The Story of Scotland’s National Orchestra
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.
First overseas tour
Scottish Orchestra’s first overseas tour: a two-week trip to the Netherlands, under Principal Conductor Willem Kes.
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 image
Richard Strauss conducts the Orchestra in a programme including his Don Juan and Death and Transfiguration.
Pianist Artur Rubinstein visits to perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
First World War – Concerts Abandoned
Concerts by the Scottish Orchestra were abandoned between 1916 and 1918, due to the First World War.
The Great Depression
Orchestra faces financial troubles during the Depression, but subscribers and guarantors put in healthy funds that guaranteed the Orchestra’s future.
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.
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.
The first Edinburgh International Festival
The Scottish Orchestra performs under Principal Conductor Walter Susskind at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival.
The Scottish National Orchestra – a full-time band
Orchestra renamed Scottish National Orchestra, and becomes a permanent, full-time ensemble.
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.
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.
Scottish National Orchestra accompanies the first production of Scottish Opera, conducted by Alexander Gibson.
American composer Aaron Copland conducts a programme that includes his Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo.
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.
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.
City Halls, Glasgow
Scottish National Orchestra gives its first concert in its new home, Glasgow’s City Halls.
USA and Canada Tour
The Scottish National Orchestra makes its first tour of the USA and Canada.
Her Majesty The Queen becomes patron
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.
RSNO Junior Chorus
The RSNO Junior Chorus is formed by Jean Kidd.
Henry Wood Hall
The Scottish National Orchestra moves into the Henry Wood Hall – formerly Trinity Church – on Claremont Street as its new rehearsal space.
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.
The Scottish National Orchestra tours Japan.
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.
The Scottish National Orchestra performs with Luciano Pavarotti at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
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.
Christopher Bell becomes Chorus Director of the RSNO Junior Chorus, and membership expands to almost 300.
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.
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.
Royal Philharmonic Society Award
The RSNO wins the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Rumble in the Jungle, an education project for under-fives.
A National Performing Company
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra becomes one of Scotland’s five national performing companies, supported directly by the Scottish Government.
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.
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.
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.