The Call of the Ocean

Schwarz received praise for his championing of American composers and his skills in fund-raising11 However, his tenure was also marked by controversies between him and several symphony musicians, which included several legal disputes13 In September 2008, the orchestra announced the conclusion of Schwarz's music directorship after the 2010–2011 season, at which time Schwarz became the orchestra's conductor laureateneeds update1114

Ludovic Morlotedit

Seattle Symphony logo

Ludovic Morlot first guest-conducted the Seattle Symphony in October 200915 He returned in April 2010, as a substitute conductor in the wake of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruptions16 Based on these appearance, in June 2010, the orchestra announced the appointment of Morlot as its 15th music director, effective with the 2011–2012 season, with an initial contract of six years17 In July 2015, the orchestra announced the extension of Morlot's contract through the 2018-2019 season18 Morlot has taken particular interest in fostering music from Seattle-based composers, including composers within the orchestra itself19 His work with the orchestra has included the commissioning and premiere of John Luther Adams' Become Ocean, which went on to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music and the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition The commercial recording of Become Ocean led to a donation by Taylor Swift to the Seattle Symphony of USD $50,000 to the Seattle Symphony20 Morlot and the orchestra have received additional Grammy Awards for their recordings of music of Henri Dutilleux2122 In April 2017, the orchestra announced that Morlot is to conclude his tenure as music director at the end of the 2018–2019 season23

Music directorsedit

  • Harry West 1903-1907
  • Michael Kegrize 1907-1909
  • Henry Hadley 1909-1911
  • John Spargur 1911-1921
  • Karl Krueger 1926-1932
  • Basil Cameron 1932-1938
  • Nikolai Sokoloff 1938-1941
  • Thomas Beecham 1941-1944
  • Carl Bricken 1944-1948
  • Eugene Linden 1948-1950
  • Manuel Rosenthal 1950-1951
  • Milton Katims 1954-1976
  • Rainer Miedél 1976-1983
  • Gerard Schwarz 1985-2011
  • Ludovic Morlot 2011–present

Performance Venuesedit

  • 1903-1905 Christensen Hall, Arcade Building
  • 1905-1907 Grand Opera House Seattle, Washington
  • 1907-1911 Moore Theatre
  • 1911-1919 Metropolitan Theatre
  • 1919-1921 Meany Hall for the Performing Arts
  • 1926-1938 Metropolitan Theatre
  • 1938-1945 Music Hall
  • 1945-1949 Moore Theatre
  • 1949-1950 Meany Hall for the Performing Arts
  • 1950-1953 Seattle Civic Auditorium
  • 1953-1955 Orpheum Theatre
  • 1955-1956 Moore Theatre
  • 1956-1962 Orpheum Theatre
  • 1962-1998 Seattle Opera House
  • 1998–present Benaroya Hall


  1. ^ "No Symphony This Season" The Seattle Times, 9 October 1921, p 21
  2. ^ "Seattle Symphony Orchestra Assured," The Seattle Times, 4 June 1926, p 13
  3. ^ "The Musician and the Playgoer", Town Crier, 13 November 1926, pp 11–12
  4. ^ Joe Miller, "NW Symphony Selects Name," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1 October 1947
  5. ^ a b Campbell, Esther W 1978 Bagpipes in the Woodwind Section: A History of the Seattle Symphony and its Women's Organization Seattle: Seattle Symphony Women's Organization pp 57–58 OCLC 5792179 
  6. ^ Richard E Hays, "Seattle Symphony Lists 18 Concerts for Season," The Seattle Times, 10 October 1948
  7. ^ "Orchestra Personnel for 2 Groups Listed," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 24 October 1948
  8. ^ Seattle Orchestra, Program, 23 November 1948
  9. ^ Suzanne Martin, "Music Groups in Agreement on Symphony," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 January 1949, p 3
  10. ^ Seattle Musicians Association, Minutes, Meeting of the Board of Directors, 25 March 1955, 1 June 1955
  11. ^ a b c Jack Broom 2008-09-11 "Seattle Symphony's Gerard Schwarz is stepping down" The Seattle Times Retrieved 2010-04-24 
  12. ^ Melinda Bargreen 1990-01-12 "Grammy City - Three Nominations Put Seattle Symphony And Schwarz In The Big Time" The Seattle Times Retrieved 2010-08-09 
  13. ^ Daniel J Wakin and James R Oestreich 2007-12-16 "In Seattle, a Fugue for Orchestra and Rancor" New York Times Retrieved 2010-04-24 
  14. ^ Daniel J Wakin 2008-09-11 "Seattle’s Conductor Plans His Departure" New York Times Retrieved 2010-04-24 
  15. ^ Melinda Bargreen 2009-10-23 "Seattle Symphony with guest conductor Ludovic Morlot" Seattle Times Retrieved 2016-06-04 
  16. ^ Bernard Jacobson 2010-04-23 "After the volcano, the show goes on at Seattle Symphony" Seattle Times Retrieved 2016-06-04 
  17. ^ Melinda Bargreen 29 June 2010 "Rising French star Ludovic Morlot chosen to replace Schwarz at Seattle Symphony" The Seattle Times Retrieved 2010-07-02 
  18. ^ "Music Director Ludovic Morlot's Contract Extended Through 2019" Press release Seattle Symphony Orchestra 2015-07-10 Retrieved 2015-07-21 
  19. ^ Zachary Woolfe 2012-01-27 "A Symphony's Leader Takes Seattle by Storm" The New York Times Retrieved 2016-06-04 
  20. ^ Michael Cooper 2015-12-03 "Taylor Swift Gives $50,000 to Seattle Symphony" The New York Times ArtsBeat blog Retrieved 2016-06-04 
  21. ^ Melissa Davis 2016-02-15 "Seattle Symphony is only local Grammy winner" Seattle Times Retrieved 2017-04-30 
  22. ^ Melissa Davis 2017-02-12 "Seattle Symphony wins Grammy No 3" Seattle Times Retrieved 2017-04-30 
  23. ^ Kiley, Brendan 2017-04-21 "Seattle Symphony conductor Ludovic Morlot to leave next year" The Seattle Times Retrieved 2017-04-23 

Further readingedit

  • Writer's Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Washington 1941 Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort p 138 OCLC 5847836 

External linksedit

  • Seattle Symphony official website
  • University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections - The Milton Katims Audio Collection

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Seattle Symphony

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