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Classical 101

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra on Symphony @ 7

Hear musical sounds from the heart of Bavaria in Germany as we feature the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra for the rest of the week on Symphony @ 7.  This evening, current music director Jonathan Nott will lead the orchestra in Franz Schubert's youthful Symphony No. 2 in B flat. "Extraordinary city. Extraordinary orchestra," is how the ensemble likes to promote itself.  This large town of about 70,000 in Southern Germany was spared the allied bombings of World War Two, so much of its medieval architecture has remained intact, making it today a UNESCO World Heritage city.  Even with 40 concerts a season for their home town, it's not enough to sustain a world-class ensemble, so the Bamberg Symphony tours extensively. When the orchestra was formed there in 1946, it was made up largely of German musicians expelled from Czechoslovakia who had been members of the German Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague.  Consequently, they brought with them the unique sound of Central European orchestras, described as a "warm, richly emotional, full-blooded style of playing.... a Bohemian sound from its Czech DNA," according to a recent article. Today, the orchestra is also associated with the triennial Gustav Mahler Conducting Prize, established by its current music director in 2004.  The first winner was Gustavo Dudamel, long associated with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, and now the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Previous conductors of the Bamberg Symphony have included Joseph Keilberth, Eugen Jochum, James Loughran, and Horst Stein.  Jonathan Nott, who has been music director since 2000, has had his contract extended to 2016. For the rest of the week, we'll hear this fine orchestra in recordings of Glazunov, Mozart, Schumann, and more on Symphony @ 7 here on Classical 101. Last year, they performed Mahler's Fifth Symphony at the BBC Proms in London as seen in the video above.