San Francisco Symphony Timeline

Unfinished History


Frederica von Stade mezzo-soprano

1911--First San Francisco Symphony season. Henry Hadley appointed Music Director

1915--Alfred Hertz from the New York Metropolitan Opera appointed Music Director

1926--Symphony begins recording for RCA Victor

1930--Basil Cameron and Issay Dobrowen appointed Music Directors

1935--Pierre Monteux appointed Music Director

1936--14-year old violin prodigy Isaac Stern makes his debut with the Symphony

1954--Enrique Jorda appointed Music Director

Enrique Jorda was the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony from 1954 to 1963. He made a point of presenting local composers, and made efforts to expand the audience for classical music, for instance by putting on shows in the city jail. He also worked to expand the limits of what was accepted as "classical" music, for instance by staging a concert with jazz pianist Dave Brubeck.

He was born in San Sebastian, Spain on March 24, 1911 and began to study music when he was five years old. He was studying in Paris when Franco came to power, and he refused to return to his native country until the Nazi occupation forced him to flee in 1940. He became the director of the Madrid symphony from 1940-45. After World War II he moved to Cape Town, South Africa to lead their symphony (from 1948-1954), but disagreements with the policy of apartheid led him to leave after six years. Said his wife Audrey, "He was very outspoken and insisted everyone be allowed to attend his concerts."

He was the target of fierce criticism by local music critics, and after guest conductor George Szell of the Cleveland Symphony cut short a visit saying the the San Francisco Symphony was "the worst example of orchestra deterioration I have seen in fifty years of conducting," Jorda was forced to leave San Francisco.

He eventually settled in Brussels where he was director of the Antwerp Philharmonic. He died in Brussels on March 18, 1996, of complications from a blood transfusion.

(-- SF Examiner obituary, April 1, 1996).

1963--Josef Krips appointed Music Director

1970--Seiji Ozawa appointed Music Director

1973--Recordings made for Deutsche Grammophon and Phillips labels

1974--Louis Magor appointed Director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus

1977--Edo de Waart appointed Music Director

1980--"New and Unusual Music" series of contemporary music inaugurated-- quickly dubbed "Cruel and Unusual Music" for its programming of unlistenable "modern" music

1980--Opening of Louise M. Davies Hall--denounced unanimously as having unacceptable acoustics

1983--Vance George appointed Chorus Director

1985--Herbert Blomstedt appointed Music Director

1986--Opening Gala with Leontyne Price and Rudolf Serkin marks beginning of 75th season--telecast on PBS

1987--Exclusive recording contract with London/Decca label

1992--Renovation of Davies Hall -- acoustics now "barely acceptable"

1993--Recording of Carmina Burana wins Grammy award for Best Classical Recording

1995--Michael Tilson Thomas appointed Music Director; exclusive recording contract with RCA Victor


Jerry Hadley

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