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San Francisco Symphony

The San Francisco Symphony sets the highest possible standard for excellence in musical performance at home and around the world; Enriches, serves, and shapes cultural life throughout the spectrum of Bay Area communities; Maintains financial stability and gains public recognition as a means of ensuring its ability to fulfill its mission.

A Symphony Rises from the Ashes
In the wake of the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco’s civic leaders set about creating a permanent orchestra in the music-loving city. In December 1911, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) gave its first concerts, rekindling the city’s cultural life. It delighted audiences with a kaleidoscopic mix of classics and new music.

A Growing Reputation
The orchestra grew in stature and acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors. Henry Hadley was followed by Alfred Hertz, who had led the American premieres of Parsifal, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera. Then came Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, the legendary Pierre Monteux, who had introduced the world to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps and Petrushka, Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, and Herbert Blomstedt, who continues to serve as Conductor Laureate. Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) became Music Director in 1995. Under his leadership, the orchestra has reached new artistic heights and new audiences.

Awards & Recordings Aplenty
The SFS has won some of the world’s most prestigious recording awards, including Japan’s Record Academy Award, France’s Grand Prix du Disque, Britain’s Gramophone Award, and a bundle of Grammy® awards. With MTT, the Symphony has won eleven Grammy®s, including three for its 1999 recording of Stravinsky ballet scores, and seven for the acclaimed Mahler symphony cycle recorded over the last decade. The Mahler recordings were released on the Symphony’s own label, SFS Media, which launched in 2001. Earlier, for RCA Red Seal, MTT and and the orchestra recorded scenes from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, which also won a Grammy®, Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, two Copland albums, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, a Gershwin collection (featuring works they performed at Carnegie Hall’s 19