The Badische Staatskapelle (= BSK), the concert and opera orchestra of Karlsruhe's State Theatre, boasts a long rich history. The first official mention of the orchestra of the Baden-Durlach court dates back to 1662.
Famous composers have been directors: Franz Liszt, who directed L.v. Beethoven's 9th Symphony in 1853 and, ten years later, Richard Wagner, who directed two concerts of his own creation. The world premiere of Johannes Brahms' First Symphony in 1876 marked an historical moment for the orchestra. Between 1880 to 1904, under the musical direction of Felix Mottl, the theatre was nicknamed "small Bayreuth". In 1913 Richard Strauss directed his orchestral works and compositions at the theatre, marking the first "Richard-Strauss week". In the 1920s Hans Pfitzner was invited to direct the orchestra on numerous occasions.
The Badische Staatskapelle, which received this title in 1933, made a name for itself after World War II for the production of a great number of discs and CD's, with compositions (amongst others) by Rihm, Alban Berg and Schreker. The orchestra is also renowned for the first recording of Brahms' First Symphony, as well as the complete recording of Wagners Der Ring des Nibelungen, under the direction of Günter Neuhold.
Famous composers have been invited to direct the orchestra, including Werner Egk, Wolfgang Fortner and Michael Tippett. In 1975 the orchestra inaugurated its new theatre with L.v. Beethoven's 9th Symphony. In 1978 the Händel-Festspiele (of international repute) was founded, and five years later the Europäische Kulturtage festival was born, adding to the Badische Staatskapelle's solid standing. After the famous directors Arthur Grüber and Christoph Prick, between 1996 to 2002 it was Kazushi Ono's turn. In 2003, Anthony Bramall, who succeeded Kazushi Ono as Musical Director, was named "best orchestra director of the season" by the Opernwelt review.