National Symphony Orchestra (United States)

National Symphony Orchestra (United States)

Infobox musical artist
Name = National Symphony Orchestra

Img_capt = Kennedy Center Hall of Nations
Background = classical_ensemble
Years_active = 1931-"present"
Alias = NSO
Origin = flagicon|USA Washington DC, United States
Genre = Classical
Occupation = Symphony orchestra
Associated_acts =
URL = [ Official website]
Current_members = Principal Conductor
Iván Fischer
Pops Conductor
Marvin Hamlisch
Associate Conductor
Emil de Cou
Past_members = Founder
Hans Kindler
Notable_instruments =

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), founded in 1931, is an American symphony orchestra that performs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.


For the first period of its history, the orchestra performed in Constitution Hall. During the tenure of the first music director, Hans Kindler, the musicians received a salary of US$40.00 per week, for three rehearsals and one concert, for five months of the year. [cite news
url =
title = The NSO: 75 and Counting Its Blessings
publisher = Washington Post
author = Tim Page
date = 4 Sep 2005
accessdate = 2007-03-18

Kindler and the orchestra made several 78-rpm recordings for RCA Victor, including the two Roumanian Rhapsodies by Georges Enesco. One of the more unusual RCA recordings with the orchestra was of the complete ballet music from the opera "King Henry VIII" by Camille Saint-Saens, one of the very few recordings conducted by Walter Damrosch. Years later, Howard Mitchell made a series of stereophonic recordings with the orchestra for RCA. Antal Doráti recorded with the orchestra for Decca Records. Mstislav Rostropovich made recordings for Teldec, Sony Records, and Erato. The orchestra returned to RCA Victor under Leonard Slatkin, until RCA abandoned new classical recordings.

In 1986, the National Symphony became the artistic affiliate of the Kennedy Center, the national center for the performing arts, where it has presented a concert season annually since the Center opened in 1971.


The National Symphony Orchestra regularly participates in events of national and international importance, including performances for ceremonial state affairs, presidential inaugurations and official holiday celebrations.

The Orchestra itself numbers 100 musicians, presenting a 52-week season of approximately 175 concerts each year. These include classical subscription series, pops concerts, and one of the country’s most extensive educational programs. In addition to these activities, small groups of NSO members develop education programs designed at age levels from pre-kindergarten through high school. Collectively these ensembles present as many as 100 additional performances a year during the American Residencies and at the Kennedy Center.

The National Symphony Orchestra has a strong commitment to the development of America’s artistic resources. Through the John and June Hechinger Commissioning Fund for New Orchestral Works, the NSO has commissioned more than 50 works, including cycles of fanfares and encores. To nurture new generations of conductors, Slatkin founded the National Conducting Institute in 2000. Also of note is the Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute. For more than a decade, scholarships provided by the National Trustees of the National Symphony Orchestra have enabled high school students from throughout the country to come to the nation’s capital for several weeks of study with NSO musicians.

Another important project is the National Symphony Orchestra American Residencies for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This venture encompasses sharing all elements of classical symphonic music with a specific region of the United States, exploring the diversity of musical influences, and giving the region a musical voice in the nation’s center for the performing arts through exchanges, training programs, and commissions. Established in 1992, the project has taken the NSO to nearly of fifteen states.

In November 2004, the orchestra announced that Slatkin would conclude his tenure as the orchestra's music director in 2008. One report spoke of tensions between the conductor and the orchestra, and mentioned criticisms of Slatkin's programming and rehearsal styles. [cite news
url =
title = Slatkin, NSO to Part in 2008
publisher = Washington Post
author = Tim Page
date = 18 Nov 2004
accessdate = 2007-03-18
] No successor has been named as of March 2007. [cite news
url =
title = A Leading Question For the NSO
publisher = Washington Post
author = Tim Page
date = 16 Apr 2006
accessdate = 2007-03-18

With the 2006-2007 season, Iván Fischer became the principal guest conductor of the orchestra. [cite news
url =
title = Q&A: Iván Fischer
publisher = Playbill Arts
author =
date = 19 October 2006
accessdate = 2007-03-18
] [cite news
url =
title = Ivan Fischer: Plays Well With Children
publisher = Washington Post
author = Tim Page
date = 12 Feb 2007
accessdate = 2007-03-18
] The current concertmaster/leader of the orchestra is Nurit Bar-Josef. On 13 April 2007, the orchestra announced the appointment of Fischer as the orchestra's principal conductor as of the 2008-2009 season, for 2 seasons. [cite news | url= | title=NSO Picks Fischer as Interim Maestro | publisher=Washington Post | author=Tim Page | date=12 Apr 2007 | accessdate=2007-04-13] This interim position is for two years. [cite news | url= | title=Iván Fischer Appointed Principal Conductor of DC's National Symphony Orchestra | publisher=Playbill Arts | date=12 Apr 2007 | accessdate=2007-04-14] On September 25, 2008, the orchestra announced the appointment of Christoph Eschenbach as the orchestra's sixth music director, effective with the 2010-11 season, for an initial contract of 4 years. [cite news | url= | title=Christoph Eschenbach to Lead National Symphony | work=Washington Post| author=Anne Midgette | date=2008-09-25 | accessdate=2008-09-25]

Music directors

* Hans Kindler (1931-1949)
* Howard Mitchell (1949-1969)
* Antal Doráti (1970-1977)
* Mstislav Rostropovich (1977-1994)
* Leonard Slatkin (1996-2008)
* Iván Fischer (principal conductor; 2008-present)


External links

*National Symphony Orchestra [ Official site]
*National Symphony Orchestra [ History ]
* [ National Symphony Orchestra Profile] at the Washington Post
* [ Major American Orchestra Conductor]

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