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Profile of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo

NHK交響楽団 演奏中の画像

The NHK Symphony Orchestra was established on October 5, 1926 under the name the New Symphony Orchestra, and laid its foundation as Japan's leading orchestra under the direction of Joseph Rosenstock who was invited from Germany shortly after that. Its subscription concerts, the mainstay of its performances, began on February 20th, 1927, and they have continued to date without any interruption even during the Second World War. In 1951, it came under the financial support of Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and was renamed the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Since then, it has continuously invited world-renowned conductors, such as Jean Martinon, Herbert von Karajan, Ernest Ansermet, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Lovro von Matačić, Joseph Keilberth, Pierre Boulez, Otmar Suitner, Horst Stein, André Previn, and Lorin Maazel, and the world's most sought-after soloists to produce outstanding performances which have gone down in history. The orchestra marks its 100th anniversary in 2026.
Currently it presents about 120 concerts annually across Japan, including 54 subscription concerts, which are broadcast nationwide by NHK television and FM radio and some of which are globally introduced through international broadcast services and the orchestra's official YouTube channel.
Ever since its first around-the-world concert tour (visiting 24 cities in 12 countries) in 1960, the orchestra has put emphasis on performing overseas. In recent years, it appeared at the Salzburg Festival in 2013, and had a concert tour visiting 9 musical capitals in Europe including Berlin and Vienna in the spring of 2020, thus establishing a remarkable presence on world's renowned stages. The orchestra is scheduled to have a concert tour in Taiwan in August 2024, and a European tour in May 2025 in conjunction with an invitation to the Mahler Festival (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam).
Contributing to society is also one of the orchestra's essential activities, thus it has been engaged in a variety of projects such as a school-visiting program called NHK Music Club for Children, the N-Kyo Hotto Concert designed for the whole family to enjoy, chamber music concerts to give peace of mind to and cheer up people in disaster-stricken areas and hospitals, and the NHKSO Academy to foster next generation musicians.
Conductors who are closely associated with the NHK Symphony Orchestra include Fabio Luisi (Chief Conductor), Charles Dutoit (Music Director Emeritus), Herbert Blomstedt (Honorary Conductor Laureate), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Conductor Laureate), Paavo Järvi (Honorary Conductor), Tadaaki Otaka (Permanent Conductor), and Tatsuya Shimono (Permanent Conductor).