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A history of symphonies Famous Swiss orchestra marks 100 years

As western Switzerland's symphony orchestra (the "Orchestre de la Suisse Romande") turns 100, a look back at its long legacy.

OSR was once internationally famous thanks to the work and connections of its founder, Ernest Ansermet. This video from Swiss Public Television, RTS, tells the story of the great director and his successors. 

Ansermet founded the OSR to counterbalance the large symphony orchestras in Zurich, Basel and Bern. He remained music director for 49 years, from 1918 to 1967, and created a vast store of recordings with the record label Decca, that made the orchestra a household name worldwide. The OSR was famous for its interpretation of the 20th-century French and Russian repertories. Ansermet was a close associate of Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Debussy, and he conducted important premieres for Igor Stravinsky. 

Lady Gaga - why Nott?

These days the symphony orchestra is fighting to re-establish its international reputation. The OSR, made up of 112 permanent musicians, is based in Geneva at the Victoria Hall, but should have a new concert hall by 2023/24. A building project is underway. 

In addition to symphony concerts, the OSR performs as the opera orchestra in productions at the 'Grand Théâtre de Genève'. In January 2017, Jonathan Nott, who is English, became the new Music and Artistic Director. He was recently askedexternal link by a Swiss radio journalist which star he would like to bring to Geneva to perform with the OSR. Without hesitation, he replied, "Lady Gaga".

In December 2016, ahead of Nott's appointment, the orchestra was audited for the first time because of successive changes to its management since 2012. The verdict was that the level of its artistic performance was insufficient. Steve Emmenegger, who headed the inquiry, said it would be Nott's job to "put the OSR back to the level it should be at".

(RTS/swissinfo.ch)

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