Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Infobox musical artist
Name = Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Background = classical_ensemble
Alias = PSO

Img_capt = Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performing at Hartwood Acres in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 8, 2007.
Years_active = 1926–Present
Origin = Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Genre = Classical
Occupation = Symphony orchestra
URL = [http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/ Official website]
Current_members = Music Director
Manfred Honeck
Principal Guest Conductor
Leonard Slatkin
Principal Pops Conductor
Marvin Hamlisch
Resident Conductor
Daniel Meyer
Resident Conductor
Lawrence Loh

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is an American symphony orchestra, based at Heinz Hall in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


The orchestra was founded by the Pittsburgh Arts Society with conductor Frederic Archer in 1895, who brought with him a number of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and led the PSO in its first concert the following year.

Archer left in 1898 and was replaced by Victor Herbert, who took the orchestra on several tours and greatly increased the orchestra's presence. Herbert was replaced by Emil Paur in 1904. The orchestra attracted a number of prominent guest conductors during these early years, including Edward Elgar and Richard Strauss, but was dissolved in 1910 because of financial difficulties.


It was 1926 before the orchestra was resurrected, with its members rehearsing for no fee, and each contributing money to make a new season the following year possible. The orchestra's leader, Elias Breeskin, was also its conductor for the first few years. In 1930, Antonio Modarelli was brought in as conductor. In 1937, Otto Klemperer was brought in to reorganise the orchestra, quickly raising the orchestra to an international level.

Since then, the orchestra has experienced ongoing growth and development, including building a substantial endowment fund. Fritz Reiner (1938-48) led the orchestra as Music Director for a decade, imposing his precise technical demands while also triggering substantial turnover in personnel exacerbated by the World War II military draft. He also made a number of important recordings of a wide range of repertory, including music by Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Bela Bartók. From 1948-52, a series of guest conductors led the orchestra, including Leonard Bernstein and Leopold Stokowski.

William Steinberg (1952-76) then became the orchestra's Music Director, taking them on a tour of Europe and recording a great deal of repertory. André Previn (1976-84) succeeded Steinberg and brought the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to a national audience with a PBS television series, "Previn and the Pittsburgh". Lorin Maazel, a Pittsburgh native, served as Music consultant to the orchestra from 1984-1988, and served as the PSO Music Director from 1988-1996. He took the orchestra on several international tours. Since 1995, Marvin Hamlisch has served as principal pops conductor. Mariss Jansons succeeded Maazel as the PSO's Music Director from 1997-2004, and maintained the high artistic reputation of the orchestra. [cite news | url=http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04137/315957.stm | title=Fanfare for an uncommon man | work=Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | author=Andrew Druckenbrod | date=16 May 2004 | accessdate=2007-04-27]

PSO today

Since 2005, this PSO has formally been lacking a single music director. During this current period, a new collective bargaining agreement was in effect, which gave the musicians increased authority over matters of running the orchestra such as the hiring of musicians and choice of repertoire. Starting in 2005, Sir Andrew Davis has served as the PSO artistic advisor, with Yan Pascal Tortelier as principal guest conductor and Marek Janowski holding the "endowed guest conductor chair". Davis was originally scheduled to step down after the 2007-2008 season, but in October 2007, Davis and the PSO mutually agreed to terminate his contract early and for him not to conduct his scheduled concerts in the 2007-2008 season, because of increased demands on Davis' schedule. [cite news | url=http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07300/828842-42.stm | title=Davis backs out of PSO concerts | work=Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | author=Andrew Druckenbrod | date=27 October 2007 | accessdate=2007-10-27] . The contracts of Tortelier and Janowski also expire in 2008. [cite news | url=http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_490039.html | title=Director will bring 'fire' to PSO | work=Pittsburgh Tribune-Review |author=Mark Kanny | date=24 Jan 2007 | accessdate=2007-04-27]

In a change of conductor leadership format, returning to the traditional music director hierarchy, the PSO announced on 24 January 2007 that with the 2008-2009 season, the Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck would become the PSO's ninth music director. [cite news | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/arts/24hone.html?ex=1327294800&en=63c573b6727e887e&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss | title=In Pittsburgh, a Music Director to Replace Three Conductors | work=The New York Times | author=Daniel J. Wakin | date=24 Jan 2007 | accessdate=2007-04-27] [cite press release | url=http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/honeckpr.pdf | title=Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Announces New Music Director Manfred Honeck | publisher=Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra | format=.PDF | date=24 Jan 2007 | accessdate=2007-04-27] After the announcement, Honeck said: "It is with great joy that I assume the post of music director of one of the world's finest orchestras." Honeck first conducted the symphony in May 2006, and returned for another guest appearance in November 2006. His initial contract is for three years. In June 2007, the orchestra announced that American conductor Leonard Slatkin would become the orchestra's principal guest conductor beginning in the 2008-2009 season. [cite news | url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/14/AR2007061402486.html | title=Slatkin Also To Conduct In Pittsburgh | work=Washington Post | author=Tim Page | date=15 June 2007 | accessdate=2007-07-18]

After playing concerts in its earliest form at Carnegie Music Hall, the orchestra moved to the Syria Mosque, where many of their recordings were done. The Mosque proved to be an unsuitable venue for the orchestra, as it held far more seats than could reasonably be filled for orchestral concerts, and it was also acoustically unsatisfactory. In 1971 the orchestra moved to the newly-renovated Loew's Penn Theater, a move funded by H. J. Heinz II of the H. J. Heinz Company. To honor his involvement, the building was renamed Heinz Hall.

In 2004, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Gilbert Levine became the first American orchestra to play for the Pope. [cite news | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3255607.stm | title=Orchestra to make Vatican history | publisher=BBC News | date=9 Nov 2003 | accessdate=2007-04-27] Their performance included the world premiere of John Harbison's "Abraham" as well as movements I, IV, and V from the Mahler "Symphony No. 2", and Pope John Paul II personally requested an encore at the performance. [cite news
url = http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/20031108pope1108p1.asp
title = Pittsburgh Symphony to perform for pope
work = Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
author = Andrew Druckenbrod
date = 8 Nov 2003
accessdate = 2007-04-27
] [cite web | url=http://www.papal-concert-of-reconciliation.com/h_html_en/index.html | title=Papal Concert of Reconciliation 2004 | date=Jan 2004 | accessdate=2007-04-27]

The PSO has been facing financial concerns related to historical declines in ticket sales and increased expenses. [cite news
url = http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06293/731481-42.stm
title = Pittsburgh symphony upbeat despite $1 million deficit
work = Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
author = Timothy McNulty
date = 20 Oct 2006
accessdate = 2007-04-27
] In November 2006, the PSO announced a pledge of US$29.5 million from the Richard P. Simmons family as the start of a capital challenge for the orchestra to address long-standing financial concerns. [cite news
url = http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07014/753720-42.stm
title = Dick Simmons: A 'passion' for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
work = Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
author = Timothy McNulty
date = 14 Jan 2007
accessdate = 2007-04-27
] In December 2006, the PSO announced the launch of an $80 million capital fund-raising drive, after the initial $29.5 million boost from the Simmons family. [cite news
url = http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06335/742583-42.stm
title = PSO outlines goals at start of $80 million fund drive
work = Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
author = Timothy McNulty
date = 1 Dec 2006
accessdate = 2007-04-27
] In early 2008, the PSO embarked on a European tour to commerate the 250th anniversary of Pittsburgh's founding and stops were made in Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia.

Music directors


External links

* [http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/ Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra official website]

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