We take a look back at the history of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.

In mid-19th century Zurich, calls for a permanent professional orchestra became increasingly insistent. After a few initial difficulties, the first orchestral association was established in 1862. After the Swiss Music Festival held in Zurich in 1867, interested parties succeeded in harnessing audiences’ enthusiasm to found a public limited company in 1868 with the aim of promoting musical life with a permanent orchestra: the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich, which continues to support the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich to this day and is organised as a public limited company.

Postcard showing the Tonhalle as it was in 1895
Postcard showing the Tonhalle as it was in 1895
Postcard showing the Tonhalle as it was in 1895
Postcard showing the Tonhalle as it was in 1895

Under its first conductor, Friedrich Hegar, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich finally became a professional orchestra. Hegar directed the Orchestra for almost four decades. His successor Volkmar Andreae also remained faithful to the Orchestra for more than 40 years.

In 1944, the 48 musicians of the Beromünster Radio Orchestra joined the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, which at the time was both a concert orchestra and a theatre/opera orchestra. In the early 1980s, there were 167 permanently employed musicians in the two ensembles. However, this was soon to change: in 1985, the Orchestra was separated and the Opera House Orchestra, today known as the Philharmonia Zurich, became an independent entity.

Conductors, artistic directors and musical personalities as well as social and economic circumstances have shaped the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and made it what we are today: an orchestra that plays with passion at the highest level.

After four seasons in the Tonhalle Maag in Zurich West, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich has been playing in the lavishly renovated Tonhalle Zurich again since 2021.

Chief Conductors

1868–1906 Friedrich Hegar
1906–1949 Volkmar Andreae
1949–1957 Erich Schmid
1957–1962 Hans Rosbaud
1965–1972 Rudolf Kempe, Charles Dutoit 2nd Conductor (1967–1971)
1975–1980 Gerd Albrecht
1982–1986 Christoph Eschenbach
1987–1991 Hiroshi Wakasugi
1991–1995 Claus Peter Flor (Permanent Guest Conductor)
1995–2014 David Zinman
2014–2018 Lionel Bringuier
ab 2019 /20 Paavo Järvi

Great Guest Conductors

Karl Böhm, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer, Jeroným Rafael Kubelík, Carl Schuricht, Bruno Walter, Sir George Solti, Andris Nelsons, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Franz Welser-Möst and others.

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