RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Our Story

From its foundation in 1948 as the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra has been at the forefront of symphonic music in Ireland providing an unbroken stream of concerts. Since that time, the orchestra has firmly established itself as a primary force in Irish musical life. World-class conductors associated with the orchestra’s early days include Jean Martinon, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Edmond Appia, Milan Horvat and Sir John Barbirolli. The first half of the 1960s saw Tibor Paul as Principal Conductor, a tenure memorable for the visit of Igor Stravinsky.

The list of guest artists and composers with whom the orchestra has worked is long and distinguished and features legendary names such as Josef Szigeti, Isaac Stern, Henryk Szering, Ruggiero Ricci, Wilhelm Kempff, Julius Katchen, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Martha Argerich, Radu Lupu, Joan Sutherland, Bernadette Greevy, Angela Gheorghiu, Kiri te Kanawa, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Mstislav Rostropovich, Paul Tortelier, Barry Douglas, Sir James Galway, Constantin Silvestri, Charles Dutoit, Sir Charles Groves, Witold Lutosławski, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt.

Today, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra plays a central role in classical music in Ireland through year-long programmes of live performances, schools and educational projects, broadcasts on RTÉ lyric fm and internationally through the European Broadcasting Union, recordings and new commissions.

World premieres of works by Irish composers have included music by Elaine Agnew, Gerald Barry, Ed Bennett, Linda Buckley, Ann Cleare, Siobhán Cleary, Frank Corcoran, Jerome de Bromhead, Raymond Deane, Donnacha Dennehy, David Fennessy, Deirdre Gribbin, Ronan Guilfoyle, Andrew Hamilton, Gráinne Mulvey, Kevin O’Connell, Karen Power, Jennifer Walshe and Bill Whelan. As part of RTÉ 1916, the orchestra premiered One Hundred Years a Nation by Shaun Davey with text by Paul Muldoon, in concert with a choir of 1000 voices at Collins Barracks, Dublin on Easter Sunday 2016. In addition, the orchestra featured in four concerts as part of Composing the Island: A century of music in Ireland 1916–2016. The orchestra performed repertoire by 16 Irish composers covering years from the 1920s through to composers of 2016.

Recent Irish premieres include Thomas Adès Totentanz,Detlev Glanert’s Insomnium Wolfgang Rihm’s  Verwandlung 4, Kaija Saariaho’s Circle Map, Huw Watkins’ Flute Concerto, Wave Movements by Bryce Dessner (The National) and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), and the European premiere of John Luther Adams’ Pulitzer Prize winning work, Become Ocean.

The orchestra has been critically acclaimed for its recordings across a variety of labels including Naxos, Claves as well as the RTÉ lyric fm label. Naxos releases include two critically acclaimed recordings of works by Bizet and Dukas with conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud. Recordings on the RTÉ lyric fm label include selected orchestral works by Aloys Fleischmann, Frederick May and Seán Ó Riada, Gerald Barry’s opera The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Finghin Collins: Mozart Piano Concertos and Celine Byrne: For Eternity.

In addition, the Composers of Ireland series, funded by RTÉ and The Arts Council, features works by Seóirse Bodley, Deirdre Gribbin, Ian Wilson, John Kinsella, Stephen Gardner, Kevin O’Connell, Donnacha Dennehy and Kevin Volans.

The orchestra recently announced Nathalie Stutzmann as Principal Guest Conductor Designate. Nathalie will hold this position from September 2017 to May 2019.

A superb group - so lucky to have @RTE_NSO in Ireland - Gavan Ring