Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

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The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (in German: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig or just Gewandhausorchester) is a famous German orchestra based in Leipzig, Germany. It is named after the concert hall in which it is based, the Gewandhaus (pronounce: “Ge-VUNT-house”). The word “Gewandhaus” means "Textiles Hall". It is a hall that originally was used for people to buy and sell textiles.

History of the orchestra[change | change source]

The beginnings of the orchestra go back to 1743, when a society called the Grosses Concert began performing in private homes. In 1744 the Grosses Concert moved its concerts to the "Three Swans" Tavern. Their concerts continued there for 36 years. Gradually more and more people started to complain about the noise and the behaviour in the tavern, so in 1780 the mayor and city council of Leipzig offered to let the orchestra use part of the Gewandhaus, the building where the merchants were selling textiles. The orchestra gave its first concert in the Gewandhaus in 1781. It is the oldest orchestra in Germany, apart from private orchestras who belonged to rich people.

In 1835 the great composer Felix Mendelssohn became the orchestra's main conductor (music director). He was called the Gewandhauskapellmeister. He kept this position, apart from one year, until his death in 1847. In 1885, the orchestra moved into a new hall which was given the same name. This was destroyed by bombing in World War II in 1944. The present Gewandhaus is the third building with the name. It was opened in 1981.

The orchestra gives concerts in Leipzig and all over the world, and makes many recordings. They also play at the Thomaskirche, the church where Johann Sebastian Bach used to work, and as the official opera orchestra of the Leipzig Opera.

Later principal conductors included Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, and Václav Neumann. From 1970 to 1996, Kurt Masur was Gewandhauskapellmeister. From 1998 to 2005 their conductor was Herbert Blomstedt.

In 2005, Riccardo Chailly took over as both Gewandhauskapellmeister and music director of the Leipzig Opera. They have released recordings on the Decca label of Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and the Robert Schumann symphonies in the re-orchestrations by Gustav Mahler.

Music director (Gewandhauskapellmeister)[change | change source]

Conductors laureate[change | change source]

  • 1996-present Kurt Masur
  • 2005-present Herbert Blomstedt

Other websites[change | change source]