The London Symphony Orchestra started in 1904. It was the first British orchestra to play outside England in 1906. That concert happened in Paris. Six years later the orchestra was poised to play in New York and sort to travel there with the RMS Titanic. Luckily, the orchestra rebooked their journey at the last minute. Probably sparing most or all of their lives. They were however the first British orchestra to tour the USA in that same year. The orchestra later visited Japan in 1963 and South Africa in 1956.
Their first gramophone recording was in 1920. It has made many records since. Today it has more recordings to its name than any other orchestra in the world. The orchestra also had its own television series. In the 1990s alone the orchestra recorded over 100 albums. In 1914, ten years after its inception, the war broke out. At the time the orchestra had been prospering well. As the bleak moment in the worlds era began over thirty members of the Orchestra served in the Forces during World War I.
The orchestra boast some of the best conductors over the past century: Hans Richter (1904–1911), Sir Edward Elgar (1911–1912), Artur Nikisch (1912–1914), Sir Thomas Beecham (1915–1917), Albert Coates (1919–1922), Willem Mengelberg (1930–1931), Sir Hamilton Harty (1932–1935), Josef Krips (1951–1954), Pierre Monteux (1961–1964), André Previn (1968–1979), Claudio Abbado (1979–1987), Michael Tilson Thomas (1987–1995), and Sir Colin Davis (1995–present).
In 1975 the LSO Trust, together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, restored Holy Trinity Church in Southwark, turning it into a rehearsal and recording hall. Some years later the LSO raised the funds, with assistance from UBS, to convert the abandoned church, St Luke’s in Old Street, into their community and education centre.
The orchestra brought in many new fans after they performed the score for Star Wars (1977) and its sequels composed by John Williams.
The biggest audience that the Orchestra has performed to was in 2012 when it appeared in a sketch with Rowan Atkinson at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The global audience was estimated at 900 million.
Header photo by Ranald Mackechnie.