Founded in 1922 by a group of Toronto musician and Vienese-born conductor Luigi von Kunits, The New Symphony Orchestra, as it was then called, gave its first performance in April 1923 at Massey Hall. The name Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) was adopted four years later.
The Orchestra’s second season in 1924/1925 included the first orchestra concert for children, pioneering a focus on efforts towards programming for young people. Today, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra serves the community with one of the largest educational programmes in Canada, connecting students throughout Ontario with curriculum-based outreach, including the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) and the TSOUNDCHECK.
The TSYO has been dedicated to providing a high-level orchestral experience for talented young musicians aged 22 and under. Musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra serve as coaches throughout the season and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Guest Artists lead master-classes for the TSYO members. Some of the most recent master-classes have been led by such world-renowned guest artists and conductors such as Alison Balsom, Alisa Wilerstein, James Ehnes, Pinchas Zukerman, Pekka Kuusisto, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis and many others. In addition the youth orchestra performs annually with the TSO, providing the young musicians with valuable performance skills.
With it’s TSOUNDCHECK program, The TSO provides special ticketing prices in premium seating making classical music accessible to Millennials between 15 to 35 years of age.
The TSO developed its international presence through a history of touring to venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including a ground-breaking trip to China in 1978 as the first Canadian orchestra to be invited to enter China after the Cultural Revolution.
Throughout its history, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has welcomed some of the greatest international artists, including James Ehnes, Maxim Vengerov, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Jessye Norman, Karen Kain, Yefim Bronfman, Angela Hewitt, Lang Lang (in his first week-long residency program in North America), and actor Christopher Plummer. Renowned composers Henri Dutilleux, R. Murray Schafer, Aaron Copland, Phillip Glass, John Adams, and Tan Dun, among many others, have been in attendance for the Orchestra’s presentations of their music.
TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA MUSIC DIRECTORS LISTING
Luigi von Kunits (1923-1931)
Sir Ernest MacMillan (1931-1956)
Walter Susskind (1957-1964)
Seiji Ozawa (1965-1969)
Karel Ančerl (1969-1972)
Victor Feldbrill Resident Conductor (1973-1975)
Sir Andrew Davis (1975-1988), Conductor Laureate (1988 – present)
Gunther Herbig (1989-1994)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1994-2001)
Peter Oundjian (2004 to the present)