The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (= DSOB) has played under its present name since 1993. However, its musical tradition dates back more than fifty years.
It was founded in 1946, as the ‘RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester’, by the radio station of the American sector of Berlin. Ferenc Fricsay was the first principal conductor. He set high standards to follow in both the mainstream repertoire and the music of the twentieth century; his music-making was distinguished by transparency of interpretation, clarity of structure and vividness.
After Fricsay’s sadly premature death it was the young Lorin Maazel who took over artistic responsibility for the orchestra, which he had already got to know during a number of engagements as guest conductor. His departure for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was followed by a long interregnum, until in 1982 Riccardo Chailly, then only twenty-nine years old, was appointed the third principal conductor. Riccardo Chailly’s successor in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, was Vladimir Ashkenazy, who remained the orchestra’s fourth principal conductor until 1999.
The 2000-2001 season saw the arrival of Kent Nagano as principal conductor and artistic director. He had already conducted several concerts with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in the previous season, including a tour of Japan in October 1999 which the Japanese music critics’ association voted the best international guest performances in that country for 1999. Their first CD together was released in 2000: Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.3, which was awarded the Toblacher Komponierhäuschen international record prize. In December 2000 Kent Nagano and his orchestra scored an immense success at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with the premiere of El Niño by John Adams. The orchestra and its principal conductor achieved further acclaim in Los Angeles in December 2001 with Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron. But it is above all in Berlin that a high level of critical and public recognition and esteem has marked this unique collaboration.