The Story of Scotland’s National Orchestra
- Jan 19
Scottish Orchestra is founded
The Orchestra was officially founded as the Scottish Orchestra following earlier gathering of orchestral players to accompany the Glasgow Choral Union in the first Scottish performance of Handel's Messiah in April 1844.
- 1893Jan 19
George Henschel becomes the Orchestra’s first Principal Conductor, and the Orchestra gives its first orchestral concerts under its new title.
- 1895Jan 22
Willem Kes becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1896Jan 19
First overseas tour
Scottish Orchestra’s first overseas tour: a two-week trip to the Netherlands, under Principal Conductor Willem Kes.
- 1898Jan 22
Wilhelm Bruch becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1900Jan 19
Gustav Holst joins the Scottish Orchestra as second trombonist. He would stay with the Orchestra until 1904. You can see him in this photo, circled in red - he's third from the left in the back row. Click here to view larger imageJan 22
Dr Frederic H Cowen becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1902Jan 19
Richard Strauss conducts the Orchestra in a programme including his Don Juan and Death and Transfiguration.
- 1910Jan 22
Emil Mlynarski becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1915Jan 19
Pianist Artur Rubinstein visits to perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
- 1916Jan 19
First World War – Concerts Abandoned
Concerts by the Scottish Orchestra were abandoned between 1916 and 1918, due to the First World War.
- 1919Jan 22
Landon Ronald becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1933Jan 19
The Great Depression
Orchestra faces financial troubles during the Depression, but subscribers and guarantors put in healthy funds that guaranteed the Orchestra’s future.Jan 19
John Barbirolli becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1936Jan 19
George Szell becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1939Jan 19
World War II
The Orchestra's concert programme was reduced at the outbreak of the Second World War, with concerts being cancelled at short notice following threats of air raids.Jan 22
Aylmer Buesst becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1940Jan 22
Warwick Braithwaite becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1943Jan 19
Double the concerts!
The Orchestra management double the number of season concerts from 27 to 53, admitting it is an ‘adventure’ – but the fuller season becomes a permanent feature.
- 1946Jan 22
Walter Susskind becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1947Jan 19
The first Edinburgh International Festival
The Scottish Orchestra performs under Principal Conductor Walter Susskind at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival.
- 1950Jan 19
The Scottish National Orchestra – a full-time band
Orchestra renamed Scottish National Orchestra, and becomes a permanent, full-time ensemble.
- 1952Jan 22
Karl Rankl becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1957Jan 22
Hans Swarowsky becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1959Jan 19
Alexander Gibson becomes Principal Conductor. He would remain in the post for the next 25 years, performing all seven Sibelius symphonies in his opening season.
- 1960Jan 19
Alexander Gibson founds Musica Viva, first a concert and later a triennial festival of contemporary music. Later renamed Musica Nova, it would continue until 1990.
- 1962Jan 19
St Andrew’s Hall Fire
St Andrew’s Hall in Glasgow, the SNO’s principal concert venue, is almost entirely destroyed by fire on 26 October, following a boxing match.Jan 19
Scottish National Orchestra accompanies the first production of Scottish Opera, conducted by Alexander Gibson.
- 1964Jan 19
American composer Aaron Copland conducts a programme that includes his Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo.
- 1967Jan 19
First European Tour
Alexander Gibson takes the SNO on its first European tour, beginning in Vienna’s Musikverein, with two very famous British soloists: cellist Jacqueline du Pré and mezzo-soprano Janet Baker.Jan 19
Alexander Gibson CBE
Principal Conductor Alexander Gibson receives a CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – in Her Majesty The Queen's 1967 New Year Honours List, announced on 30 December 1966.
- 1968Jan 19
City Halls, Glasgow
Scottish National Orchestra gives its first concert in its new home, Glasgow’s City Halls.
- 1975Jan 19
USA and Canada Tour
The Scottish National Orchestra makes its first tour of the USA and Canada.
- 1977Jan 01
Her Majesty The Queen becomes patronJan 19
Sir Alexander Gibson CBE
Principal Conductor Alexander Gibson CBE receives a Knighthood for services to music in Scotland in Her Majesty The Queen's 1977 Silver Jubilee and Birthday Honours list, announced on 11 June 1977.
- 1978Jan 19
RSNO Junior Chorus
The RSNO Junior Chorus is formed by Jean Kidd.
- 1979Jan 19
Henry Wood Hall
The Scottish National Orchestra moves into the Henry Wood Hall – formerly Trinity Church – on Claremont Street as its new rehearsal space.
- 1984Jan 19
Neeme Järvi becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1985Jan 19
Peter and the Wolf
Lina Llubera, Prokofiev’s widow, narrates Peter and the Wolf for the Chandos Records recording, conducted by Neeme Järvi.Jan 20
Gramophone Award – Orchestral
The Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Neeme Järvi, wins a Gramophone Award in the Orchestral category for its recording of Prokofiev's Symphony No6 and Three Waltzes on the Chandos Records label.
- 1987Jan 19
The Scottish National Orchestra tours Japan.
- 1988Jan 19
Bryden Thomson becomes Principal Conductor.
- 1990Jan 19
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Opening of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The SNO gives its first concert there in October 1990, in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal.Jan 19
The Scottish National Orchestra performs with Luciano Pavarotti at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
- 1991Jan 19
Walter Weller becomes Principal Conductor.Jan 19
SNO > RSNO > RSO > RSNO
Orchestra confirms its royal patronage with a name change to Royal Scottish National Orchestra. However, this was subsequently (and briefly!) shortened to Royal Scottish Orchestra, and then finally renamed Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 1992.
- 1994Jan 19
Christopher Bell becomes Chorus Director of the RSNO Junior Chorus, and membership expands to almost 300.
- 1996Jan 19
Film Soundtracks with Elmer Bernstein
Orchestra records the score for To Kill a Mockingbird under the baton of the composer himself, Elmer Bernstein. This is later followed by recordings of The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape.
- 1997Jan 19
Alexander Lazarev becomes Principal Conductor.Jan 19
Gramophone Award – Film Music
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Joel McNeely, wins the first ever Gramophone Award in the film music category for its recording of Bernard Herrmann's original motion picture score of Vertigo on the Varèse Sarabande label.
- 2001Jan 19
Royal Philharmonic Society Award
The RSNO wins the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Rumble in the Jungle, an education project for under-fives.
- 2004Oct 09
Opening the new Scottish Parliament
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra performs at the opening of Holyrood, the new Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.
- 2005Jan 19
Stéphane Denève becomes Music Director.
- 2007Jan 19
A National Performing Company
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra becomes one of Scotland’s five national performing companies, supported directly by the Scottish Government.
- 2012Jan 19
Diapason d’Or de l’année
The RSNO conducted by Stéphane Denève win the prestigious Diapason d’Or de l’année for their disc of Debussy orchestral works.Jan 19
Peter Oundjian becomes Music Director.Jan 19
Thomas Søndergård becomes Principal Guest Conductor.Jan 19
The RSNO produces Astar – a CD featuring Scottish songs, nursery rhymes and classical works, which was given to every child born in Scotland between October 2012 and October 2013.Dec 27
On 27 December 2012, the RSNO departed for a Hogmanay tour of China with Music Director Peter Oundjian, returning to Scotland on 7 January 2013.
- 2015Jan 19
The new RSNO Centre
The musicians and administrative staff of the RSNO move into the RSNO Centre at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – a purpose-built new home right in the centre of Glasgow, Scotland’s UNESCO City of Music. At the heart of the building is Glasgow’s newest performance space: an acoustically adjustable, 600-seat auditorium that provides world-class rehearsal and recording facilities for the Orchestra. The RSNO Centre also houses a dedicated education space, the Robertson Learning and Engagement Centre.