Listening Week 1: BSO Music Directors

BSO at home: Listening Week 1
BSO Music Directors

Great Performances from the BSO Archives, selected by BSO Artistic Administrator Anthony Fogg.

Over the next six weeks, you’ll have a chance to hear some great performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, drawn from the amazing archive of recordings of concerts given in Symphony Hall and at the orchestra’s summer home, Tanglewood. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to continue sharing music with you during these unprecedented times.

BSO at Home | Listening Home | Week 1 | Support the Music - Donate Now

Listening Week 1 Playlist Preview Week 2

For continuous playback of each day's music at the highest fidelity, choose the SoundCloud player. For the ability to listen to individual movements separately, choose the "Listen" button on each day's section. 

The BSO sincerely thanks our generous donors whose gifts supported concerts, guest artist appearances, and pieces for performances that were scheduled to take place this week:
Thursday, March 26: The Edmundson Family Concert Honoring Thomas Adès as BSO Artistic Partner
Friday, March 27: Friday afternoon's performance by the vocal soloists is supported by a gift in memory of Hamilton Osgood
Saturday, March 28: The John F. Bok Memorial Concert
     Saturday evening's performance of Thomas Ades’ Lieux retrouves, for cello and orchestra, is supported by a gift from Barbara and Robert Glauber

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For this first week’s offering, I’ve chosen works conducted by seven of the BSO’s 15 Music Directors, and repertoire with which each is particularly associated. The oldest recording is a performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony, conducted by Serge Koussevitzky (the BSO’s Music Director, 1925-49) at Tanglewood in 1938 - the first time the work was played at the festival - and the most recent is a thrilling performance of the Sibelius 2nd, led by our current Music Director, Andris Nelsons, in his inaugural season.

Included also in this week’s series of downloads is a performance of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, one of the many works commissioned and premiered by the BSO, and one of the seminal pieces of the early 20th century. Seiji Ozawa, who served as BSO Music Director from 1974 until 2002 – the longest tenure of any conductor – excelled particularly in music of this period. And he’s joined by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which next month celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first concert.

In other offerings, you’ll have a chance to hear great performances of French repertoire by Charles Munch, more Beethoven with William Steinberg, and a rousing version of the suite from Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier given by Pierre Monteux. Finally, the great American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne joins Erich Leinsdorf in a 1967 performance from Tanglewood of excerpts from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.

Here’s a link which gives a complete list of the BSO’s Music Directors since 1881: BSO Music Directors

Anthony Fogg

Andris Nelsons

March 23

SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2
     1. Allegretto
     2. Tempo Andante, ma rubate
     3. Vivacissimo
     4. Finale
Andris Nelsons, conductor
(Symphony Hall, November 8, 2014)


Continuous Play:

Seiji Ozawa, 1987

March 24

STRAVINSKY Symphony of Psalms
     1. q = 92 (Psalm 38, verses 13 and 14)
     2. e = 60 (Psalm 39, verses 2, 3, and 4)
     3. q = 48 -- h = 80 (Psalm 150)
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor
(Symphony Hall, December 5, 1987)


Continuous Play:


Charles Munch conducting, 1958

March 25

ROUSSEL Suite in F
     1. Prelude
     2. Sarabande
     3. Gigue
Charles Munch, conductor
(Symphony Hall, March 8, 1958) 


Continuous Play:

William Steinberg conducting

March 26

BEETHOVEN Three Overtures:
   Leonore No. 3
   King Stephen
William Steinberg, conductor
(Tanglewood, July and August 1970)


Continuous Play:

Pierre Monteux conducting, 1955March 27

STRAUSS Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
Pierre Monteux, conductor
(Symphony Hall, February 17, 1956)



Listen on SoundCloud:

Serge Koussevitzky conducting, 1938March 28

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9
     1. Allegro ma non troppo un poco maestoso
     2. Scherzo Molto vivace Presto
     3. Adagio molto e cantabile
     4. Finale
Serge Koussevitzky, conductor
Jeannette Vreeland, soprano
Anna Kaskas, contralto
Paul Althouse, tenor
Norman Cordon, bass-baritone
Cecilia Society Chorus
(Tanglewood, August 4, 1938)


Continous Play:

Erich Leinsdorf conducting, 1965March 29

WAGNER Excerpts from Götterdämmerung
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
(Tanglewood, August 20, 1967)


Listen on SoundCloud:

BSO at Home | Listening Home | Week 1 | Support the Music - Donate Now


Archival images courtesy BSO Archives